Members of the QVS national board at Atlanta Friends Meeting in October
QVS board members at Atlanta Friends Meeting

Dear Friend,

Boldly and deeply Quaker – grounded in worship, forming leadership for the present and the future of Friends. Passionately engaged in service and social justice – both helping change the world and being transformed together through the experience. Practicing radical hospitality and inclusiveness – with one another and in the community, following the ministry and message of Jesus. This is the vision and the unfolding mission of Quaker Voluntary Service.

Like you, we recognize that Friends today are being invited to rediscover and reclaim the living tradition of Quaker service for our time, offering new models built on enduring truths. Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) speaks into that need, and offers that opportunity. Your support and encouragement has played a vital role in this journey so far – and we thank you.

We’re writing now to update you about how this leading continues to unfold, to share news about the dynamic efforts underway to move QVS forward in the coming months, and to ask for your continuing vital participation – including your insights, your prayers, and your financial support.

As you know, in 2009 young adult Friends carrying the leading that has become QVS convened a national consultation on Quaker service, sponsored by Pendle Hill and Friends General Conference’s Youth Ministries Program. Quakers active in service, witness, and spirit-led communal living efforts from across the United States participated. We celebrated the powerful work already being done by Friends, and we discerned together that more was needed. A diverse national board was formed and has been carrying this work of creating a new, transformative, and deeply Quaker opportunity for service in the world.

Building on three years of discernment, research, and consultation, including working closely with a network of other longstanding faith-based voluntary service programs, a vibrant team of supporters is working to launch the pilot QVS service house in Atlanta, Georgia in the fall of 2012.  This house is envisioned as the first of a growing network of QVS programs. In recent months, active exploration has begun to lay the groundwork for launching two more QVS communities by the end of 2013.

The QVS Experience

QVS is open to any young adult at least 21 years old who is passionate about living in intentional Quaker community, participating in Friends worship and process, experiencing the Light at work among us, and openly engaging questions of faith and service in the world. Participants will live simply together in shared housing. Through partnerships with agencies and organizations that work directly with marginalized people and communities, QVS volunteers will serve full-time for an 11-month term. They’ll receive housing, a food stipend, health insurance, and skills training. Volunteers will be in active relationship with a local Friends meeting or church, and will participate in an ongoing program of reflection, discernment, and spiritual formation.

As work camps and other similar experiences did for previous generations of Friends, this yearlong experience offers the opportunity to orient participants to whole lives committed to service and justice, grounded and sustained by their Quaker faith – lives that speak.

Your Partnership with QVS

We are deeply grateful for the support we have received during the discernment and planning stages of this effort. Now we’ve come to the critical moment
of putting the staff and infrastructure in place to do the on-the-ground work needed to bring the first QVS community to life.

For QVS to launch the national network with our first house in Atlanta in the fall of 2012, we know we need part-time staff support on the ground beginning in January. Having this staffing is vital to do the work of coordination, administration, facilitation, recruitment, placement, supervision and leadership that must to be done as we begin this adventure and work toward expanding the program to other locations in 2013.

This means your support is needed now more than ever. Each of us whose heart responds to the QVS vision has the opportunity to join our founding circle of partners as we help this dynamic work of the Spirit be born among us. As the founding board, we have all said “yes” to this invitation – and we hope you will join us.

We need to reach a goal of $50,000 from a circle of founding partners to make this happen. The QVS founding board of seven people has already pledged a total of $15,000 – 30% of our total goal – leaving us with $35,000 remaining. We hope in the coming months to raise approximately half of these funds from supporters in Atlanta, and half from people in other parts of the country who believe in this leading and are moved to make commitments to make this first vital step – and therefore every step beyond it – possible.

We invite you to partner with QVS through a gift of any size. We’d be happy to talk to you about several different ways you can contribute.

We also encourage you to share this opportunity with a young adult you know who may be interested in being a member of the inaugural class of QVS. We’d love to visit your meeting, church, retirement community, or hometown. And please continue to send us your thoughts, ideas, and prayers as together we continue the work of rediscovering and reclaiming Quaker service for our time.

From our beginnings in the 1650’s, the Religious Society of Friends has taught that it’s not enough for us to preach what we believe – we must live our faith as our testimony. Today, across the diverse branches of the Quaker tradition, new Life is breaking through, bringing new hope for our shared future. With your help, Quaker Voluntary Service can be an important part of what comes next for our movement, providing powerful opportunities to let our lives speak.

Thank you for your prayers, for your interest, and for your vital continuing support. We look forward to sharing this life-giving, life-changing journey with you – transforming service, living Quaker faith.

In faith and service,

John Helding, Clerk of the QVS Board (North Pacific Yearly Meeting)

On behalf of the QVS Board:
Noah Baker Merrill (New England Yearly Meeting); Bruce Birchard (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting); Jennifer Foster (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association); Cheryl Keen (Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting); Kristina Keefe-Perry (New York Yearly Meeting); Christina Repoley (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association)

P.S. To make a donation, you can give online, or send a check to Quaker Voluntary Service, 668 Elbert St. SW, Atlanta GA 30310. To discuss other giving options, contact Christina Repoley by phone at 404-721-4787 or email her at [email protected]. You can take a 2011 tax deduction on any donation made before the end of the calendar year. While our federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt filing is currently in progress, as an incorporated non-profit the IRS allows us to receive donations and provide a tax deduction receipt to our donors. And thank you!

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