Consider spending time living simply in community with others and working for social justice. The diversity of gifts that volunteers bring to a period of service and the gifts that they receive in return are invaluable to the ongoing process of partnership and empowerment which the following organizations strive to build.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), the relief, service, and development agency of North American Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches, has volunteer positions available in North America and in some 50 other countries. Domestic positions are for a two-year term, and international positions are for three years. In addition, there are weeklong domestic service experiences available in Appalachia, Portland, Chicago, Toronto, and Montreal. Leadership training is also available for minorities through Summer Service, Service Internship Program, and MCC Canada's summer Native Gardening program. Contact MCC, 21 South 12th St., P.O. Box 500, Akron, PA 17501-0500; (717) 859-1151.
Lutheran Service Corps (LSC) is an urban ministry committed to addressing issues of social and economic injustice in Omaha, Nebraska. In exchange for one year of service, LSC provides the volunteer with housing, food, work-related transportation, health insurance, a monthly stipend, and a long distance telephone allowance. The period of service begins in September 1995 and ends in July 1996. Positions include work with the Nebraska AIDS project, Women Against Violence Program, and the MICAH House Emergency Family Shelter. Contact LSC, 6220 N. 30th St., Omaha, NE 68111; (402) 457-5890.
Habitat for Humanity is a group of committed individuals who build houses in partnership with those who cannot afford decent living quarters. Volunteers are needed in locations across the United States and in 40 developing nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific Islands. In the United States, the period of service ranges from one week to one year while the overseas positions require a commitment of three years. Experience is particularly needed in the areas of construction, administration, child care, photography, and fund raising. Contact Habitat for Humanity International, Human Resources Department, 121 Habitat St., Americus, GA 31709-3498; (912) 924-6935.
For more information on service projects, send for Connections 1995, a directory of organizations that provide short-and long-term volunteer opportunities with faith-based programs both in the United States and overseas. To receive a copy of Connections 1995, write to: St. Vincent Pallotti Center, Box 893-Cardinal Station, Washington, DC 20064; (202) 529-3330.
Tourism: Paradise in Peril is a brief study/action guide for individuals and groups exploring how to travel responsibly. Destructive consequences of tourist-oriented development in Third World nations are cited, and positive alternatives are profiled.
The guide, produced by the Office on Global Education, lists helpful resources to refer to before embarking on a journey. It also names conscientious organizations that provide alternative ways to travel, such as the Center for Global Education, which coordinates travel seminars to Mexico, Central America, Southern Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. To order Tourism: Paradise in Peril (30 cents each or four for $1), contact: Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515-0968.
Did you know that U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for a military school on U.S. soil that trains some of the worst human rights violators in the hemisphere? School of Assassins , a 20-minute video documentary from Maryknoll Productions, exposes the U.S. Army School of the Americas, a combat school at Fort Benning, Georgia, that has trained more than 57,000 soldiers from 23 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The video, narrated by Susan Sarandon, reveals a military school hidden behind a wall of secrecy for more than 40 years while its graduates committed assassinations, coups, and massacres in nations throughout Latin America. School of Assassins is an excellent educational resource for high schools, colleges, church groups, and peace and justice organizations. To order a video ($14.95 plus $2 shipping and handling), contact: Maryknoll World Productions, P.O. Box 308, Maryknoll, NY 10545-03088; 1-800-227-8523.
Body of Dissent, a video documentary on gay and lesbian Brethren and Mennonites, is an important resource for congregations that are exploring sexuality issues and struggling to discern what is the appropriate Christian response to homosexuality. In full recognition that lesbian and gay membership is one of the most divisive issues facing churches today, Body of Dissent is a useful tool in beginning discussion and working toward change.
Written, directed, and produced by Holly Nattall, Body of Dissent contains personal testimonies by individuals struggling within their faith for social justice and the vital sense of community that are both Mennonite and Brethren traditions. To obtain a copy of this 40-minute video for $30, write: Brethren/Mennonite Council, Box 6300, Minneapolis, MN 55406-0300.