Houston, We have a Gathering!
You’ve probably been hearing a lot at church lately about the upcoming National Youth Gathering in Houston, Texas. We have fourteen youth and three adults from St. Paul’s attending the Gathering from June 27-July 1, and you might be wondering what this is all about.
Lutheran youth from across the United States have gathering in some form for well over a century. Today, the ELCA hosts a national gathering every three years for all youth in grades 8-12. The last one was in Detroit in 2015. These events typically bring together 30,000 youth and adults for five days of interactive learning, community building, and service. We gather for worship together each evening and hear from inspiring speakers like Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Leymah Gbowee, Marian Wright Edelman and more.
The theme for this year’s Gathering is: “This Changes Everything.” We will explore together how God’s actions in Jesus Christ make a difference in our lives and in the world. One day will be spent in service, partnering with existing organizations in Houston to help them meet the needs of their community. One day will be spent with other churches from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, diving more deeply into our biblical theme and learning from each other. One day will be spent in interactive learning at the convention center, seeing what the ELCA is up to around the world and close to home.
Perhaps the most important thing the Gathering does, though, is provide our youth (and adults!) with the knowledge that they are part of something larger than themselves. One past participant described it this way on the Gathering blog: “The Gathering sparked something inside me I did not know I had; it made me feel part of something bigger than I knew existed. The Gathering enabled me to grow in my faith, leadership, and service.”
Thank you so much to everyone who has helped our group along our way. It is a huge undertaking to attend a Gathering, but one which is very much worth it in terms of the meaningful impact on our young people. Your contributions have made it possible. As we continue our final stages of planning, and when we are in Houston, I ask for your prayers for our group, that we might be open to this experience and see how “this changes everything.”