Young Adult Volunteers shaping the next generation of faithful leaders
by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE – Applications are now being accepted for the 2018–2019 Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) class. This is the 25th anniversary of a program that is helping to shape the next generation of globally aware, faithful and passionate leaders.
About 92 percent of YAV alums say their YAV year directly influenced their current vocation. Seventy-nine percent of alums now regularly attend worship, 63 percent report additional participation in congregational life, and 32 percent go on to ordination or pastoral leadership. To date, there are more than 1,700 alums of the program.
Kim Jurczyk, who recently finished service in rural Zambia said, “I am determined to bring these values with me when I return home and keep them as an important part of my identity.” Many YAVs echo similar sentiments.
The YAV program is a one-year service opportunity for young adults ages 19–30, offered through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). For the YAVs, the benefits include a year of vocational discernment, the opportunity to live and work outside their comfort zone with the support of an intentional Christian community, time to explore their relationship with God and to live more simply in response to an unsustainable human demand for natural resources.
In the 2017–18 YAV year, there are four international sites and 15 national sites where young adults walk alongside local people of faith who are confronting root causes of poverty, violence and injustice in their communities and witnessing to the gospel by word and deed. It costs about $22,000 to fully support a YAV for one year. YAV participants are asked to raise around 20 percent of this cost through their own fundraising efforts, and 80 percent is funded through individual donations and the annual Pentecost Offering.
The program is open to all people in the Christian tradition. About 70 percent of YAVs identify as Presbyterian. Other participants come from a wide variety of denominations, including other mainline Protestant denominations, evangelical Protestant churches, and Catholic and Anabaptist traditions.
The application requires basic personal and church information, as well as education and employment. Applicants are also asked to answer essay questions that include “why do you think you are a good fit for the YAV program” and “describe an experience you have had with a person or group from another race, religion culture or country and what you learned from that experience.” References are also required.
“As a young adult in the beginning of my career, I chose YAV to learn about the world and my role within it. YAV is a year of immersive education that turns our world upside down and reshapes the people we are becoming. In our retreats and weekly meetings, my housemates and I will challenge and support one another as we develop our understanding of complex issues and examine our core beliefs.”
Along with putting their faith in action, YAVs also learn practical skills like developing healthy habits for budgeting, community living and self-care.
Sherry Ellington is the YAV site coordinator for Zambia. She walked alongside the Zambian YAVs while they struggled, celebrated and grew. “In the end, they look back and realize that they have formed meaningful relationships, forged new levels of personal strength and have experienced Christian life in a setting completely different from how they were raised. Their worldviews have been forever deepened by the experience,” she said.
Application dates for 2018/2019 YAV year
- Oct. 1, 2017 – Applications Open
- Jan. 1, 2018 – Round 1 – (All sites available, early placement)
- March 1, 2018 – Round 2 – (Most sites available, final date to apply to international sites)
- June 1, 2018 – Round 3 – (National sites only, limited spots available)
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