This is a big week in the life of the ELCA, and the life of senior high young people at Trinity. On Wednesday evening, the ELCA Youth Gathering begins. 30,000 young people and their adult leaders will gather from congregations all over the country (and a whole bunch of international guests too!) for an amazing week of worship, faith formation, service and community. The Gathering happens every 3 years.
Trinity has a group of 35 who will be boarding a bus Monday morning and beginning their journey to Detroit, Michigan, the site of the Gathering.
The worship services and general sessions will take place at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions. The learning activities will take place in COBO Center, and the Gathering is going to use around 40 different hotels throughout the city for housing.
I’ve had the privilege of being on leadership teams for the Gathering for the last several events, and will again be this year.
Do you know what I love most about the Gathering?
There are lots of things that are pretty amazing. In fact, the whole event is pretty powerful. But the biggest thing I think, is that we are a part of the church that is willing to take this on. I mean when you think about it, it’s really kind of mind-bending:
- 30,000 young people
- A multi-million dollar budget
- Engaging 10,000 people in community service, every day
- Renting an NFL stadium
- Booking bands to provide music that regularly play places like…NFL stadiums
- An event with 2000-3000 volunteers
The size and the scope of this event quite literally doesn’t happen anywhere else within the church. And it literally takes three full years to plan and prepare.
I love that we are a part of a church that is willing to do this…to pull off an event of this scale. Our young people (and their adult leaders) are worth the energy, passion, resources and love that goes into making the Gathering a life-changing and faith-building experience. To pull off the Gathering takes a willingness to “think big.” There are financial and logistical risks that go into the event. And coordinating the planning is a monstrous task. I love that the ELCA takes this project on.
The theme for this year’s event is “Rise Up Together” and will focus on the redeeming work of God in the lives of God’s people through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. My prayer, and I hope yours too, is that all the 30,000 young people who participate experience this work of Jesus in their own life. And that as a church we continue to think big, and to create places for people young and old to experience God’s love in new and dynamic ways.
And you can participate too! The evening general sessions, and the “morning show” will be livestreamed on the web site. You can download the full schedule for the event here. And you can watch these sessions by going to www.elca.org/gathering and clicking on the button to watch the live-stream.
Please pray for Trinity’s group in Detroit this week. And pray for all who gather there for this amazing festival of God’s love in action!