Bethany Keener
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network) — The oldest continuing voluntary service program in Mennonite circles will break through national borders this fall.

Faith communities in Bradford, England, and Portadown, Northern Ireland, invited Mennonite Voluntary Service to help local congregations meet spiritual and social needs in their neighborhoods. Tim Foley, Mennonite Mission Network representative in Portadown, will serve as the program coordinator for both groups.

A partnership between College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Ind., and Green Field Community in Portadown will lend support to the U.K. program, the first MVS units outside North America.

“One of our goals is to increase young adults’ commitment to faith,” said Tim Stair, pastor at College Mennonite Church in Goshen. College Mennonite Church’s involvement will include a mentor component. The two congregations will continue building on an already established relationship.

Stair said a recent study showed young adults are twice as likely to stay involved in the life of the church after participating in service. He hopes the connection with Portadown will give young adults an opportunity to develop their faith while strengthening his congregation’s understanding of being faithful in areas of conflict.

The Mission Network currently places young adults in the United Kingdom as mission interns. Lewisberry, Pa., resident Melissa Law serves at the Greenhill YMCA in Newcastle, Northern Ireland. Her work leading cooperative games for youth has made her “more committed to trying to understand the roots of the conflict [in Northern Ireland].” She also works as part of a leadership team to enable discussion on difficult issues affecting youth.

“[Service in Northern Ireland] is extremely valuable in my maturing process as a Christian and as an adult," Law said. "I have to try to integrate my faith into everything I do.”

MVS began as the second world war was drawing to a close. During the 1950s and '60s the program provided an alternative to young men who, for reasons of conscience, could not join the U.S. military.  Today, MVS provides service opportunities for women and men ages 20 and older, including retirees and some families.

To inquire about applying for MVS International, e-mail or call toll-free: (866) 866-2872.

 launches international program



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