Each night of the Gathering we will come together in the NRG Stadium for a time of inspiring speakers, uplifting music and more. Be a part of the Mass Gatherings by indicating your group’s interest in Mass Casts when you register.
Our speakers will share how God’s call, God’s love, God’s grace and God’s hope changed everything in their lives. Be watching here in the months to come as we release speaker names and bios.
Our house band leads us in singing each night. You will sing some of your favorite praise songs and hymns and you will learn some new favorites!
Throughout the Gathering, special guest bands will join us to share their love of Christ and neighbor through song. Announcements on our special guest musicians coming soon.
On Sunday, July 1 we will gather one last time in the stadium for closing worship and the eucharist. Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton will preach and we will celebrate and remember that Jesus Changes Everything! Be a part of closing worship by indicating your group’s interest in being Communion assistants when you register.
Joy is a senior in high school and her family is from Nigeria. After graduation, she hopes to become a pediatrician and change lives and make the world around me a better place.
She attended the 2015 gathering in Detroit and was so deeply moved and inspired by the experience overall that she couldn’t help but want to do it all over again. She sees genuine value in this kind of gathering that she doesn't think you can get anywhere else! She is super excited to be part of this Gathering as one of your emcees!
Ben Bernstein is 19 years old and attends St. John’s Lutheran in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is very excited for this year’s ELCA Youth Gathering. This will be his second Gathering and he is ecstatic to be able to experience it as an emcee! He can’t wait to see what God has in store for all of us in Houston!
Abby is a senior at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, but she still calls Minnesota home. In her free time she enjoys being a campus ministry leader, eating tacos, laughing at puns, and playing/watching any sport you put in front of her. A weird fact about Abby is that she is not ticklish.
Nadia Bolz-Weber is an ELCA pastor and works as the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. She is the author of two New York Times bestselling memoirs: Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (2013) and Accidental Saints; Finding God in All the Wrong People (2015). Nadia travels domestically and internationally as a speaker.
Rev. Tuhina Verma Rasche lives a hyphenated life as a second-generation Indian-American raised in a devout Hindu household. She sometimes wonders how she became a pastor in the ELCA and often wrestles with God's call. Yet, through God's persistence, she tries to answer the call to work for the representation of God's full diversity within the church.
Jaszy grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She is also a second generation member of All Peoples Church, and she loves Puerto Rican food.
Stephen Bouman presently is Executive Director for Domestic Mission Unit of the ELCA, in which he directs all the domestic ministry of the church body. He served over twenty years in parish ministry in New York City and New Jersey. He served as Bishop of the Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA from 1996-2008. He has written books on parish ministry, the response of the church to the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, on immigration issues. His current book, The Mission Table is being used in congregations and synods throughout the ELCA. He is the founder of the Diakonia lay training program.
Carson McCullar is an 18 year old senior at Archway Academy in Houston, Texas. He has just over 2 years of continuous sobriety and recovery from drugs and alcohol. Without the help of God and those who love me, he wouldn’t be around to share my experience, strength, and hope with the other addicts and alcoholics who need it most.
Maria Rose Belding is the co-founder and executive director of MEANS Database, a national nonprofit tech company that has rerouted more than 1.7 million pounds of food waste to people in need. She has spoken on hunger, poverty and God’s call for justice in 19 US states and the Obama White House, and been recognized for her work by, among others, Starbucks, L’Oreal Paris, and the Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Maria Rose is a junior at American University in Washington, DC, where she studies public health on the premed track with a concentration in caffeine and power naps. Although she was raised and retained ELCA, this is Maria Rose’s first time attending the Youth Gathering, and she is STOKED to talk to fellow young Lutherans about how God changes everything.
Aaron has a passion for youth and young adult ministry in a variety of roles: Parish Pastor, Navy Reserve Chaplain, and Wrestling Coach. He is currently serving a call to specialized ministry as a Navy Chaplain, responsible for ministering to over 3,000 individuals deployed worldwide. He resides in Virginia Beach, VA with his wife Kelly Schumacher Fuller. He is also the unofficial ELCA Lutheran Honeybadger.
Will Starkweather is an ELCA pastor serving St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sugar Land, Texas. He has a passion for worship and pastoral care, and loves helping people find healing through ritual. Will believes that we are all recovering from something, but God’s grace can bring beauty out of brokenness.
