Church Gains Memo of Understanding with Selective Service System

BVS director Dan McFadden (at right above) talks with a participant at the recent National Youth Conference in Colorado, during an early morning peace vigil. BVS and the Church of the Brethren have reached a new agreement with the Selective Service System to be able to place conscientious objectors in the event a military draft is reinstated. Photo by Glenn Riegel
Aug. 13, 2010

A Memo of Understanding between the federal government’s Selective Service System and the Church of the Brethren has been signed by Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the denomination, and Lawrence G. Romo, director of Selective Service.

The memo represents an agreement that goes into effect in the event a military draft is reinstated in the United States. In that event, the Church of the Brethren working through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) will be able to place conscientious objectors assigned to alternative service work.

“It’s good to be prepared,” said BVS director Dan McFadden. “Do I think there will be a draft? No.”

Global Mission Partnerships executive director Jay Wittmeyer commented, “We need to be prepared and maintain our historical position just in case.”

A similar agreement recently was made between Selective Service and Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) and the Mennonite Mission Network. MVS is a program of the Mennonite Mission Network, which is the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA.

McFadden noted that both agreements are the fruit of a number of years of effort by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonites to maintain a relationship with the Selective Service System and with each other’s provisions for conscientious objectors.

He said a key part of the agreement is that “in the event of a draft, the Church of the Brethren and BVS would be in a position to negotiate the details of being a site for conscientious objectors.”

Among other stipulations in the memo, the church and BVS will meet a legal obligation to place alternative service workers “in work that benefits the nation’s health, safety, and interests”; a Selective Service officer will be assigned as a liaison to the church; Selective Service will provide transportation to and from their residences for alternative service workers placed with BVS; and the church and BVS will supervise the alternative service workers assigned to them. The agreement is considered provisional and will be reviewed every 36 months.

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