Here's an overview of what our week will look like:
Tuesday, June 26th: Arrive in Houston
Wednesday, June 27th: Go to a Houston Astros baseball game; Opening gathering
Thursday, June 28th: Interactive learning day; Mass gathering
Friday, June 29th: Synod day; Mass gathering
Saturday, June 30th: Service learning day; Mass gathering
Sunday, July 1st: Closing Worship
Monday, July 2nd: Return home
In addition to following this blog, check out @ELCAgathering and #ELCAYG2018 on social media to see what others are up to!
It's hard to believe, but the National Youth Gathering is almost upon us! In just a week we will be flying out of Charlottesville to begin our journey to Houston. Final preparations are underway! This morning, Jennie and Vicar Melissa packed and organized the first aid kits we will take with us. As a group, we are finishing the cross key chains that we will give to those we meet.
We are thrilled to announce that God has abundantly provided and we have raised almost all the money to make this trip possible. So thank you, thank you, thank you to all those who have donated in some way. From buying a donut on a Sunday morning, to hiring a crew of youth to assist with yard work or moving, your support has made this possible. We are so grateful for your partnership with us.
We have just $798.32 left to raise, which is about $66/person. If you are feeling called to contribute in some way, talk to Jennie or drop her a note. We'd be happy to plug you into this opportunity any way we can.
We are working on staying hydrated and cool this week as we brace ourselves for the heat and humidity of Houston. We are excited to see how we will experience God's love in this place and look forward to sharing the love that changes everything! We will be posting a few times a day while in Houston, so be sure to check back in for updates. We can't wait to share this experience with all of you!
"This will be my second ELCA Youth Gathering. The previous gathering in Detroit was a very powerful experience, laying bare the fact that my faith is shared the world over -- a fact that best driven home through filling a stadium with 30,000 Lutherans. I hope to expand my relationship with the Christian community at large and help those in need along the way." ~ Eric
"My hope is to make more of an impact on the world" ~ Emily
"To improve the lives of others." ~ Wade
"I’m excited to go to Houston because I’ll get to help out the community, grow in faith, hang out with old friends, and make new ones!" ~ Elinor
"I’m excited to go to Houston to help people in need and grow in my faith" ~ Karen
"I saw how fun the last youth gathering was and I really want to get this experience" ~ Erin
"To be apart of something bigger and do good" ~ Grant
"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity" ~ Izzy
"I want to meet new people who are like me and share my same interests" ~ Grace K
"I am excited for Houston because I am going to make new friends and because I have never been to Texas" ~ Grace F
"To see God working through our amazing youth and see what He has to teach us." ~ Kayla
"I’m excited to visit the home of the most recent World Series Champions!" ~ Melissa
"I am anticipating to see our youth grow, learn and flourish in relationships with Christ" ~ Anna
"To do life together and to share God’s grace with those I love and those I have still to meet" ~ Jennie
"I do not get excited about things, but Houston is a good city and offers a unique multicultural environment" ~ Chris
Every three years as we gear up for the ELCA National Youth Gathering, we spend a lot of time preparing for the experience. Fundraising efforts get much of the attention, but we also use our youth group time to get ready for what we will encounter.
This fall, we began talking about single stories. Single stories tell part of a story, but not the whole story, leaving out nuance and detail. To help further explain this concept, we watched a TED Talk given by Chimamanda Adichie who said it this way: "The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story."
After watching this video, we shared with one another examples of single stories that we have heard and believed. We talked about single stories that have been used to define us or those we know. We explored questions like "What are moments that define your view of the world?" and "How might you hear different stories?".
We wrestled with the danger of assuming a single story of people we have encountered (or will encounter) through service. We shared how we would look for more than a single story, both in our own Charlottesville community and in Houston.
As we get ready for our day of service learning in Houston, we invite you to grapple with these questions along with us. When has a single story affected your perception of someone? When has a single story you held been wrong? How are you seeking out other voices to hear different stories? Thanks for joining us on this journey.
Dear God, as people of faith we are called to move beyond charity and enter into relationships with people who are different from us, to walk alongside them in their mission, and to join them in building a better world. Guide us in our efforts to do this. Open our hearts and minds to hear the multitude of stories, not just one. In Jesus name. Amen.
Peace Lutheran Youth
Middle School Youth Group (grades 6-8) and a High School Youth Group (grades 9-12) meet weekly and also participate in Virginia Synod and ELCA youth events. Our youth are a vital part of Peace and we welcome all to join us!