Inspired by the 23-year success of the Westmoreland Volunteer Corps, the UCC is now recruiting host churches for a new volunteer opportunity called "Young Adult Service Companion Communities."
"Congregations can think of this as part of their young adult ministry," says the Rev. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, the UCC's executive for volunteer ministries.
"The host church will provide housing, maybe an apartment or a parsonage, then recruit four or five young adults under 30 to participate in this," explains Blaufuss. "The host church would have a spiritual sojourner who would help the community do some reflection on their service."
Volunteers will serve in local agencies, advocacies or direct social service agencies identified by the UCC. Blaufuss says the program will focus on relationship building, culminating in shared experiences that become part of a spiritual reflection.
"Part of that can be negotiating daily life space, deciding what to cook," Blaufuss says. "We're hoping it even provides some conversation about environmental issues."
In keeping with UCC polity, Blaufuss says the local church will be the centerpiece for Young Adult Service Communities.
"The national setting will facilitate recruitment and network the organizations with each other, and bring everyone together for a training event once a year," says Blaufuss. "We'll have that cross-country sharing of experiences. Hopefully, Young Adult Service Communities will become a hands-on piece for involved congregations."
Applications for volunteers will be accepted in early 2009. For more information, contact the Rev. Mary Schaller Blaufuss at 216/736-3214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.