Volunteers Exploring Vocation (VEV)
Our Volunteers Exploring Vocation (VEV) program helps young adults explore the relationship between faith and work during their year of service in more than a dozen faith-based service programs. VEV participants serve in the places where they are called to embody love of God and neighbor, and connect with peers and mentors while considering the call of God upon their lives.
Check out this short animated clip, written and inspired by volunteers taking part in VEV partner programs.
Working in partnership with year-long faith-based service programs, VEV integrates vocational discernment as one of each program's benchmarks, along with service, working for peace and justice, living in intentional community, pursuing a simplified lifestyle and continuing spiritual growth.
Young adults who participate in VEV partner programs engage in vocational discernment through retreats, spiritual direction and other programs; and may be chosen to attend national, ecumenical gatherings hosted by FTE to learn about theological education and congregational ministry; and are eligible to apply for an FTE Volunteers Exploring Vocation Fellowship.
Serving God through Serving the Neighbor
Most volunteers come into VEV programs shaped by the definition of vocation offered by Frederick Buecher (FTE Fellow '54) in Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, (New York: Harper and Row, 1973, page 95): "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." Many students have worked with this concept as an operating definition of vocation explored in college course work, or in Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV), which have shaped the landscape of discernment among college students at participating schools.
Douglas Schuurman in his book, Vocation: Discerning Our Callings in Life (Grand Rapids, MI: William Eerdmans, 2004), offers a definition of vocation in a chapter entitled, Vocations, Decisions and the Moral Life, that states:
In and through one’s vocation one picks up one’s cross, follows Christ, and participates in his self-sacrificial suffering. Christians should not aim at self-fulfillment (page 118).
The primary consideration (of vocation) is not discovering the self; it is to serve the neighbor, even to the point of sacrificing the self and its interests…Vocation is first of all about serving God through serving the neighbor. The modern association of self-fulfillment runs against (this)…The point is not to seek one’s self….The point is to love God and neighbor (pages 123-124)
The Christian call is far broader than….one’s paid work…..If our whole existence is to serve Christ in and through our lives, then our existence will find its ultimate meaning and worth elsewhere than in our particular vocations.(page 149)
Volunteers within our VEV partner programs discover their vocational identity as an orientation “to love God and neighbor” as they serve. This vocation is possible in any context, within careers or callings that have deep meaning and purpose, and during times in life which are transitions to those places. Volunteers Exploring Vocation participants are also encouraged to consider whether God is calling them to positions of leadership in the church, and may apply as entering Master of Divinity students for a VEV Fellowship.