ELCA Youth Gathering

July 15-19, 2015
Detroit, Mich.

Youth Gathering is a life-changing experience


Some 600 youth and adults from the Northeastern Iowa Synod joined 30,000 others from around the world for the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit under the theme “Rise Up Together.” The event provided leadership development, faith formation, service opportunities and more.

ELCA Youth Gatherings are held every three years. The next Gathering will be June 27 – July 1, 2018, in Houston.

Life-changing, amazing, unimaginable, and impactful are some of the words members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) used to describe their experience during this year’s ELCA Youth Gathering meeting in Detroit.

Read More

“I’ve been looking forward to this week since the last day of the 2012 Youth Gathering in New Orleans,” said Joe Risdall, a member of Lifehouse Church in Northridge, Calif. “It’s such a great time and such a great atmosphere for all the Lutherans around the country and all over the world to come together to have a great time and learn about Christ.”

Inspirational is how Kyla Wiesneski, from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Menomonee Falls, Wis., described her Gathering experience.

“The week has made me stronger and made me open my eyes to the problems in the world,” said Wiesneski. “I did the Walk for Water and it was really difficult. It’s inhumane that people have to go through all of that for water.”

The gathering’s Walk for Water effort is hosted by ELCA’s World Hunger at the Cobo Center. The walk simulates the experience of women in Sub-Saharan Africa who walk an average of three miles each day to fetch water for their families. Other activities at the center included painting plywood boards that will be used to board up abandoned homes in Detroit.

“The theme of my board is love,” said Taylor Amundson from Messiah Lutheran in North Mankato, Minn. “We’re drawing hearts all over this tree … we’re going to bring love to Detroit.”
Amundson said eye-opening is how she would describe the Gathering. “Just being here opens my eyes, makes my faith stronger.”

Jesse Andersen, from Lifehouse Church, said he hopes the Gathering leaves the city of Detroit “with a peace of mind because, although they struggle, there are very strong people here. I can see that and feel that in the environment.” Andersen described the event as impactful.

Madelynne O’Callaghan, from Trinity Lutheran in Midland, Mich., said the Gathering has been a life-changing experience. She reflected on the Lutheran Disaster Response exhibit at the Cobo Center.

“You got to be immersed in the whole experience of being a refugee. I hadn’t really gotten that point of view. I had the point of view of volunteers and helpers, so now I feel like I have a better understanding. It puts into perspective what other people are going through and makes you want to help them a lot more,” said O’Callaghan.

“I always like taking them out of the Midland community so they can get a bigger idea of what God’s kingdom is and all the different people that make up the kingdom of God,” said   Jordan Palladino, Trinity’s youth ministry director, who described the event as eye-opening. “I love any chance they get to see other believers working across the world, of what we can do to impact God’s kingdom – not just in [the] Midland community and not just in our lives but on a global scale – and opening their eyes to that is something I love to do and have a passion for,” he said.

A significant aspect of the ELCA Youth Gathering is community service projects throughout the city of Detroit.
“I love our church so much,” said Andrea Sova from Trinity, who also described the week as life-changing. “We’re not only helping out in the community with work and physical stuff, but I think we’re also spreading our faith.”

“Even though they’re having hard times through all this stuff, it’s still a really pretty city from what I’ve seen,” said Alyssa Anderson from Our Savior’s Lutheran in Austin, Minn., who used the word fun to describe the event. “It’s a really nice city. I hope it gives them faith and hope and shows them that they are loved whether they are religious or not.”

Nick Mittelsteadt from Cross of Christ Lutheran in Welch, Minn., also used the word “fun” to describe his experience. He said that one of the highlights of the Gathering are the evening Main Stage events at Ford Field.

“I’ve had a lot of fun and basically at the end of the day when we go to Ford Field I just like feeling all the emotion – it makes your heart tingle. It’s really awesome and a lot of fun.”  


Photo Gallery


View more photos from the Gathering.

Read more about the Gathering at http://elca.org/YouthGathering.

Mark’s “Rise Up” Words of Wisdom

ANDERSON-MARK-smAdult leaders to the youth attending the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit are people who will faithfully tend to the faith, community, and safety of the congregation’s young people — all on almost no sleep!

I feel adamantly that the success of the Gathering is not measured by what hotel you are assigned or if your group found the Hard Rock Café. Rather, the success of the Gathering should be measured by the growth in the faith and discipleship of the youth (and adults) attending. That growth begins with the preparation for the Gathering that the youth and adults do together.

