Service has always been an important part of Mennonite life.
The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), for example, is a relief, service, and peace agency. Founded in 1920, MCC seeks to reflect the Biblical call to care for the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, the sick, and those in prison. In 2002 alone, MCC received nearly $100 million to fulfill this mission. It has 1300 workers in 57 countries.
Not coincidentally, many Mennonite outreach agencies started up after the war.
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) was founded in 1953 and aims to bring hope, opportunity, and economic well being to low income people around the world through a business-oriented approach to development. Each year MEDA creates or sustains about 10,000 jobs around the world. One way they do this is through the Sarona Global Investment Fund. Sarona is the only socially responsible fund that specifically targets low-income people in the developing world. MEDA's target group is the poorest of the economically active in the developing world. These are people who, because they are poor, cannot obtain loans from local banks to start or grow businesses.
Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) was founded in 1944, making it the oldest continuing voluntary service program in Mennonite circles. It provides a way for people to live out their faith through deeds of service. MVS has been a powerful influence on the church. Thousands of Mennonites (and others) have served marginalized people in the past five decades. In the process, they themselves were served and transformed by the people among whom they lived.
Mennonite Disaster Service, founded in 1950, is a channel through which various constituencies of the Anabaptist churches can respond to those affected by disasters in North America . While the main focus is on clean up, repair and rebuilding homes, this activity becomes a means of touching lives and helping people regain faith and wholeness.
Ed Bearinger wanted to do all he could to alleviate human suffering in the war. He wishes he could have done more. Since the war he has encouraged people to be involved with Mennonite Disaster Service which works at alleviating human suffering.
These agencies have all done valuable service, but what exactly is the connection to conscientious objectors?