Nonresistant Relief Organization (NRRO)

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The Nonresistant Relief Organization (NRRO) was a fundraising organization created in 1917 by the several Mennonite and Brethren in Christ bodies in Ontario. A preliminary meeting of ten persons representing four groups of nonresistant churches was held in Wideman Mennonite Church (MC) near Markham, Ontario on 17 November 1917. The meeting was held to consider the status of non-resistants under the Canadian Military Service Act of 1917, and to devise a practical expression of appreciation to the government for past exemptions from military service. L. J. Burkholder of Markham was chairman of the meeting and David W. Heise of Gormley, Ontario was secretary. The permanent organization was effected in Kitchener, Ontario on 16 January 1918, by representatives of the following bodies: Ontario Conference (MC), Markham district of the Old Order Mennonites (OOM), North Waterloo district (OOM), United Missionary Church (Mennonite Brethren in Christ at that time), Brethren in Christ (Tunker), Amish Mennonite, United Mennonite (General Conference Mennonite Church), Mennonite Brethren, and Stirling Avenue (General Conference Mennonite, at that time independent). Each group was entitled to three representatives. 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. Contacts were maintained with the government in the interpretation and application of the Military Service Act as it affected members of the churches and as NRRO sought to maintain exemption privileges. The organization was active in raising funds for China famine relief in 1920, Russian famine relief in 1921, support of Russian immigrants to Canada in 1923, Spanish relief in 1937, drought relief in the Canadian Northwest in 1937-38, evacuees' relief in England in 1939, and European relief through the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)  in 1939. NRRO also worked in co-operation with Western Canada relief organizations in support of relief homes in England in 1941 and food and clothing shipments for MCC relief during the years after the second world war. For the sake of better efficiency and organization the NRRO was coordinated with the Conference of Historic Peace Churches (CHPC) in 1946. Later, in 1963, CHPC came under the consolidating umbrella of the newly founded Mennonite Central Committee Canada.


Epp, Esther Ruth. "The Origins of Mennonite Central Committee (Canada)." M.A. thesis, University of Manitoba, 1980: 218.

Regehr, T. D. Mennonites in Canada, 1939-1970: a People Transformed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996: 393.

Additional Information

Executive Officers of the Nonresistant Relief Organization

Chairperson Years Vice-Chairperson Years Secretary Years Treasurer Years
L. J. Burkholder 1918-1923 S. Goudie 1918-1923 D. W. Heise (secretary-treasurer) 1918-1920    
S. Goudie 1923-1924 S. Goudie 1937-1941 S. F. Coffman (secretary-treasurer) 1920-1939    
D. W. Heise 1924-1937 Oscar Burkholder 1941-1944 S. F. Coffman 1939-1950 N. M. Bearinger 1939-1944
L. J. Burkholder 1937-1941 P. G. Lehman 1944-1955 Freeman Gingerich 1950-1955 J. C. Hallman 1944-1956
S. Goudie 1941-1944 Fred Nighswander 1955-1961 Wilfred Ulrich 1955-1963 M. R. Good 1956-1959
Oscar Burkholder 1944-1955 C. J. Rempel 1961-1962 Gordon S. Weber 1963-1964 Etril Snyder 1959-1964
P. G. Lehman 1955-1959 Vernon Zehr 1962-1964        
Henry H. Epp 1959-1961            
Fred Nighswander 1961-1964

Author(s) S. F Coffman
Date Published 1953

Cite This Article

MLA style

Coffman, S. F. "Nonresistant Relief Organization (NRRO)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 25 Jul 2024.

APA style

Coffman, S. F. (1953). Nonresistant Relief Organization (NRRO). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 July 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 907-908. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.