Please read and share the series of “Words of Wisdom” I will be posting below to help adult leaders and youth prepare and plan for the 2015 Youth Gathering:

“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now rise up,” says the Lord;
“I will place them in the safety for which they long.”

—Ps 112:5


Words of Wisdom
#34 10 Tips for a Great Gathering

Look for at least one email every day of the Gathering, with helpful reminders, various instructions, and the daily schedule.

Check out these 10 Tips for a Great Gathering.


Words of Wisdom
#33 More Food Options

I know many of you are worried about getting food. Fear not, in addition to the opportunities at Ford Field each evening and the food at the Cobo center, there will be two more….

Read More

Community Life welcomes you to a new, unique venue. We call it The Tailgate, located on the patio at the Crown Plaza Hotel in downtown, immediately across the street from COBO Center. So close, in fact, you could sit on the patio and see youth coming and going from the main entrance doors of COBO.

Every day beginning at 11 a.m., The Tailgate venue will offer freshly grilled food for purchase, café style tables and chairs, and live music from artists like Rachel Kurtz and local bands. Local artisans will also be there to display their art — everything from photography to visual art, sculptures made from local scrap, and more. Come for lunch and linger for conversation, as the musicians and artists will remain until 4 p.m. daily.

Food will be served at The Tailgate until 1:30 p.m. or until it is gone. If you miss lunch, grab a bite at the food trailers in Hart Plaza, and come over to the café tables at The Tailgate, to enjoy your meal and the local art. With the menu options and artists changing daily, this is a great place to visit daily!


Words of Wisdom
#32 Shuttle Schedule

If you signed up to use the Gathering’s daily shuttle, you can view your hotel’s morning departure schedule in the guidebook app!



Words of Wisdom
#31 Welcome Namibia Guests

The Northeastern Iowa Synod is hosting Hileni Nuuyuni and Vaino Junias Kambungu, 15- and 16-year-old youth from our Companion Synod Namibia, from July 3 – 15. They will be attending the ELCA Youth Gathering, and I hope you will take an opportunity to meet them.

Read More
Thank you to Pastor Steve Windsor from Hampton, and Pastor Elaine Siemsen from Cresco for hosting these youth.

If you would like to meet the youth and hear more about life in Namibia, we have the following opportunities.

A synod-wide meet and greet for both Namibian guests is set for Wednesday, July 8, 5:30 p.m., at St. Paul, Hampton. This event includes a potluck supper and free-will offering to support the Namibian Travel Fund.

Hileni  Nuuyuni:
St. Peter, Rockwell,  10:30 a.m. Worship, July 12

Following the service there will be a picnic meal, pulled pork sandwiches and cookies with potluck side dishes. All are welcome. Worship will be in the Oak Tree Circle on the corner of Madison & Second Ave. Bring a lawn chair

Vaino Junias Kambungu:
Zion, West Union, 9 a.m. Worship, July 12


Gathering Food items

Words of Wisdom
#30 Ford Field Menu & Prices
It’s already been on Facebook and Twitter but just in case you missed it, here is the official Menu for concessions offered at Ford Field.


Words of Wisdom
#29 Find the Gathering App

Yes, there is an ELCA Youth Gathering app for your phone. Go to Play Store for Androids or to the App Store for Apple products and download “Guidebook.” Then search for “ELCA” and when you see the list of publications choose “Rise Up Together.” Once all that is downloaded you will have in the palm of your hand:

  • The daily Schedule
  • A map showing your location
  • The Getting Ready Materials
  • Resultants guides
  • Social Media Links
  • Achieves of the gNews
  • And more is being added every day.


Words of Wisdom
#28 Let the Whole Congregation Attend

Now is the right time to be sure it gets to the parents and gets in the Sunday bulletin that everyone can participate in the Youth Gathering. How?

  • The events in Ford Field will be LIVE STREAMED.  Folks can watch by going to elca.org/gathering.
  • Members who are on Facebook can like the ELCA Gathering and follow the daily posts and photos.
  • Members who are on Twitter and Instagram will be able to follow the best of the Gathering by seeing the work of the cracker jack social media team.
  • Does your congregation have a Facebook page?  Don’t’ forget that you can post pictures of your group at the Gathering on your page


Need technical help with any of these? Just give me call or send an email.


Words of Wisdom
#27 Emergency Card

Youth Gathering emergency cardHere is a very good idea from Robin Souhrada, director of Faith Formation at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, that you may want to have for your group. She creates a laminated card about the size of a business card for everyone in her group with cell phone numbers, contact information for the hotel, the gathering, and me.  Attached please see template and below please see her comments.

