QUAKER VOLUNTARY SERVICE IS…
an 11-month experiment, living at the intersection of transformational spirituality and activism. Young adults work full-time in professional positions at community based organizations addressing a wide range of issues, while living in a cooperative house and worshiping with, and being mentored by, local Quakers. Fellows receive housing, transportation, food, support for health and wellness (including access to health insurance if needed), and a small stipend, while engaging in regular self-led workshops and retreats that allow for continuing education in social justice, faith, and community building topics.
Watch what a day in the life of a QVS Fellow might look like-
Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) fosters dynamic relationships of service, witness, and worship in a living Quaker faith. In a world oppressed by the powers of violence, domination, exclusion and fear, QVS empowers transformative partnerships in the work of liberation and justice. We seek to be a vessel for the renewal and transformation of relationships with God and with one another. We are called to wrestle, labor, and delight in our blessed diversity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Quaker Voluntary Service enables lives of prophetic service. We support and empower young adults to explore their spirituality and vocation while living in intentional Quaker community. We increase the capacity of social change organizations and we partner with Quaker meetings and churches, building new leadership for the Religious Society of Friends and the world beyond.
Click on our core values below to learn more about what guides our work.
THE QUAKER WAY
QVS is deeply committed to Quaker practice, process and faith. Key to the Quaker way as we understand it is the journey toward faithfulness – allowing our lives to be ever more responsive to Divine guidance. QVS communities will participate in worship together and with Quaker Meetings and Churches. We value Friends’ understanding of the continuing revelation of God, and expect to be opened to new understandings and new discoveries in our journey together. We celebrate the invitation of our living tradition including the historic testimonies of simplicity, peace, community, equality, and integrity; and Friends’ witness of resistance to injustice through nonviolent action. With God’s guidance, the work of QVS will explore and enact new embodiments of these traditional values and experiences.
Early Friend George Fox, as the Quaker movement began, testified to hearing an inward Voice saying, “There is One, even Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition”. Quaker traditions today understand and experience the significance of Jesus differently – and we have much to learn from one another. Therefore, in our life and work together, QVS commits itself to providing opportunities and spaces for our Fellows to explore and share with one another–in humility, courage, and love–their diverse understandings of the example, teachings, role, and ongoing experience of Jesus in our Quaker movement and in the world, as we seek together to grow and be guided more deeply into Truth.
Through the QVS experience, we seek to create and sustain a culture of service within the broader Quaker community and foster a lifetime of service for Fellows who learn the joy of giving of themselves for the good of the world and in gratitude to God. We strive to serve in contextually appropriate ways that affirm the dignity of all persons and the sovereignty of all communities. We will practice solidarity rooted in mutually empowering relationships.
The experience of service in community comes with the hope and expectation for changed and changing lives. Undoubtedly, the greatest change will occur in the lives of Fellows who come into a greater awareness of the movement of Divine Love and the way Spirit seeks to use us in the redemption and restoration of all things. Intentional work in the area of service learning and spiritual formation will animate the transformation of our minds, hearts and souls as we work toward a more just world and help us in discerning our particular gifts of ministry.
QVS fosters communities that demonstrate radical hospitality that embraces the interdependence of all life. QVS communities will strive to embody the knowledge that each of us is both host and stranger, deeply living the truth that there is that of God in all life. We understand our spiritual journeys to be communal, not individualistic, and so Fellows will look to their community partners, other Fellows and mentors for guidance and accountability.
Boldly and deeply Quaker – grounded in worship, forming leadership for the present and the future of Friends. Passionately engaged in service and social justice – both helping change the world and being transformed together through the experience. Practicing radical hospitality and inclusiveness – with one another and in the community, following the ministry and message of Jesus. This is the vision and the unfolding mission of Quaker Voluntary Service.
We recognize that Friends today are being invited to rediscover and reclaim the living tradition of Quaker service for our time, offering new models built on enduring truths. Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) speaks into that need, and offers that opportunity.
In 2009 young adult Friends carrying the leading that has become QVS convened a national consultation on Quaker service, sponsored by Pendle Hill and Friends General Conference’s Youth Ministries Program. Quakers active in service, witness, and spirit-led communal living efforts from across the United States participated. We celebrated the powerful work already being done by Friends, and we discerned together that more was needed. A diverse national board was formed and has been carrying this work of creating a new, transformative, and deeply Quaker opportunity for service in the world.
Passionately engaged in service and social justice – both helping change the world and being transformed together through the experience.
Building on three years of discernment, research, and consultation, including working closely with a network of other longstanding faith-based voluntary service programs, a vibrant team of supporters launched the pilot QVS service house in Atlanta, Georgia in the fall of 2012. This house was the first step in developing a growing network of QVS programs. QVS launched two more houses in August 2013 in Philadelphia, PA and Portland, OR. In 2015 we launched our fourth house in Boston, MA as well as a pilot Alumni Fellowship program in Philadelphia, where first year QVS alumni can continue programming with QVS and work for Quaker organizations in Philly. We are excited about the continual growth of our programs and reach, and look forward to expanding our network in different ways in the years to come.
As work camps and other similar experiences did for previous generations of Friends, this yearlong experience offers the opportunity to orient participants to whole lives committed to service and justice, grounded and sustained by their Quaker faith – lives that speak.
From our beginnings in the 1650’s, the Religious Society of Friends has taught that it’s not enough for us to preach what we believe – we must live our faith as our testimony. Today, across the diverse branches of the Quaker tradition, new Life is breaking through, bringing new hope for our shared future. With your help, Quaker Voluntary Service can be an important part of what comes next for our movement, providing powerful opportunities to let our lives speak.
Thank you for your prayers, for your interest, and for your vital continuing support. We look forward to sharing this life-giving, life-changing journey with you – transforming service, living Quaker faith.