National Lutheran News

Lutheran Volunteer Corps experiences gain in applicants

Talking about “service” is all the rage on college campuses. And, it appears, it is especially alive at Midwestern ELCA colleges, if the statistics of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps are any indication.

The Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) places people willing to work for a year in a social justice or advocacy agency for a stipend and live in intentional community. Often these individuals are recent college graduates who want more experience with life before deciding on a long-term direction.

LVC will have record numbers for the 2009-10 term of service, which begins at the end of August and runs for a year. “We are still matching the last couple, so I can’t quite give you an exact number,” Kelly Shinn, recruiting and placement director for LVC, told Metro Lutheran. “But we currently have 124 [people] matched for next year! Our largest number previous to this year was 106, and that was last year.”

The impact of Minnesota and neighboring states on those numbers is being felt, according to Shinn. “About a fourth of our volunteers for this year are coming from Minnesota’s colleges,” she said.

St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, leads the way with 15 recent graduates going into LVC. Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota adds another five participants. Four new graduates from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa (near the Minnesota border), and Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota, will be relocating for an LVC assignment. Augsburg College, Minneapolis, and Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa (with many Minnesota students), each has three alums participating.

Four other Minnesota schools are also contributing 2009 graduates: Macalester College, St. Paul (3), Carleton College, Northfield (2), and one each from the University of St. Thomas and the University of Minnesota—Duluth.

These increased numbers mean more LVC volunteers will be assigned in Minnesota as well. A fourth LVC house will open in the Twin Cities. This household will be in the Powderhorn neighborhood of south Minneapolis, and Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) will be the host congregation. Twenty- two volunteers will be living and working in Minnesota.

The 30th year of the LVC program will see increasing diversity as well. “This year we will have folks coming from a partner program, EDYN, in Germany,” Shinn explained. “We also have the highest percentage of people of color that we’ve had in years.” LVC has been very intentional in trying to make the program as inclusive and welcoming as possible.

Andrew Tengwall, who is currently awaiting a call to ordained ministry in the ELCA, not only served as a volunteer in LVC several years ago, but he also was employed as a short-term recruiter for LVC, touring Midwest campuses to spread news about LVC.

“LVC gave me the language to describe my values so I would have a framework for exploring vocation and putting meaning in my life,” said Tengwall. “I learned to prioritize the process of living one’s life, as well as the results. And this is what I found college students wanting to figure out for themselves.”

For more information about LVC, visit the organization’s Web site: www.lutheranvolunteercorps.org or call the Twin Cities office at 612/529-2945.