Emergency Card PDF

Do you have a great idea to share? Please send it to Pastor Mark Anderson


Words of Wisdom
#26 Videos & Newsletters

I suggest you view and share the new videos posted on this web page: “Proclaim Justice Day” and “Hotel Etiquette” with Pastor Obvious.

Also, if you haven’t read the June issue of the Gathering’s gNews, you missed some important information. Check it out at this link: gNews.


Words of Wisdom
Garcia Studio, Inc.933 Fielder Avenue NWAtlanta, GA 30318404-892-2334#25 Box Lunches and More…

Did you see the great offers from our friends at Old Lutheran? You may want to especially consider the Bus Load Box Lunch option… click for the whole story.



Words of Wisdom
#24 Final Confirmation Information

Before you begin the journey to Detroit for the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering, Rise Up Together, please read through this final confirmation information. It contains important details about your group’s time at the Gathering. 

Read More
  • Gathering check-in hours are between 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, and continue on Wednesday, July 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Check-in occurs with Community Life volunteers at your congregation’s hotel property. Gathering wristbands, bibles, and adult leader guidebooks will be distributed during this process. Please allow adequate time for your group to check-in.
  • In addition to the items listed on the packing list, you will also need to bring the emergency medical and liability release forms for both youth and adults. The Gathering does not collect this information, but you must have it in order to participate in the Proclaim Justice experience.
  • Don’t forget your congregation’s group covenant! Plan to review it together before and during the Gathering.
  • Please make sure the cell phone number listed under your congregation’s primary leader is up to date. We suggest making copies of all documents and leaving a set with your church.


See you in Detroit!


Words of Wisdom
#23 Youth Gathering News Release

Here is the official Youth Gathering news release. It might be helpful to you in suggesting language for newsletter articles, etc.

ELCA Youth Gathering brings thousands to Detroit

CHICAGO (ELCA) – In affirmation of their baptismal promise to “serve others and follow the example of Jesus,” almost 30,000 youth, adult leaders and others from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will participate in the ELCA Youth Gathering July 15-19 in Detroit. Meeting under the theme “Rise Up Together,” the Gathering will offer youth an opportunity to strengthen their faith and discover their call to serve the world – at home and abroad. 

Read More

Heidi Hagstrom, Youth Gathering program director, said the baptismal promise “means we share in another’s experience of suffering. It means understanding life in terms of giving rather than taking, self-sacrifice rather than self-protection.”

The ELCA Youth Gathering is a triennial event that brings together thousands of high-school age Lutherans from the across the country and overseas for faith formation, worship, fellowship and service. Hagstrom said the Gathering theme and program is based on the Gospel of Mark.

“When studying the Gospel of Mark we recognized the recurring theme of death and resurrection,” she said. “That promise of life from death is something we know teenagers are familiar with, whether they use those words or not, and it also is the metastory of Detroit, a city that has risen from the ashes, literally and figuratively, many times throughout its history. By adding the word ‘together’ to the theme – Rise Up Together – we are making a statement about our church’s preference for the posture of accompaniment, which is the way we are in mission in the world.”

Speakers during the event include the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop; the Rev. Luke A. Powery, dean of Duke University Chapel and associate professor of the practice of homiletics at Duke Divinity School, Durham, N.C.; the Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, an ELCA pastor and national leader in areas of poverty and immigration; and the Rev. Rani Abdulmasih, pastor of Mother of the Savior Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Mich., the largest Arabic-English Lutheran church in the United States and the only one in Michigan.

During the event youth will participate in service learning opportunities throughout Detroit.

“This July we invite Gathering participants to engage in Detroit’s unique story of tenacity and hopefulness,” said Lisa Jeffreys, Youth Gathering program coordinator. “We will join in partnerships of accompaniment all across the city, allowing Gathering participants to see God at work through transformative experiences. And last but not least, we seek to empower participants to return home seeing themselves as agents of change in their own communities and in the world in life-giving ways.”

Hagstrom said the event will also help the youth better understand their connection to a “global communion of Lutherans.”

“Many young people have limited experience with what it means to be part of the Lutheran Christian witness in the world. Many don’t experience other Lutherans outside of their family or congregation. With such a small circle of influence, most young people think that the way they worship in their congregation or the values their congregation espouses is the way all Lutherans practice or express their faith. The beauty of Christ’s church is that there is room for all under the tent of mercy made real through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We need the witness of young people in that community of Christ’s church,” Hagstrom said.

Preceding the ELCA Youth Gathering is the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the Definitely Abled Leadership Event (DAYLE), both to be held July 12-15 in Detroit.

