National Lutheran News

Is this the year for Jubilee?

Lutheran Volunteer Corps looks to expand its boundaries to include more “older adults”

For more than 30 years, the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) has been connecting people who want to embody their faith commitment by living in intentional community, working for mercy and justice, and examining sustainable lifestyle choices. Thus far, the commitment to those tenets has been defined by living in a common space — a group house — with other people who are also considering those same inclinations. It usually meant moving to an established group home in a new city.

The stipended salary, the group living situations, and the mobility required means that most LVC participants are recent college graduates.

Members of Lutheran Volunteer Corps board and staff at 2009 Omaha meeting: From left, Bill Fuson, Mike Wilker, Eileen Supple, Nancy Appel, Em Cole, Karmi Mattson, Sue Gaeta, Joanne Otte. Photo provided by LVC

A pilot program that might be launched in the Twin Cities either this fall or early next year will seek to keep the essentials of LVC but with changing particulars. The Jubilee program of LVC will allow people with established lives and developed skills to work inexpensively with nonprofit organizations doing social justice work and to be reflective and accountable about lifestyle choices.

“The core, or traditional, program of LVC is doing very well,” Laurie Beckman Yetzer, ELCA diaconal minister and staff person for the new Jubilee program. “LVC is breaking previous participant levels every year now; and last year [it] expanded into two new states — Michigan and Georgia.

“We know there is broad interest in the goals and ideals of LVC, but [many people] require more flexibility in how those ideals are lived out due to commitments [they] already have.”

Demographers can demonstrate that many baby boomers are transitioning toward retirement. “Many boomers want to evolve from making money to making meaning,” said Beckman Yetzer. “They have paid all the bills and now want to create something deeper, some type of legacy.”

A new program just like the old one

The Jubilee program will be a non-residential community, relying on cohort groups for group reflection and shared accountability. “The pilot is being developed to allow enough structure to make the experience meaningful, and enough flexibility to make it interesting,” commented LVC board member Nancy Appel, an alum of the traditional LVC program and member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Stillwater, Minnesota.

The board will meet in June to make a final determination about whether to initiate the pilot this fall or during the winter. The traditional LVC program for the 2011-12 year will begin with orientation in the Twin Cities in August. But, because there are no residential logistics to deal with, there is no need to tie the Jubilee Program to any particular time, Appel assured.

Eileen Supple, another LVC board member and congregant at Edina Community Lutheran Church (ELCA), Edina, Minnesota, said, “LVC’s hope is to appeal to a demographic with time to devote, skills to contribute, and lessons to learn, but for whom moving to a new city and living with housemates isn’t practical. We see that there are other ways to live and serve in intentional community.”

Additionally, Beckman Yetzer believes that additional constituencies — perhaps people in prison re-entry programs or stay-at-home parents —might find LVC Jubilee attractive.

Lutheran Services for the Elderly Endowment (ELCA) provided funding to initiate the pilot project. The Twin Cities will host this initial effort. For information about the LVC Jubilee Program, contact Beckman Yetzer at lbeckmanyetzer@lutheranvolunteercorps.org.

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