Twenty faith-based service programs (listed below) have been selected for this honor. They include programs that are varied in their program design and affiliations. They share a common commitment to change the world by integrating faith with service. Some are run out of the national offices of denominations,while others are standalone non-profits that have affiliations. Some of these programs are connected to Catholic orders like the Lasallians and the Jesuits, while others are linked to historic peace churches like the Quakers, Brethren and the Mennonites. Each program has its own unique way of operating and distinct ways of connecting faith and service.
Service Programs that Change the World is part of a movement to reclaim the important historic role that faithcommunities have played in promoting community and justice while offering meaningful opportunities to engage in the world. Each program offers participants the opportunity to work with agencies and organizations on the front line of building community and fighting poverty.
Rev. Wayne Meisel, the Director of the Center for Faith and Service selected the programs based on a decade of work with these kinds of organizations. In his view, organizations on the 2014 list of Service Programs that Change the World have demonstrated a common commitment to invite, welcome, support, train and launch individuals into the world as community leaders. The organizations were selected in large part because of:
A connection to a denomination, order or religious expression with a mission and vision to prophetically and lovingly engage in the world
The quality of the local community partners where members are placed and where they are supported to both contribute and grow
The depth of programming provided for members for spiritual exploration, faith formation and vocational discernment
Meisel, an ordained Presbyterian Minister, has a long and distinguished career in the world of community service, service learning and civic engagement. He was appointed to serve on the President’s Commission on National and Community Service, where he is credited for being one of the architects of the AmeriCorps Program. He also served as a founding board member for Teach for America and is the Founding President of the Bonner Foundation. Currently, he directs the Center for Faith and Service, which develops innovative programming for churches and denominations and seeks renewal of theological education through the reintegration of faith and service.
Service Programs that Change the World is by no means an exhaustive or exclusive list. It represents a collection of institutions that Meisel and his team believe are prepared to welcome idealistic and committed individuals who have demonstrated their engagement in the world or who seek to gain experience in justice work. As readers encounter the website, they are encouraged to identify other faith-based programs that provide opportunities for a year of service and to nominate those groups to be added to the list.
Besides honoring these organizations with well-deserved accolades, the website offers easy access to comprehensive information that includes specific details to broad vision statements. In fact, we’ve provided a link to the application for the programs. In addition to the programs explored, current seminarians who are deeply committed and involved in their communities are profiled on the website, and common myths about theological education are addressed. The website also offers other information and logistical details like requirements, deadlines and costs. It also provides a chance to learn more about the mission and vision of each program.
The 2014 list of Service Programs that Change the World includes:
McCormick Theological Seminary is one of 12 schools related to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is an accredited member of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) and is affiliated with the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Cluster of Theological Schools and the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS). As one of the nation’s most respected seminaries, it celebrates and prepares women and men from all denominations and backgrounds for Christian ministry and service, advancing a model of education that is cross-cultural, urban, Reformed and ecumenical.
The Center for Faith and Service is an initiative of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL that supports a generation of young adults that are defined by their commitment to service and justice. Because faith is central to the motivating and sustaining this commitment, the Center is implementing creative programs through partnerships with local congregations and national church offices, as well as renewing theological education through collective efforts by seminaries and divinity schools to recruit, train, and launch individuals into both traditional and new forms of ministry.