First things first, we (local youth and adults who attended the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering) would like to thank our home churches and community for the financial and prayer support that helped get us to and carried us throughout our trip to New Orleans from July 18-23.
For five fast-paced days we were at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Youth Gathering in New Orleans, LA. During our time there, we practiced peacemaking, justice and christian discipleship. We we challenged by the human struggles still being dealt with by the people of New Orleans, were excited to hear church and world leaders like Bishop Hanson, Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber and Shane Claiborne speak and dance
and sing with the many amazing musicians that performed at the Super Dome. In the Convention Center we
we challenged to seek out ways to peace in our communities, schools, families and churches by learning more
ways to serve others. We shared wonderful meals and southern hospitality together, walked many miles in the
Louisiana rain, sun and heat, and learned how to navigate the trolley system when our feet needed a rest. On our service day, we learned more about the long-lasting effects of slavery and were asked to use our cultural and economic privileges to help those who have less power.
The trip was a whirlwind of activity that was taken in by our local CALY group: Chautauqua Area Lutheran Youth.
Our group included 16 people from five different Lutheran Churches in our county: Bethel, Immanuel, Holy Trinity,
St. Timothy and First Lutheran. These are the people in our group that witnessed the sights, sounds, and story of
New Orleans and the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering: Julie Bihler, Darcy Whitney, Ian Eastman, Tara Eastman, T.J. Bihler, Bradley Bihler, Nathan Saar, Sophie White, Emily Whitney, Kirsten Magnuson, Emily Magnuson, Caylee Shelters, Nigel Eastman, Jeremy Hatfield, Sean Kilmartin and Danielle Guichard.
The stories from this experience are just starting to settle. Please ask about how we saw Jesus during this trip -
we'd love to tell you all about it!
A song we learned in worship this last week went like this, "I want my life, to make a difference. I want my life
to make a change." May the words of this song, our experience in New Orleans and our faith in God help us to
make a difference in our lifetime. May theses things help us to remember God's purpose and call to serve others. Help us to be the change we want and need to see - everywhere we go.
PS. The gathering this year was a group of 38,000 Lutheran youth and adult leaders. In 2015, it's been announced that the National Youth Gathering will be held in Detroit, Michigan. We cant' wait to see all 38,000 of you again in Rock City!