by Kate Fritz
As the new academic year begins, St. Luke’s will help welcome recent graduates participating in Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) here in Chicago. It will be an important moment for those volunteers, and an important moment for St. Luke’s!
During my participation in LVC in 2008, I served as a volunteer coordinator with Habitat for Humanity in Tacoma, Washington. My favorite part of LVC was the intentionality: everything we did through the program was deliberate and thought-out, and the program encouraged us to do the same. We focused on concepts of community, social justice, sustainability, and spirituality, and we challenged ourselves and our own beliefs, while learning about those of others.
I believe Lutheran Volunteer Corps is a program that embodies the very same principles that St. Luke’s upholds – a regular reflection on our beliefs, as we explore the ways in which scripture and faith inform our daily practices. In the actual experience of LVC, we worked full time for local non-profits, while exploring the concepts of spirituality, social justice, and sustainability in our “off-time.” We lived in intentional community, where we worked toward consensus on daily details like which type of eggs to purchase (and let me tell you, I’ve spent at least 20 minutes at a time debating this decision) and we explored the ways in which our past experiences shape our current interpretations of events. We challenged ourselves to “no-waste weeks” and going vegan for Lent. We tried to reduce our carbon footprints, while connecting it to our understanding of Jesus’ call to ministry. We even donated our time outside of our full-time volunteer positions to other organizations and causes.
After a year with LVC, I felt that my personal belief in the good of religion had been renewed. I saw the Christianity of Dorothy Day and Deitrich Bonhoeffer. I saw a manifestation of faith that sought to restore justice to those who are least served by our current global economy. I saw people genuinely loving others and caring for their well-being — and not just because it made them feel good about themselves or because they could gain respect in their community. They did so because they felt called to do so; because they believed in it.
That’s what I got from LVC! And for me, the local church community that welcomed us to the area was a huge factor in our experience.Kate Fritz is a member of St. Luke’s who received her Master of Arts, 2012 from the School of Social Service Administration at University of Chicago, and is now living and working in Charlottesville, VA.