ROCHESTER, N.Y. (Mennonite Mission Network) –This year, after 35 years without a Mennonite Voluntary Service connection, members of Rochester (N.Y.) Area Mennonite Fellowship
are waiting to welcome a new crop of young adult volunteers.
In August 2010, Rochester will join 21 other locations in the United States as a voluntary service site, for a second time. Thirty-five years ago, Rochester was a site for a service unit administered by Eastern Mennonite Missions.
People in Rochester still remember this unit fondly. These memories and a new desire to connect with the community led the congregation to put together a proposal to bring MVS back to the area.
“As we were thinking about what should come next for our congregation, we kept coming back to MVS. Many of us work full-time and aren’t able to offer all the services we would like to, but we see the MVS unit as an extension of ourselves to the community and a blessing to them,” said Roger Kurtz, a member of the congregation’s MVS planning committee.
The Rochester area has a population of over 1 million, and has a long history of social activism. It was home to suffragette Susan B. Anthony and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. In addition, the area is home to a plethora of educational institutions, and boasts a booming music and arts scene. Rochester also has one of the largest U.S. populations of deaf or hard-of-hearing populations, as well as educational centers to resource this group.
Mennonite Voluntary Service, one of Mission Network’s Christian service programs, invites adults of all ages and backgrounds to spend a one or two-year term living in community and serving in a variety of locations across the United States.
Participants in Rochester will have opportunities to serve alongside a broad range of organizations focusing on restorative justice, advocacy for migrant farm workers (there are many in the greater Rochester area), hospitality for the homeless and healthcare for underrepresented populations, among others.
“Our first priority for placements is with ministries that our church is already involved in,” said Kurtz. “We have a lot of energy and good contacts, and we are willing to find placements for volunteers who have specific interests or passions.”
The congregation looks forward to walking with young adults as they develop new leadership skills and explore their own calling.
“This is a congregation that was already involved in a lot of ministries in the community and had a holistic approach to ministry,” said Hugo Saucedo, MVS director. “MVSers need support as they discern their own call, and Rochester will be a very nurturing environment for them.”
In recent years, MVS has seen a boost in participant numbers. This year the program is hosting 100 participants, and applications for next year point to more growth. Individuals interested in serving through Mennonite Voluntary Service can visit Service.MennoniteMission.net for more information and to apply as soon as possible.