ELCA Youth Gathering to bring thousands to New Orleans

6/11/2024 10:55:00 AM

​CHICAGO — Meeting under the theme "Created to Be," nearly 16,000 youth, adult leaders and others from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will participate in the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, La., July 16-20. The Gathering brings together high school age Lutherans from across the country and overseas for faith formation, worship, fellowship and service.

Tammy Jones West, director for ELCA youth ministry and the Gathering, described what she hopes youth will experience during the event.

"I want participants to leave knowing that they matter, that they are loved and that they are sent out into a hurting world to love like Jesus," said West. "The theme 'Created to Be' leans into each of these ideas. We gather for this faith formation event, the largest in the ELCA, and we have the privilege of looking into the eyes of young people who often are forgotten, dismissed or ignored. For their time at the Gathering, my prayer is that they will be seen, heard and cared for, and will find the love of Christ in those gathered."

Speakers during the event include the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop; Austin Channing Brown, bestselling author of I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness; the Rev. Lori Fuller, founding pastor of Palms Deaf Church, Palm Coast, Fla.; and the Rev. Emily Harkins Norris, founder of the Dwelling, a ministry for those experiencing homelessness in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Over three days, youth and young adults will join local leaders in New Orleans in Accompaniment projects that serve the needs of the city. The service projects include cleaning storm drains and building community gardens, learning how their voices can make a difference through advocacy, and engaging in anti-racism training. Partners in this work include Culture of Cleanliness, District B Neighborhood Associations, and ELCA Witness in Society, the church's advocacy office. 

Two events will precede the Gathering — the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the tAble, both scheduled for July 13-16. The MYLE empowers young people of color and whose primary language is other than English to claim their role in God's story. The tAble blesses and empowers young people who live with a wide range of physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities.

Due to the cancellation of the 2022 ELCA Youth Gathering, MYLE and tAble, many youth missed out on the opportunity to participate in these events. In response the Gathering will partner with ELCA Young Adult Ministry for the first-ever Young Adult Gathering, open to individuals who will be 18 to 35 at the time of the event. The Young Adult Gathering will present separate programming.

As youth prepare to attend the Gathering, many are participating in the ELCA World Hunger's Generation Zero-Hunger campaign in observance of the 50th anniversary of ELCA World Hunger. The campaign will support communities here in the United States and around the world through gifts given in advance of the Gathering and during the event. Other donations include in-kind gifts of items for disaster relief kits, with a goal of creating 3,000 kits to help New Orleans residents in the immediate days following a natural disaster.

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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with 3 million members in more than 8,700 worshiping communities across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands.," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer Martin Luther.

For information contact:
Candice Hill Buchbinder




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