Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

YAVs begin service year after weeklong training

The 2016–2017 Young Adult Volunteers and support staff at Stony Point Conference Center in New York (Photo courtesy Bridgette Lewis)

The 2016–2017 Young Adult Volunteers and support staff at Stony Point Conference Center in New York (Photo courtesy Bridgette Lewis)

October 6, 2016

The lives of nearly 80 young adults were transformed recently as the 2016–2017 Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) class gathered at Stony Point Conference Center in New York to begin their YAV experience; each had signed up for “a year of service for a lifetime of change.”

Some wonder if these new YAVs will all become ordained pastors.

“What we hope is that all will go into faithful service after this time of vocational discernment,” said Richard Williams, coordinator of the YAV program. He said that on average, about 30 percent become teaching elders, and most of the other 70 percent go into nonprofit work, health care, education, legal work, or government service. “But what our alums say is that no matter what they are doing after their service, how they are doing it is very different after living and serving in the YAV program.”

From the 11 denominations represented in this year’s class, 22 YAVs will live and work at one of six international sites and the others will serve at one of 14 national sites. YAVs are placed in community agencies or local nonprofits, with work placements depending on the needs of the partners and the skills of the individual. Spanning ages 19–30, YAVs live in intentional Christian communities.

Last month the 2015–2016 class that recently completed a year of service met for a time of reflection, sharing, and imagining of where God is calling them. The orientation, periodic reflection times, and this post-transition retreat at the end of the service year are among the components that set the YAV program apart from other volunteer opportunities available for young adults.

All YAVs are eligible for health insurance and student loan assistance, but they are also responsible for a portion of their own fundraising, usually around $3,000 to $4,000.

During the orientation week, Williams said, YAVs cover a lot of topics, from confronting racism and sexism and privilege to looking at how to serve in an interfaith world. “This week is meant to be intentionally challenging,” said Williams. “We will push their limits. We are not looking to keep comfortable people comfortable.”

After orientation YAVs travel directly to their placement sites and begin local orientation. For domestic YAVs, that means 1–2 weeks; for international YAVs it is 2–4 weeks. Several YAV sites are opening again after a short hiatus. Three YAVs will serve in the Philippines this year, and four YAVs will serve in Zambia.

The YAV program begins accepting applications for the 2017–2018 class this month. To start an application, receive answers to frequently asked questions, or donate to the program, visit

Kathy Melvin, Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Young Adult Volunteers

Let us join in prayer for:

2016–2017 International Young Adult Volunteers

Ainsley Herrick
Brittany Beasley
Rebecca Maria Maguire

Rachel Crilley
Simon Doong
Lauren Fiske
Lydia Dia Griffiths
Emily Lungmus

Catherine Warren
Emily Wilkes
Kristen Young

Andrew Flanigan
Akilah Hyrams
Katheryn McGinnis

Ekama Eni
Isabella Fagiani
Olivia Marenco
Rachel Smith

John Black
Susannah Bryant
Kimberly Jurczyk
Olivia Orth

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Anna Maria Gonzales, PMA
Theresa Goodlin, PMA

Let us pray

Lord, thank you for experiences that open our eyes to more clearly see you, and our ears to more clearly hear you. Expose in us those things that keep us from coming to you. Open our hearts and make us unafraid to be vulnerable. May we have encounters that will change us forever and move us in the direction where you are leading. Amen.

Daily Lectionary

Morning Psalms 97; 147:12-20
First Reading Hosea 9:1-9
Second Reading Acts 24:1-23
Gospel Reading Luke 7:36-50
Evening Psalms 16; 62

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.