Lutheran Volunteer Corps
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The Lutheran Volunteer Corps is a national volunteer service program that was founded in 1979 by Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. Each year, LVC places around 140 volunteers in thirteen different cities in the US to work for social justice with various nonprofit organizations.
Recognizing the intense need for volunteers in the 1970s and inspired by many other service organizations such as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Pastor John Steinbruck asked in 1976 why a Lutheran volunteer organization was not in place. Luther Place had been gaining momentum and addressing social justice issues through several outreach programs in the 1970s. In 1973, John and Erna Steinbruck co-founded N Street Village, a continuum of care for homeless women. The idea of creating the Lutheran Volunteer Corps was well received by the congregation of Luther Place as a method of further addressing the apparent needs in the surrounding community as well as expanding to a national influence. By the early 1980s, LVC had set up houses of volunteers in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, and Wilmington, Delaware. As of 2013, 137 volunteers are in the following cities: Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Wilmington, Delaware; Minneapolis, Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota; Omaha, Nebraska, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Tacoma, Washington; Seattle, Washington; Oakland, California; San Francisco, California; and Berkeley, California.
The organization has considered new placement cities for volunteers, and more houses in some cities, to meet growing demand for volunteer positions.
LVC's National Office is located in Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. The National Board of Directors is composed of 15 representatives from the varied placement cities.
Intentional community – LVC Volunteers live together in intentional community. This idea is inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and encourages open communication and shared diversity. LVC housemates are required to convene at least once a week for an evening of community, and once each month this evening should focus on spirituality, however that may be understood by volunteers.
Social justice – Volunteers are placed in direct social service agencies or public policy organizations, working together for people and justice. Issue areas that are addressed through LVC include: AIDS/HIV, Addiction and Recovery, Anti-Racism, Children and Youth, Education, Employment, Environment, Food and Hunger, LGBTQ, Health Care, Housing and Homelessness, Immigration and Refugees, Peace and Non-Violence, People with Disabilities, Seniors, and Women.
Some example placements at which Lutheran Volunteers have served in the past are: N Street Village in Washington, DC, the Midtown Greenway Coalition in Minneapolis, MN, and the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy in Oakland, CA.
Simplicity & sustainability – the idea of living simply and finding ways to be more environmentally aware as well as working towards simplicity of time and a focus on deepening relationships. The stipend of Lutheran Volunteers, which is $105 for personal expenses and $105 for food per person each month encourages volunteers to pool money and resources to buy groceries and explore other ways of building community and having fun than the typical consumer mindset of Americans.
Though LVC is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, only about 1/3 of the volunteers are Lutheran. The remainder of volunteers come from various faith backgrounds. In all cases, faith discussions and spiritual reflections are encouraged to introduce new perspectives and enrich dialog.
Some current LVC placement organizations
- AIDS Foundation of Chicago in Chicago, IL
- Chicago Community Loan Fund in Chicago, IL
- Chicago Jobs Council in Chicago, IL
- Faith in Place in Chicago, IL
- Howard Area Community Center in Chicago, IL
- Lutheran World Relief in Baltimore, MD
- Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, WI
- Voices For Children, Omaha, NE
- Hospice House, Omaha, NE
- Nebraska Children's Home Society, Omaha, NE
- Trinity Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service in Baltimore, MD