DAYLE is designed to bless and empower gifted young people with a range of physical, cognitive and emotional differences so they might grow as faithful, wise and courageous witnesses. MYLE exists to empower young people of color and those whose primary language is other than English to claim their story as part of God’s story. 


Words of Wisdom
#22 Gardens, Prairies and Discounts

My first encounter with Detroit was to see the amazing urban gardens developed on vacant lots in that city. We later duplicated these gardens in Waverly on lots made vacant by the 2008 flood. If you are not yet familiar with Detroit’s urban gardening, please read this interesting article http://visitdetroit.com/features/198-green-detroit  on DETROIT’S GREENER SIDE | URBAN FARMING AND AGRICULTURE, or ask me or the Synod’s Hunger Network Facilitator, Alison Northrop about it.

Speaking of gardens, if you are looking for a place to eat, consider COLORS, a restaurant which strengthens the city from the grassroots by providing local, ethical, and delicious food.

Read More
 COLORS-Detroit is currently only open for lunch and special events. Lunch hours: 11-3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. They provide job training to unemployed community residents to equip them with the life skills, job training, and work experience they need to pursue careers in the hospitality and food service industry. Through the course of 10 weeks, student servers are taught the importance and art of great customer service through an introduction to serving and bartending.  http://www.colors-restaurants.com/detroit.

Are people still telling you Detroit is too dangerous to visit? Last week, American Public Media’s “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor broadcast live from  313’s grand old picture palace, the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. The National Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble was featured, directed by Michael Ibrahim and featuring singers Usama Baalbaki and Ghada Derbas. You can hear the episode at http://prairiehome.org, but I especially suggest you play for your youth the song “My Girl – Detroit,” “Detroit Notes” and “GK talks more about Detroit” at http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/listen/?date=2015/05/30.

There is a Detroit discount card available. Offer is valid only at participating attraction(s)/museum(s). Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts or coupons. Must present barcode at time of purchase. May not be reproduced. No cash value. No change given. Offer is nontransferable. Offer valid 1/1/15 – 12/31/15.


Words of Wisdom
#21 Cell Phone Advice to Avoid International Charges

Many cell phones reach out to the nearest tower to make cell phone calls. From downtown Detroit, the nearest cell phone tower is often in Canada. This means that to use your cell phone service provider, you may very well be standing firmly in the heart of industrial USA, but still your phone is making an international call.

How do you prevent this?

Here’s the how-to for iOS:

And a video for Android:


Words of Wisdom

#20 Another Look at What to Pack

With the Gathering date getting closer, your youth and adults might well be thinking about packing and wondering what to take. If you have not already, and most of you have, send your participants the link to this superbly made video staring our very own Coco Lyons and Rachel “Socks” Lynch.


You can also review my earlier post about what to bring.

Speaking of packing, did you know that of youth from the Northeastern Iowa Synod,

  • 24 have registered for the Synod Assembly at Wartburg College, June 12-14.
  • 22 have registered for WIYLDE also at Wartburg College, June 14-17.


2015 is a great year for youth doing ministry in the Northeastern Iowa Synod!


Words of Wisdom

#19 Support Detroit Neighborhood Revitalization

Proclaim Justice projects at the Gathering are in need additional support. Please share the following information with primary leaders, congregations, synod assembly and any group who might want to offer support. You can share the following information:

Living on a block with an abandoned home or two is common for Detroiters, and the city has precious few resources for dealing with such a widespread problem. Neighborhood blight is a health and safety risk to residents, attracts crime, and depresses property values. This summer, during the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering, youth will participate in Detroit’s neighborhood revitalization efforts by boarding up abandoned properties, making neighborhoods safer and healthier for the residents who remain.

While youth will provide the labor, we are in desperate need of supplies. If you know of a building supply company that could donate 4 X 8 OSB boards, please contact Lisa.Jeffrey@elca.org. You can also donate toward the purchase of supplies by going to www.elca.org/Gathering .


Words of Wisdom

#18 Preparing our Mindset Moment

Let’s move our mindset from “What’s in it for me?” to ” What can I offer?”

Everyone is working hard to prepare for the Gathering. People of all ages are investing their time and money for themselves or someone else to be part of the Gathering experience. Sometimes, that can lead to a focus on “What’s in it for me?” It’s understandable. What if we thought more about, “What can I offer?” and not in terms of ‘doing for or unto others, but “how we are” during the Gathering experience.

