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The introduction of conscription on August 29, 1917, presented another threat to Mennonite exemption from military service. While Mennonites were among the categories of persons exempted from the Act's provisions, Military Service Act, difficulties began to develop. Problems arose particularly when young Mennonites appeared before local tribunals to prove their identity as members of the Mennonite Church.
Much of the problem was the uncertainty among government officials as to who was a Mennonite. It became evident that some government officials were restricting military exemption to those who had been baptized. Since the legal age of induction was eighteen and many Mennonite youths were not baptized until twenty or twenty-one years of age, quite a number of youths were in danger of induction.
This was finally clarified in 1918 when Abraham Dyck of Lowe Farm was inducted into the military as a test case. Leaders of the Mennonite Church in Manitoba were called to Winnipeg to testify on the Church status of an unbaptized Me.monite child. This testimony confirmed that the Mennonite Church considered its unbaptized chil dren and young people its own as much as the baptized members and were accepted as such by the government.
The last threat to the Mennonites' exemption from military service in Manitoba came with the national registration of 1918. Finding diffi culty in securing recruits for service overseas, the Canadian govern ment called for universal registration to facilitate this objective. Mennonites were assured that the government would fully honour its promises to the Mennonites but insisted that all, without exception, must register. With these assurances even the Reinlaender Church was prevailed upon to register its members. 6
While Mennonites in Rhineland took all necessary measures to avoid active service, they were willing to financially support organiza tions such as the Red Cross and the Patriotic Fund. In this they were motivated both by their desire to provide relief to war victims and also "to secure the goodwill of their Canadian neighbours who would be less likely to press for Mennonite enlistment if they saw evidence of volun tary sacrifice". 7 The Bergthaler Mennonite Church went so far as to make these contributions to the Red Cross a carefully planned annual affair, developing an informal property tax by 1918. Mennonite contri butions to these relief organizations amounted to close to $150,000. The 6,452 Manitoba Sommerfelders alone contributed $46,000, or over seven dollars per member. 8
The purchase of victory bonds in Rhineland was a more controver sial issue, since this clearly represented financial support for the war