You are noticed and respected for your commitment to faith-based service. Whether yours is a program with decades of experience, or a newer program seeking to find your rhythms and voice, advocates from other parts of the service world recognize your contributions and potential. I was recently reminded of that.

Each week, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosts a video call with hundreds of religious leaders and advocates to educate about public policies and other timely matters. A few weeks ago, the call focused on the 9/11 Day of Service. I was invited to be one of four panelists speaking about why the day is important and how CVN would be taking part.

The panel was a great opportunity to introduce people to your ministry and witness. Moreover, it was a chance for me to think about important questions that CVN staff and board often consider: Who is CVN? What is meant by ‘we’? How do we honor the common witness of this network and respect the uniqueness of each program?

CVN staff and board recognize that you provide a range of services in a range of ways. One size does not fit all. Therefore, we try to maintain a stance of invitation when offering chances for members to join in common efforts. When we represent this network, we strive to lift up your spirit and witness in ways that honor your unique voice.

When I was asked to share what CVN would do on the 9/11 Day of Service, I knew I could not speak for all programs. But I knew that I could, perhaps, challenge you and other service partners to think more expansively about the occasion.

For those of you with volunteers in their early twenties, what do they really know of 9/11? For those of you with older volunteers having more formative memories, how can they share and witness? How might all your volunteers, regardless of age, explore that period in the context of the challenging time we are living through now? How did 9/11 – and how will this pandemic – shape perspectives on the need for service now and leadership in the future?

These major events shake us – but can also motivate us and the volunteers you walk with. Maybe there are special ways you can connect these happenings, how the world is changing, and how service can prepare volunteers to meet new needs. What opportunities does that focus present for your program?

The beauty of this network is that each of you may answer that differently. How you do so could be a gift for other members. If we – the CVN team – can help you share ideas and invitations, let me know.

A recording of the White House panel and other speakers on that call can be viewed HERE. The panel begins at the 3:45 mark.

With you in service,

Yonce Shelton
Executive Director

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