By Kris Oppegard, AIM
Synod Youth Gathering Coordinator &
Family Minister, Zumbro Luthearn Church, Rochester
Another amazing ELCA Youth Gathering is history. I was glad to be part of it again, for the seventh time. On the way home, I thought “Wow, I am so glad to be a part of the ELCA!” As of July 30, the final official number of registrations for the Gathering was 33,310 from 2,244 ELCA congregations. Of course, these numbers don’t reflect the additional volunteers that were needed to make the Gathering a success!
As usual, our ELCA youth donated in ways that blew my mind. In the “Practice Peacemaking Interactive Learning Center” at the Convention Center each day of the Gathering, the final statistics were that 1,193 pints of blood were donated, 509 “heads” of hair for “Children with Hairloss” were given, and more than $400,000 was donated towards the 100 Wells Challenge. During our closing Sunday worship, $256,000 was collected during offering. The Sunday offering was split into four areas: new and emerging ministries in New Orleans, Young Adults in Global Mission work in South Africa, ELCA World Hunger, and the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
Our Southeastern Minnesota Synod sent 1,330 people to the Gathering. On Friday of the Gathering, our synod gathered for our “Practice Discipleship” day which began with worship, led by Bishop Usgaard. After worship, we had time in small groups to learn more about the seven faith practices of the ELCA. Those seven practices are Invite, Encourage, Pray, Worship, Study, Give, and Serve. “Send” was also included, though it is not technically not one of the seven faith practices. Each session concluded with a blessing and benediction. After the Gathering, home congregations are encouraged to use the “Welcome Home” litany with their Gathering group. The litany can be found at www.ELCA.org/youthgathering
The next ELCA Youth Gathering will be held in 2015 in Detroit, Mich.