Brethren Volunteer Service – Celebrating 75 years

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By Chelsea Goss Skillen, director of Brethren Volunteer Service

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” ~Romans 12:9-13

At Annual Conference in 1948, a young man stood on an orange crate to reach the mic. With palpable anticipation, a movement of youth were hoping to create a way to say ‘yes’ to the ways of peace through a program with the goal to serve. After some discussion, a unanimous decision was made by the conference, a spontaneous cheer came up from the youth sitting in the balcony, and at that moment, Brethren Volunteer Service was born.

Since its beginnings, over 7,000 volunteers have served through BVS, touching the lives of countless individuals and communities. With volunteer sites spanning the US and world, volunteers can be found working with disaster relief efforts, serving at sustainable development projects, working with those experiencing homelessness, living with individuals with intellectual disabilities, or serving at our beloved Brethren camps–just to name a few. BVS volunteers work toward building a more just and compassionate world by dedicating a year or two of their lives to serve and putting their faith into action.

As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of BVS, we honor the legacy of those who have dedicated their time, skills, and hearts to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Their commitment to service, their unwavering dedication, and their willingness to make a difference have left an indelible mark on the lives they have touched.

But BVS isn’t just about the impact it has on others. It is also a transformative experience for the volunteers themselves. Each individual who joins BVS embarks on a personal journey of growth, learning, and self-discovery. They immerse themselves in diverse cultures, challenging environments, and unfamiliar territories, gaining a deeper understanding of the world and their faith.

While Brethren Volunteer Service has evolved and adapted to meet the changing needs of the world, it continues to provide meaningful service opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds. BVS is committed to continue sharing God’s love through acts of service by Advocating Justice, Working for Peace, Serving Human Need and Caring for Creation. BVS holds dear its rich history of service as it looks forward to many more years of impacting the lives of our volunteers and the communities in which they serve.

You are invited to come join us in making a difference! Thank you for supporting servants of Christ around the world with hope and prayer.

Learn more about this ministry of the Church of the Brethren at or support it today at

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

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