Kristin Flory will retire at the end of 2019 as Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) staff at the Brethren Service Europe office in Geneva, Switzerland. The office is being closed. In the new year, the Europe program of BVS will shift to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Flory has served in the position for almost 33 years, since 1987. During three-plus decades of work for the Church of the Brethren, she has supervised more than 300 BVS volunteers in many different countries, maintained working relationships with each project site across Europe, organized and led annual retreats for the volunteers, and continued relations with European ecumenical organizations.
Under her leadership, BVSers have served at projects focused on peace and reconciliation–sometimes in war and conflict zones, worked with children and families, lived in communities with people with disabilities, worked with refugees and homeless people, and more.
Among her accomplishments, Flory maintained strong ties with organizations doing peace and reconciliation work in Northern Ireland during the “Troubles” between Protestants and Catholics, and placed volunteers in the Balkans as the wars there ended. Flory engaged BVS with L’Arche Communities where volunteers lived and worked together in community with people with and without intellectual disabilities. For many years she maintained connections with eastern Europe and continued the Church of the Brethren’s post-war Polish agricultural exchange, placing volunteers to teach English and work with environmental groups in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. A BVSer was placed with a church in East Berlin a few years after the Berlin wall came down.
In addition to her work with BVSers, Flory was the denomination’s Europe representative and served in that capacity at annual meetings of ecumenical and peace organizations and at European church events and conferences.