CL online exclusive: PAX documentary premiers on Hallmark channel

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The story of Pax, a Mennonite and Brethren service program which ran from 1951 to 1975, will premiere on Hallmark Channel Nov. 23 (7 a.m. ET/PT, 6 a.m. CT/MT). 

Pax Service: An Alternative to War is an hour-long documentary produced by Mennonite Media about 1,200 young volunteers, who did relief and development work in 40 countries around the world. 

Cal Redekop, Harrisonburg, author of the book The Pax Story: Service in the Name of Christ (Pandora Press, 2001), was one of the driving forces behind the Pax documentary and served as executive producer along with the late Al Keim, also of Harrisonburg. Burton Buller, formerly a Mennonite Brethren, is producer of the program.

Pax Service began as a way to address the housing crisis in Europe after the destruction of World War II. The program was one of the alternative service programs available to conscientious objectors after the U.S. began a military draft in 1950. The draft continued from the Korean War through subsequent Cold War and Vietnam War eras. The TV show covers work in:

* Germany, building houses in rural, forested areas for refugees families from Russia; 
* Austria, rebuilding a bombed-out historic school building in Vienna (the only Protestant school in Austria); 
* Greece, helping people in the region of Panayitsa recover from civil war by building an experimental farm and other agricultural development projects; 
* Paraguay, working with the Paraguayan military to build the Trans-Chaco road from Asunción to the Chaco, which opened up markets for farmers; 
* Congo, building furniture and houses, and traveling to remote villages to encourage and assist villagers to raise rabbits as a source of protein. 

The Church of the Brethren; Faith & Values Media, now Odyssey Networks; and Mennonite Media, a program of Mennonite Mission Network and former Pax volunteers all contributed funds or in-kind staff or facilities to the project. A DVD of the documentary with bonus material and a discussion guide for adults or youth groups will be available in January 2009. 

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