Introduction to Mennonite Voluntary Service

Mennonite Voluntary Service (MVS) seeks to help meet the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged.

The local church is the focal point for meeting these needs. Mennonite Voluntary Service gives assistance to congregational outreach endeavours as they seek to serve the people in their communities.

Mennonite Voluntary Service is also committed to helping the church speak to issues related to peace, justice, faith, and other concerns.

We welcome you into Mennonite Voluntary Service. We value your commitment to Christian faith, to cooperative Unit living, and to caring for the needs of others while you grow and are nurtured. As an MVS volunteer you have an opportunity to use your gifts, training and experience to work with and learn from a wide variety of people and situations. During this time you will explore new places and opportunities, face difficult questions, and step out of the familiar into the unknown. You will walk with those in need in a troubled world, and you will be supported and prayed for by many people and churches while you do so.

The policies outlined in this manual will help you understand the financial, administrative, and spiritual resources and guidelines of the MVS programs. While providing order and clarity, policies can also be flexible when special situations arise. Volunteers may discuss needs not covered in this handbook with the local leadership. Any special arrangements should be detailed in the Volunteer's Covenant.

It is our hope that you will feel appreciated and supported as you undertake your assignment and that this handbook will be a handy tool to refer to during your term of service.

Mennonite Voluntary Service began in the United States in 1944, and in Canada in 1966 as a mission project of Hamilton Mennonite Church to address the needs of inner-city Hamilton. It has grown and changed over the years, and today, in Canada, it is run by a grass-roots organization - Mennonite Voluntary Service Adventure (MVSA) - and is active in five locations across the country.

Program Objectives:

  • To provide a framework for discerning God's purpose in participants' lives.
  • To help participants come to a clearer understanding of what Christian faith and a relationship with Jesus means to them.
  • To support participants as they mature in their ability to communicate the good news of the kingdom of God.
  • To introduce participants to the notion of missions as a lifestyle.
  • To expose participants to the many challenges and benefits of living simply.
  • To foster a vision for missions.

Program Commitment:
Community: church-service-unit life Mennonite Voluntary Service has been developed to help participants become involved in issues and activities of a local community and a local Mennonite congregation, to share in a household where a simple lifestyle is affirmed and caring relationships are nurtured, and to demonstrate compassionate service which honours and imitates Jesus Christ's love for all people and his special concern for those who suffer from injustice.

Four essential components of the Voluntary Service experience are Unit Life, Service, Church, and Community.

Program Components:
While it is expected that participants will contribute to their hosting communities in significant ways, it is also expected that participants will come away from their experience with much new knowledge and insight. To facilitate participants' learning, a number of components have been put in place.

  • Household/unit - group of three to six participants who reside in a common residence, and who live in community, sharing the various responsibilities of doing so.
  • Service assignment - part- or full-time stipended placements in the hosting community.
  • Host congregation - one or more Mennonite churches which have a vision for service as ministry in their community. Congregation(s) provide financial and other support to the VS units. Units are accountable to their host congregation(s). Units are expected to worship weekly with these congregations and are encouraged to get involved in the congregation's other ministries.
  • Check-in - a monthly meeting with the local MVS committee for discussion and exploration of participant's VS experience in terms of the assignments, relationships, challenges, growth experiences, etc.
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:11
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