We welcome Matt Cowell, the first Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) to serve with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. Below is Matt’s first blog:
Greetings to all! My name is Matt Cowell and I am a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) serving in New York City at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. For those
of you who don’t know, the YAV program is a service corps of the PC(USA), this year bringing together 85 mostly twenty-somethings to serve for one year in 17 U.S. cities and four foreign countries. YAVs spend a year exploring their relationships with God and the world around them by working at social justice-minded organizations while living in intentional Christian communities.
I grew up in many churches while living for 17 years in Europe and Latin America when my father worked as a U.S. diplomat. Since visiting a Peace Corps site in the Dominican Republic and attending a Christian missions conference, I have felt called to volunteer long-term by living and working in a community culturally different from mine. During the 2014-2015 year, I lived out this call by serving as a YAV in San Antonio, Texas, where I assisted refugees and asylum applicants at a pro bono immigration law firm. My work there particularly focused on the mostly Central American women and children held at nearby immigration detention facilities.
This past August, I moved to New York to begin a second YAV year. Although I’m still new at the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN, I’m already getting involved in diplomacy here. I’ve had the pleasure of attending meetings at the UN, including a session of the Security Council, and hearing speeches given by notable world leaders such as Ban Ki-moon (UN secretary-general) and Arun Gandhi (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi). It is my understanding that I will specialize in at least one issue-area; already, I have worked on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the process to achieve peace in the Holy Land.
By serving as a YAV in New York, I look forward to exploring how the Presbyterian Church interacts with a variety of faiths and cultures in the context of international diplomacy at the UN. I also hope to grow personally and spiritually in a family of young adults while discerning how to serve God best in my work, relationships, and activities. If you would like to learn more about what I’m doing here in New York, please visit my blog. For more information about the YAV program and the New York City site, please visit, respectively. To learn more about the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, visit our Facebook page or webpage. Peace to all!