Journal-Volunteer Service Mission begins

Journal 7/4/1971

This is my third day with the Friends Volunteer Service Mission (VSM), Friends United Meeting (FUM), Second Friends Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. Dad, Randy and Jon came with me straight from Okoboji. I’m glad they did. We spent July1 at Howard Johnson’s in Indianapolis. Dad helped a lot with the last minute details. I miss everyone very much.

I spend the morning of July 2 in bed, trying to recover from  cold. Paul Cluxton, who has been here for at least 10 months, was working that day. Paul belongs to Wilmington Yearly Meeting, went to Wilmington College, had a church during his last two years there, and went to Earlham School of Religion. I think we will get along well.

We spent the afternoon and evening at the Southwest Social Center.  11 High School kids and two leaders were arriving for a 7 week project sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and West Indianapolis Neighborhood Congress (WINC).

We met with the Quaker Men–Nick Block, pastor of Second Friends, Les Paulson, John Porter and Bill Burnhart, Saturday morning. They are working on Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL).

I finished unpacking and wrote some letters. We spent more time with the AFSC group, including a picnic and baseball game. This morning felt better and went to Sunday School, where we considered what freedom is.

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom s an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘Your shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”             Galatians 5:13,14

“A Christian may submit to external violence, may be deprived of his bodily freedom, may not be free from his passions (he who commits a sin is a slave of sin) but he cannot help but be free, in the sense of not being compelled by some danger or external threat to commit an act which is contrary to his consciousness.”                   Leo Tolstoy

Sunday School was followed by Church. We began with songs, had a lay meditation followed by silence. Then Nick Block, pastor, spoke, telling us that we were a revolutionary community, whose time had come to venture forth, primarily through such actions supported by Quaker Men as Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL), WINC, etc. I was uncomfortable with the service, being accustomed to unprogrammed (silent) meeting for worship, and yet I don’t know how you reach people and try to get them to support Christian actions in the community. Being a Conservative Friends is fine once you’re discovered and accepted it, but how do you reach others in the meantime?

(Note: I didn’t think much about it before hand, but being involved with a Quaker Church, with a minister, sermons, singing, etc, was one of the biggest adjustments I had to make at VSM.  Even now I don’t  understand  how Quakerism can be modified into traditional Christian church services.)

After Church Gary of Schenectady, who is at the other Volunteer Service Mission (VSM) unit in the black section of the city, and Tom, son of Les and Phyllis Paulson, joined us for lunch. Paul is a good cook, fortunately, and fixed friend chicken (though Gary is a vegetarian), rice, corn, tapioca, etc. We used some of Gary’s homemade yogurt.

We moved three beds to the Social Center for the AFSC group.

At present things seem to be going well. I have an interview at St. Vincent’s hospital Tuesday and hope to get the job there.

VSM jeff

Volunteer Service Mission brochure


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