What if our, “What can I offer?” is more about a non-anxious presence who enters the experience completely open, who is interested in someone else’s thoughts and needs, who is a sharer and listener, who includes someone on the outside, who waits their turn, who allows someone else to go first, who engages intentionally in ways that mutual discovery and growth occurs.


Words of Wisdom

#17 Proclaim Community


1.  Watch our video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Uw5ZbnvWQw.

2.  Groups will have a dedicated day to participate in Proclaim Community and can experience Proclaim Community any day, before or after Proclaim Justice and Proclaim Story, during our open hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3.  Journey to the Cross: The Proclaim Community space is designed with the cross in the middle of all our activities. As you journey toward the cross at the center, explore the many and various ways the ELCA is proclaiming community all across the world.

Read More
Then, take a break at one of four parks where you can relax, charge your cell phone and play games. You can dive into the Gospel story, along with a piece of Detroit’s story, and ponder questions such as: How do we forgive and reconcile with one another? What is our community hungry for and how do we help bring that to the community? How to recognize and break the chains that bind us? Can we carry our burdens together as sisters and brothers in Christ? Find out what Detroit can teach us and make sure you collect all six Proclaim Community buttons.

4.  Classics are back: huge sports area, high ropes course, mini golf sponsored by the seminaries, bumper cars sponsored by the colleges and universities, congregation photo sponsored by Mission Investment Fund, framing four houses with Campus Ministry, expanded tinkletown is now disABLIcity, talent stages and inflatables.

5.  Wear closed toed shoes, drink lots of water (especially if you are giving blood), and bring your gathering Bible so you can design the cover with your story in the Creative Expressions area.

6.  Grow your hair out to donate to Children With Hair Loss. This organization gives free quality wigs to children who have medically related hair loss and who may be financially challenged. Hair should be at least eight inches in length. Hair must be clean and dry, pony-tailed and/or braided. Non-chemically treated hair is preferred (but any hair in good condition will be accepted). Gray hair is accepted.

7.  Donate blood. Blood donors must: be in good general health and feeling well, be at least 16-years-old and weigh at least 110 lbs. Get an appointment now at www.redcrossblood.org and search for elcayouthdetroit in the “find a drive” box on the top right . 16-year-olds must have a parental consent form signed and dated.

8.  Proclaim Community in quieter ways in the hallway of the atrium in Cobo. Here you will find the labyrinth, prayer rooms, yoga, and the adult leaders café sponsored by the Women of the ELCA.




Words of Wisdom
#16 Look for the Giant Ferris Wheel

Uniroyal tire2On the front page of last night’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, of all places, was an article reminding us that this is the 50th year of “the gigantic Ferris-wheel-sized tire” that you will drive past on the south side of I-94. The tire is in Allen Park, MI and stands eight stories high.

The tire started as a Ferris-wheel at the 1964  New York World’s Fair with 24 barrel-shaped gondolas which could hold four people each. At the fair it gave 25 cent rise to more than two million people. After the fair it was shipped to by train in 188 sections to Allen Park and reassembled to welcome people to Detroit.


Words of Wisdom
#16 Words Mean Something

I don’t believe in synonyms.

I was taught that synonyms are two words that mean the same thing like “car” and “automobile.” But I think that our English language, with its vocabulary derived from so many other places, times, and tongues, is so nuanced that no two words could possibly have exactly the same meaning. For example, some would say that “girl” and “young lady” and “chick” and “lassie” and “female adolescent” are all synonyms, but each has a very different meaning and would only be appropriate in very different circumstances. To drive the point home, if I call someone a “woman” or a “chick” I am saying something very different about both her and me.

Read More

Sunday afternoon I attended the Penumbra Theatre in Saint Paul with my daughter, Michelle, to see the play “Detroit ‘67” by Dominique Morisseau. The play takes place in the basement of an African American family’s home during the latter half of July 1967 during the “12th Street Riots.” The play challenges the common narrative that the riot was started by local partiers who challenged police authority, and presents the “riot” as an “uprising” against years of injustice, police brutality, corruption, and the disproportion of people in color serving and killed in the war. The disturbance resulted in 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. This play was written in 2013 about events in 1967, but it could have just as easily been written today about events during the last two months.

For me, the take away from the play was the myth of synonyms. Here are some words that are considered “synonyms” but clearly do not mean the same thing; in fact, they are as different as “chick” and “woman.”

