An episode of the television series “History Detectives” featuring the Church of the Brethren and Civilian Public Service (CPS) will air on PBS stations on Monday, July 10, at 9 p.m. eastern (check local listings).
The show was filmed with the help of research done by Church of the Brethren archivist Ken Shaffer, who was contacted in Nov. 2005 by the production company’s staff as they were tracking down the history of a Brethren Service Committee certificate. The Brethren Historical Library and Archives and Shaffer provided background information, photos, and film. The archives are a ministry of the General Board, located in Elgin, Ill.
The giving of Brethren Service Committee certificates and stamps was among several methods used by Brethren to raise funds to support CPS camps and the conscientious objectors who worked in the program during World War II. The certificates and stamp cards indicated the amount of the donation and stated that the donation was to be used for CPS.
As World War II neared, the Church of the Brethren along with the other historic peace churches worked with the US government to establish CPS as an alternative service program for conscientious objectors to war. While CPS was under the authority of the government, it was organized, administered, and funded by the churches.
The Church of the Brethren was responsible for 33 CPS camps and special projects. Responsibility included funding, and the Brethren donated over $1,300,000 plus large amounts of food and clothing to support CPS.
The Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., hosted the cast and film crew of “History Detectives” on Feb. 24-25 when they interviewed Harry Graybill, a CPS worker who served four years in the program. “History Detectives” staff also did filming and interviews at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College and other locations.