"I knew that QVS would be an immersive experience in a faith tradition that I hoped to call my own one day.."

Dear Friend,

At the orientation held for this year’s QVS Fellows in late August, we invited several elders to share with the new participants some of their own stories of Quaker service. You could feel the collective pulse in the room quicken as Pat Hunt recollected her life upon graduation from college: inspired by her commitment to the Quaker Way and an overwhelming urge to bear witness to the escalating violence in the world, Pat and some friends would ride their steel bicycles through Eastern Europe, a small but powerful protest against a world rushing to madness.

It was the 1930s and Pat’s action would be cut short by Hitler’s invasion of Austria, but her lifetime commitment to bringing about a more peaceful, equitable, and just world was only beginning. She would play an integral role in the early days of the American Friends Service Committee, serving in Mexico, Finland and Korea (pictured here in 1950), as well as coordinating global service opportunities for many others. When the civil rights movement was rapidly shaking the foundations of the Jim Crow South, she would regularly cross paths with Bayard Rustin and John Lewis. She was a quiet and humble presence in the unfolding history of the 20th century.

When Pat and the others finished their presentations, the audience of new QVSers, only a few days into the year, silently acknowledged the presence of a truly great spirit. Many had signed up for this year, living at the intersection of spirituality and social change, hoping that this too would be the beginning of a life lived in the service of something bigger than themselves.

At lunch, some of the QVSers gathered around Pat at a dining table at Pendle Hill, and through the conversation, a torch was passed. Pat had left her legacy, a world that was better because of her Spirit-led life, and the small group of Fellows aspired to pick up where she left off. Quaker Voluntary Service was, in their assessment, the best opportunity to live into that legacy.

At that same orientation, a panel of seven alumni shared their own experiences of the various aspects of the QVS year (we now have 45 alumni who have completed a year with QVS). As I listened to these dynamic young adults speak about the hard but rewarding work of service and communal living, I realized that every single one of them is currently working for a Quaker organization. For the most part, none of them would have been doing this if it had not been for QVS.

In that moment I fully appreciated that we are accomplishing one of the things we set out to do--building new and powerful young leaders for the Religious Society of Friends, just as past experiences of Quaker service formed and shaped leaders of previous and current generations.

Elijah Walker (pictured right), serving at Habitat for Humanity in Portland this year, is one of those for whom QVS is a bridge from aspiration to reality. “I wanted to participate in a year of service with QVS,” Elijah writes, “because I knew that something about the Quaker Way resonated with me, and there were no Quaker meetings near my hometown. I knew that QVS would be an immersive experience in a faith tradition that I hoped to call my own one day...Every day, I am surrounded by people that challenge, stretch, love, and encourage me. So many Friends are committed to building relationships with me, helping me with vocational discernment and spiritual direction...What I have experienced so far in my QVS year is far more than anyone could have explained, and if anyone had tried to prepare me for this, I'm not sure I would have believed them.”

This religion of ours, this truth that we carry, is based on a promise that spans generations. None of us may see the fullness of the vision of a better world come in our own lifetimes, but we understand that we are part of a powerful stream, connecting generations over time. If we are faithful to these connections, nurturing new seeds while honoring the roots, we will see a piece of the hoped for future emerging.  

Just as they always have, the challenges of the world require people with courage, vision, commitment, and spiritual 

grounding. Thank you for being part of this movement to usher in a new generation of leaders who are equipped and ready to transform the world.

In Faith and Service,

Christina Repoley, Founding Executive Director 
Happy Holidays from the QVS Staff! 
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