Riot vs. uprising
Thugs vs. protestors
Necessary force vs. brutality
Jailed vs. detained
Black vs. African American
Welfare mothers vs. unemployed parents
Illegals vs. undocumented immigrants
Poor vs. people in need
Them, those people, people like that vs. God’s children

Which words we use and how we talk about the people of Detroit and the events in Detroit’s history, will inform, and even determine, how our youth think about them. So, in Bible study and in casual conversation, let’s choose our words carefully in favor of not just inclusiveness, but in recognition that what we “know” about Detroit and about race may not be what those who live there “know” about race and about their city.

In preparation for the Gathering, I encourage you to get more acquainted with the issues of July 1967:



Words of Wisdom

#15 Food and Program

We have just learned that the gathering place for our synod’s “Proclaim Story” Day will be in the Cobo Center.

“Community Life” are the many and various programmatic actives offered, starting as early as 8 a.m. and offered all day at COBO, Hart Plaza, the Crown Plaza Hotel, and the Marriott at the GM RenCen, creating a hub of downtown activity throughout the day, COBO will feature the Good Morning Detroit live stage, where participants can see the show live, or they can visit Michigan Hall 1, where morning worship with Holy Communion will begin at 8:15 a.m. and 9:15 a.m.. Live music stages will begin at all COBO entrances, including stages where participants can share their musical gifts. Prayer rooms, the labyrinth, the chapel and other venues will open, as will the Old Lutheran store that has been placed outside the interactive learning space for the first-time ever in Gathering history. There will be play spaces, worship spaces, and places to eat.

Read More

Did you see these helpful items in the last issue of the G-News?

Wondering what you’ll eat in Detroit?
The Gathering Operations team is working to ensure that a variety of affordable food options are available during the Gathering. There will be food courts available in Cobo Center, the site of our Proclaim Community and Proclaim Story days; food trucks at Hart Plaza, the launch site for Proclaim Justice; and food concessions at Ford Field, the site of our evening mass gatherings. (Please note: The Ford Field concessions will be open from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. but will close at 7:30 p.m., even if there are people in line, so please plan accordingly.)

Also, the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau will be offering its “Show It and Save” discount program, where Gathering participants will be able to show their wristbands and access a variety of food and beverage discounts. To learn more, go to: Show It and Save restaurant discount program.

Stay tuned to gNews and Gathering social media for more information about food options.

Proclaim Community: Learn more about our holy playground
Proclaim Community is the interactive learning component of the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering. Zip lines, blood donation stations, a creative expression area and more are a part of an interactive space for Gathering participants to try new things. The community will have loud and vivacious spaces and more peaceful and prayerful spaces. You will have a whole day set aside to explore Proclaim Community, and you can also access it in your free time on other program days. The exhibit hall is the size of 11 football fields! Our Proclaim Community team wanted you to know more, so team members made a video to share. Check out the video to learn more.


Words of Wisdom
#14 The Hotel

Here are some things you need to know about your hotel:

When you arrive in the Detroit area, go to your hotel — not to the Cobo center. At the hotel you will “check-in” both to the hotel and then with the Gathering and receive wristbands, guidebooks for the adult leaders, and Bibles (minis 6” x 4”), and this is the time and place to donate any in-kind offerings, like diapers you brought with you. No money or checks will exchange hands! If a congregation has a balance, they will receive a covenant to sign that they will bring to COBO Convention Center the next day to pay their bill.

Read More

All congregations should be paid in full well in advance of check-in. If your account is paid by May 15, you will receive your Gathering T-Shirt in the mail shortly before the event. If you are not paid in full your group will have to purchase T-Shirts at the Gathering.

Please make sure you have sent your rooming lists to your assigned hotel, along with the deposits. It’s also time to print your “balance due letter” and mail it with full payment to the Gathering lock box in St. Louis. All payments are due May 15. Any adjustments to your group must be made by May 15, as well. If your payment isn’t received by May 15, your “Proclaim Justice” T-shirt order will not be processed, and you will have to purchase the T-shirts on your own when you arrive in Detroit.

The mass gatherings at Ford Field begin at 7 p.m., with the main program beginning at 7:30 p.m. The mass event will conclude by 9:30 p.m., and Ford Field will be cleared.

Congregations living in downtown (only 10 percent) will walk home to hotels or maybe grab some food at a local restaurant. Congregations that have driven their own vehicles from their hotels that morning to COBO Convention Center will walk back to COBO for the commute to their hotels. The congregations that commuted from their hotel to COBO or their Proclaim Justice launch by Gathering-provided buses, will walk to a parking lot along the river, near the GM RenCen, where they will board their bus for the commute back to their hotel.

