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The Community Service Award is bestowed upon individuals or organizations whose work exemplifies the spirit of nonviolence as demonstrated through commitment to civic engagement and service.

The 2015 recipient of the award was the PAX Program for their pioneering global initiative of voluntary and alternative service. The PAX program (1951-1976) was first imagined by Calvin Redekop and Paul Peachy, who both retired in Harrisonburg, VA and worked for Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) at the time, to help rebuild post-war Europe by providing a voluntary service option to the military draft. 


Nearly 1,200 men and women, including over 40 from the Shenandoah Valley, went to 42 different countries around the world and were involved in numerous agricultural development and construction projects. PAX began in Germany where “PAXmen” helped build refugee homes, but in a short period expanded its scope of activities to other parts of Europe such as Austria, France, and Greece, and to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

General Lewis Hershey, Director of US Selective Service, visited the PAX site in Germany in August, 1951 to evaluate the program and approve it as alternative service to the military draft. The program also was a pre-cursor and part of the inspiration for Senator Hubert Humphrey, Sargent Shriver and United States President John F. Kennedy to launch the long-running Peace Corps program. PAX also served as a model of alternative service for other countries, such as Germany and Italy.


The program's ethic was non-bureaucratic and the basic philosophy was "serving to get the job done." The MCC executive committee did a focused review in 1957 and concluded that, "the PAX program has been making a unique and valuable contribution in the relief and mission outreach. Our churches and young men continue to have a strong interest in this service and new opportunities for service should be sought.”

The PAX program had a deep impact on the lives of many young men, and almost all agreed that their years of service were, according to later research, "the most important life changing years of [their] lives." 

Pax Service: An Alternative to War is an hour-long documentary produced by Mennonite Media and premiered on the Hallmark Channel in November 2008. Two books also have been written about PAX: Urie Bender's (1969) Solidiers of Compassion and Calvin Redekop's (2001) The Pax Story

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