Hosting an ARC project is inexpensive and the benefits are many... find out why you should get involved now!
As an ecumenical organisation run by young people, ARC promotes contact between volunteers from different European countries and different Christian backgrounds. In each location, the volunteers form an international community, living, eating and meeting together for daily prayer and reflection. The project is a unique journey, offering all parties the opportunity to explore, discover or re-discover God's continued presence in these monumental buildings and in one another.
For the volunteers, ARC offers a sustained encounter, inspiring cultural, spiritual, and ecumenical dialogue within the group, with visitors and with the local community.
ARC is a real alternative for young people not satisfied by conventional tourism and the superficial intimacy squeezed into a trip abroad. We provide a chance for volunteers to be involved with a local community, to be useful, and to make real contact with another culture. In the words of one of our volunteers, we offer a space for those wanting ‘to take time out to contemplate and get closer to God.’
Whether in addition to, or providing summer respite for the regular guides, young people have the potential to reinvigorate and inspire the whole community.
It is good for us to welcome young people from around Europe into our distinctive pilgrims-together model of church here at The Abbey. They enjoy the interaction with us and their sharing in our life and ministry at our busiest time of the year is very invigorating for all the staff who meet and support them. They work hard at learning about the building and take their responsibilities as tour guides very seriously.
Every summer, since the early 1980s, three or four students from different European countries have spent a month in Salisbury as part of the work of ARC 'to practise the European spirit.' Their love of the building, their enthusiasm, and their endearing personalities have been a source of inspiration to many hundreds of our visitors and our own volunteer guides alike.
ARC Projects bring a sense of fun and community life to the summer months at the Cathedral. In entertaining the young people we find that it is a month of fun, prayer, meetings and outings for the permanent staff too. It improves our service to our European, South American and French-speaking visitors and the ARC guides are specifically asked to give tours mindful of our life as a working church not just as a place of historical interest. We recommend it is a highlight of our Cathedral life.’
Training: The emphasis of an ARC tour is on the spiritual and devotional significance of the building, drawing in historical, architectural and artistic information where appropriate. The guides are not expected to be experts, but need an adequate grounding in the basics. As a general rule, guides receive 2-3 days training on site before beginning their work. It is normally sufficient to provide training in English, though where possible it is helpful to have supplementary literature available in other languages.
Composition: A project normally accommodates 4-6 volunteers from the available language groups, chosen according to local tourism trends. ARC currently has arrangements to recruit English, French, Flemish/Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish speakers. We are also seeking to involve Polish and Russian speakers. Volunteers are normally aged between 18 and 30.
Support: Each group needs appropriate pastoral guidance and support. Plans should be made to involve them in the life of the church community.
Budget: Participants fund their own travel to and from the site, but other essential expenses (i.e. bed, board, and where possible some pocket money) are met by the host church. We advise budgeting upwards of £40 per person, per week, not including accommodation. In addition ARC UK requests some financial support towards the administrative costs involved.
Naomi Walmsley spent three weeks with ARC Italy in the Basilica San Marco, Venice in 2008. Here's what she had to say about her time there:
A wonderful, wonderful project. I really enjoyed finding ways to open the Basilica to everyone through religious ideas, history, culture, art and the stories of the people on the walls and those who had made the Basilica what it is. It was very rewarding when the visitors seemed to stop and look again and think about what was around them.
Request more information about hosting an ARC project by emailing the President.