Participants will arrive in hotels between 10:00-11:30 p.m., depending upon the location of their property and their choice of transportation. Most will likely be in their properties by 11 p.m., but the reality is that this mass movement of participants precludes traditional evening programming in properties.

Words of Wisdom

#13 Royal Tailor, Books, Stereotypes, FAQs & More

Reminder: All payments are due and registration closes May 15, 2015.

ELCA Books for Detroit: Help the Gathering raise the additional $70,000 for books by giving your gift via our website or via the Gathering Royal TailorApp.

Ford Field: Royal Tailor will perform at Ford Field on opening night. www.royaltailor.com/ @royaltailor www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgkzlu-FaMU

Press: You should read this article about 11 Stereotypes Detroiters are Tired of Hearing.

Detroit gardenProclaim Justice: There are now more than 500 projects in and around Detroit. One example is working in urban gardens like this one. Speaking of volunteering when asked if anyone would help serve communion or be in a mass cast, 11,000 participants responded!

Fund-raiser Idea: Faith Lutheran in Shell Rock has worked out a fundraiser with Texas Roadhouse in Cedar Falls. By presenting a bulletin insert 10% of the total food purchased goes to the youth group.

18 FAQs:

1) Can people take water into Ford Field (open water bottles)

Yes, Water bottles are allowed.

2) What about variety of food carts/vendors outside Cobo with food options for those with dietary restrictions? Will there be some food options for those special needs besides restaurants?

There will be many food options. The Gathering planners have done their best to encourage a variety of vendors. However, this does not guarantee that every dietary need will be met. People who are concerned should plan accordingly to take care of their needs. They can do some research of their own for restaurants downtown that may have the options they need.

Read More

3) How are groups able to indicate dietary restrictions for the proclaim justice day?

Dietary needs should have been captured in the initial registration information under “special needs”. We have already accounted for them and are providing a gluten free/vegetarian wrap as a second option. In other words, whether you’re gluten free or vegetarian you will receive the one alternative meal. If that doesn’t meet the dietary restriction, they will need to bring their own lunch. There will be an explanation of this on the Guidebook app and in the Guidebook.

4) Will there be a designated quiet area at Ford Field for those with hypersensitive issues?

There will be a quiet(ER) area designated within Ford Field. It’s a bit more open than a dome, as you may have noticed, so reducing volume altogether isn’t quite possible. It is also safe to say that the area will not be ‘staffed.’ That means any youth who may need to use it should be accompanied by their own adult.

5) When our buses arrive in Detroit early Wednesday morning are there any transportation options for them to get to COBO or Ford Field for the evening and back to the hotel after?

Shuttles begin running at 10 a.m. – an exact schedule will be published closer to the event. Please make sure your congregations select that they will be using gathering transportation.

6) Will buses take groups back to their hotel following Sunday worship? OR should groups plan to bring their luggage with them, store it at Ford Field and have their transportation pick them up from Ford Field following worship?

Our preferred plan would be that their transportation would pick them up with their bags at their hotel (they’d load up at that point) bring them downtown for worship and their transportation would ‘stage’ in a parking lot or street parking areas.

7) How should we handle any monetary donations to be used for the purchase of diapers from the congregation(s)?

The collection of diapers (and nonperishable food) will happen at hotel properties with signage and info shared by the Community Life hosts at each property. Participants will be instructed to leave diapers at designated locations in lobbies by Thursday am. On Friday busloads of participants will be picking up diapers at properties and delivering them to Starfish Family Services who is managing our distribution.

If people are sending checks for the diaper drive, they should send them to ELCA, PO Box 71256, Chicago IL 60694-1256. It is critically important that they put “diapers” in the memo line. If they don’t, their contribution will be directed into other Gathering accounts.

8) Where can diapers be purchased local to Detroit?

Pick up diapers and other supplies at:
Meijer (in the City of Detroit- NW side)
1301 Eight Mile Rd
Detroit, MI 48203

They could also stop if they are coming from the airport or traveling down I-94 west to east:
3565 Fairlane Blvd
Allen Park, MI 48101

Or if coming up I-75 from east or south:
3710 Dix Hwy
Lincoln Park, MI 48146

Another option is Costco on the north east edge of Detroit in Roseville:
27118 Gratiot Ave
Roseville, MI 48066

9) Does the Gathering Transportation include Wed. night? Is it easier if we go with our Synod buses for the duration of the Gathering?

Yes, there is transportation on Wednesday night. It is up to each group whether to use their own transportation for the duration of the Gathering. Do what you indicated on your group registration form. You can’t sign up to use the Gathering transportation and use it only when you want. It may be easier to use your own transportation. It is truly up to each group.

