Classification scheme: 

Title: Non-Resistant Relief Organization fonds

Dates of creation: 1917-1964

Physical description: 55 cm of textual records

Administrative history: The Non-Resistant Relief Organization (NRRO) was a fundraising organization created in 1917 by the several Mennonite and Brethren in Christ bodies in Ontario. The permanent organization was effected in Kitchener, Ontario on 16 January 1918. Membership eventually included the Mennonite Conference of Ontario, Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference, United Missionary Church (Mennonite Brethren in Christ at that time), Brethren in Christ (Tunker), Amish Mennonite, the  United Mennonites, the Mennonite Brethren, and Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church.

The early years of the NRRO were devoted to representations to the Dominion government seeking clarification of the status of non-resistant churches under the Military Service Act of 1917. The NRRO also intervened in specific cases of men from non-resistant churches called into military service. A fund of $70,000 was contributed and presented to the government in appreciation for exemption privileges, and at government request was distributed to various relief organizations for war sufferers in Europe. This activity set the pattern for the NRRO - it did not engage in relief work directly, but solicited member churches for projects worthy of support then passed on the donations accordingly.

Following the war, the NRRO joined with Mennonite Central Committee to contribute relief to Mennonites in Russia. After a period of dormancy from 1924-1937, the NRRO was re-activated to discuss providing relief during the Civil War in Spain.  In 1939, the NRRO and Ontario Mennonite women's sewing circles were invited to work with Mennonite Central Committee to provide relief in England and Europe. With the establishment of the Conference of Historic Peace Churches (CHPC) in 1940, the role of the NRRO in making representations to government was diminished. For the sake of better efficiency and organization, the NRRO was coordinated with the CHPC in 1946. Following World War II, the NRRO was active in raising funds for many international relief projects. Together with the CHPC, the work of the NRRO was folded into the new Mennonite Central Committee (Ontario) created in 1964.

The NRRO had no paid staff. Records were kept by the individual members of the executive. Consequently, some NRRO files in the Archives are still located within personal fonds. Details are provided in the Notes field, below.

Custodial history: Most files were donated to the Archives as part of personal fonds. The NRRO fonds was originally arranged by the Archives in eight boxes. In 2013, the files were re-appraised and re-ordered to remove duplication and impose a more logical order. A file list of the original arrangement is included at the beginning of Series 1.

Scope and content: Contains the minutes, correspondence and reports of the Non-Resistant Relief Organization.

Notes: For photographs related to this organization search the Mennonite Archival Image Database.
Further materials related to this organization may be found by searching the Archives.
NRRO records are also located in the following fonds. These are smaller files and may include duplicate records:  Lewis J. Burkholder, S. F. Coffman, Christian Gascho, Jacob H. Janzen, Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference, Thomas Reesor, Mennonite Central Committee (Ontario), Women's Missionary and Service Commission, Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church.
Several NRRO files from World War I are located with the Military Problems Committee (XV-11.4.5 – XV-11.4.7), possibly because they were used for reference by the Committee during World War II.
Original archival description created by Sam Steiner and updated by Laureen Harder-Gissing in 2013.

File list:

Series 1: Minutes and reports

  1. Constitution, 1948
  2. Minutes and reports, 1917-1924, 1937-1964
    Notes: Some correspondence is included in these files. A digital copy of this file for the years 1917-1924 is available here.

Series 2: Correspondence

  1. Mailing lists
  2. Correspondence, 1917-1919, 1939-1945, 1954-1964
    Note: A digital copy of this file for the years 1917-1924 is available here.
  3. S.F. Coffman NRRO Correspondence
    Scope and content: Contains photocopies of Hist.Mss.1-163 in the Archives of the Mennonite Church. Essentially, this file is a copy of XV-11.2.2/2.

Series 3: Miscellaneous

  1. Training for relief workers, 1934-1954
  2. News clippings
    Note: A digital copy of this file for the years 1917-1924 is available here.
  3. Financial records (journals)
  4. Certificate from the Ambassador of the Netherlands in the United States to the Non-Resistant Relief Organization thanking the NRRO for post-war relief work, 8 Nov 1946
  5. Typed manuscript, "Non-Resistant Groups in World War I"
    Note: A digital copy of this file is available here.
  6. Appeals to government by various U.S. and Canadian organizations
    Note: A digital copy of this file is available here.
  7. Copies of forms made out and sent to government, and other forms re exemption
    Note: A digital copy of this file is available here.


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Mennonite Archives of Ontario
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G6

Phone: 519-885-0220 x24238