Michaela Shelley is a student at Converse College from Spartanburg, South Carolina who lives with Mitochondrial Disease. She advocates and raises awareness for the needs of teenagers and young adults who are struggling with chronic illnesses. She writes about her experiences at: ChronicallyAwesome23.blogspot.com
Jamie and Rebekah Bruesehoff are a mother-daughter team advocating for transgender children and youth. Jamie is a writer, speaker, and educator who is passionate about sharing her family’s story to create positive change. Rebekah, eleven years old, spreads her message of hope for trans kids internationally through public speaking, television appearances, and social media.
Since the beginning of her career, Ginny has been inspiring audiences with life-giving songs and stories of encouragement. Having been blind since age 3, her unique perspective on life and faith has a way of helping others see with more clarity.
Caroline Meeker is a freshman at Texas Tech University. She is involved in many things on campus including being a wish granter through the 'Make a Wish' foundation, she is a member of Chi Omega sorority, and when she's not being blown around by Lubbock's wind, she loves spending most of her time with her friends!
Marlon F. Hall is a lecturing anthropologist and storyteller who uses film, art-installations, salon dinner parties, and yoga to unearth beauty from brokenness. He is the Director for Folklore Films, a Sourcing Innovation lecturing fellow at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity, and a Yoga Teacher at Big Power Yoga. His life intention is to cultivate human potential in ways that are whimsically beautiful and positively willful.
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton an internationally-known Poet, Singer, Actress, Photographer, Wife, Mother, and the current Poet Laureate for the City of Houston. She is a native-Californian who now resides in Houston,TX. She was formerly ranked the #2 Best female Poet in the World, D.E.E.P. has established herself as a notable force in the Performance and Slam Poetry World.
Combining rapping, dancing, storytelling and his fluency in Spanish, AGAPE* connects with his listeners in a way that they really "get it". His energy is contagious, and his stories of faith transcend differences. Even those who do not normally enjoy hip-hop, find themselves dancing to his music and captivated by his unique presentation of the Gospel. AGAPE* brings an authentic approach by translating the theological depth of his seminary training into simple songs and stories that can be understood by every listener. His passion is to bring together people of all backgrounds and let them know about God's love for the whole world. This is "AGAPE*"!
Tauren is the former frontman for Royal Tailor, a Provident Label Group/Sony Music act whose two albums over a five-year career garnered two Grammy nominations and another for New Artist of the Year from the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. His message? "I feel called to call greatness out of people," he says. "If people have spoken a low expectation of someone’s life, I want to be the voice that raises the ceiling, makes them feel like they can do something great."
Tenth Avenue North has long been known for the depth and vulnerability of their songwriting since they released their acclaimed national debut, Over and Underneath, in 2008. Quickly winning fans’ allegiance with radio staples like "Love Is Here," "Hold My Heart" and "By Your Side" (GMA’s 2010 Song of the Year), the band was named the Gospel Music Association’s New Artist of the Year in 2009. The group gained further momentum with three additional full-length records that spawned hits like "You Are More," "Losing," "Worn" and "No Man Is an Island," among others, and has sold in excess of one million albums to date.
LZ7 are a Christian electronic dance music group from Manchester. The band was formed in 2005 by Lindz West, a member of dance band The Tribe, who had split up the previous year. LZ7 worked for many years as a part of the Christian charity The Message Trust, working with tens of thousands of teenagers each year in schools across Greater Manchester, Maidenhead and Reading.
Rachel Kurtz is an incredible singer/songwriter with a beautiful voice and an amazing story. Rachel shares personal testimonies of tragedy and triumph with a vulnerability that captivates her audience. She has performed at the last three ELCA Youth Gatherings and has had the opportunity to travel to Africa, Germany and India with her music ministry. She has a strong desire to make a difference in the world through her music and a passion for global justice.
Tyra Dennis is excited to join the ELCA Youth Gathering as the house band leader. Tyra currently dedicates her time to Another Level Ministries as the Minister of Music and Worship Leader. She is also one of the co-directors of ELEVATE, a High School Christian Club that is based out of Los Angeles, CA under the umbrella of Another Level Ministries LA. When she is not in her ministry or worship element, she can be found playing piano with some of the coolest artist and musicians that the west coast has to offer. It is her honor to answer the call of leading the youth of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America in multi-sensory worship.
Anthony Eder - Percussion
Aisha Gaillard - Drums
Jonathan Hemphill - Keyboards
Miles Jensen - Acoustic Guitar
Estelita Jernigan - Vocals
Michael Lis - Electric Guitar
Carley Nunn - Vocals
Paul Plata - Vocals
Michael Wooton - Bass Guitar
Donovan Wright - Vocals