10) Will there be a waiver that parents need to sign for the ELCA Youth Gathering?It is on the resources page! Give it to the Primary Leader.

We will never collect it.

11) Will Community Life volunteers be staffed 24 hours a day, and will they have access to transportation? (the question was raised in terms of a medical need that is urgent but not emergent… will there be a way to help get that person to care or does the group call a taxi? etc)

Yes, Community Life will be staffed 24 hours at the hotel. No they will not have transportation. They would need to call a taxi or 911 if it’s a true emergency. The hotel can assist.

12) The transportation information indicates that those staying until the 20th (or later) will have transportation back to their hotel, but it says “immediately” after worship on the 19th. This seems to imply that that might be the only opportunity for transport back to hotels on the final day. It was brought up that people staying longer are doing so to see the city and that immediate shuttle back to the hotel is not actually all that helpful. Thoughts on this?

We are only taking folks back to their hotel immediately after worship. If they stay downtown that afternoon, they need to secure their own transportation.

13) Will the Concessions at Ford Field be “Stadium Prices”?


14) Question about Old Lutheran’s booth at the Cobo center, all in attendance remembered the line being horrifically long… has any thought/planning happened around streamlining it?

Lines at The Old Lutheran Store were long two cycles ago. Now, the lines are different as checking out is very streamlined. Store staff carry mobile check-out devices making check-out faster and more efficient. Lines for cash only payment also make for faster checkout. The Store will be in Cobo and opens on Wednesday.

15) We’ve been told that “walking routes will be published” and a list of established food vendors will be made available. How should we expect to receive that info?

There will be paper maps given out at the Gathering with walking routes and meal options. The CVB microsite (currently linked to from our website) has meal options listed now.

16) Will the Concessions at Ford Field be “Stadium Prices”?


17) We’ve been told that “walking routes will be published” and a list of established food vendors will be made available. Will that be through the gNews? How should we expect to receive that info?

There will be paper maps given out at the Gathering with walking routes and meal options. The CVB microsite (currently linked to from our website) has meal options listed now.

18) Regarding Tax Exempt status: People have been asking how to do this?

Groups can solve this for their situation. Every congregation should have a tax exempt number. If they don’t know it, they need to go to their financial person. This is not something the Gathering Office is able to help with. Go to www.michigan.gov/taxes for information. Congregations (assuming they are covered by the ELCA’s group ruling exemption or have their own exemption) may be exempt from sales tax in Michigan if they fill out and sign the following form: www.michigan.gov/documents/taxes/3372_216612_7.pdf. Churches are not required to prove their 501c3 status to receive an exemption from sales tax. Primary Leaders will need to call their hotel to find out what other taxes will be applied to hotel bills if they are concerned.

Gathering Links:
Schedule: http://elca.org/YouthGathering/GatheringDetails/DailyPrograms
gNews: http://www.elca.org/Resources/ELCA-Youth-Gathering
Getting Ready Lessons: http://www.elca.org/Resources/ELCA-Youth-Gathering

Gathering APP


Words of Wisdom
#12 Our Impact on Detroit and Where to Find Food

News Flash @RoyalTailor will perform at Ford Field on opening night!

Ms. Kelsey Richert works with Youth & Family Ministry at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waverly. Read about her recent encounter…

Read More

As we have been planning for our gathering experience here at Redeemer in Waverly, we decided that it would be nice to have a sit down meal during our trip. As both myself, and the lovely mother who has been heading up the trip, are plan ahead people we called the hard rock in downtown Detroit to set up a reservation. Due to the long distance and the number of people that we are bringing I have had the privilege of talking to Mary the GM many times. As I was getting to know Mary she made a comment that I thought would be great to share with the group. She said that everyone is so excited for us to come and that they can already see the effects. Since 40,000 people are coming this has caused many places to already hire more staff so that they can be fully trained before we get there. They want nothing more than to show us how amazing their city is and that it is not a place we should be sacred of but a place that we should see as rising up!! This is just shows how powerful a group who is moving for Christ can be; we have not even got to the city yet and the people are already feeling the effects of us. Mind blowing !!

On the topic of where to find food here are some important tips

  • There are plenty of lunch places downtown, you will want to explore Greek town and look for the famous Detroit version of the Coney Dog
  • The Gathering will create food venues using local food trucks, live music, picnic style in the area between Cobo and the Crown Plaza
  • There will be a food court in the Cobo Center
  • In the Evening Ford Field Venders will be open
  • In the Renascence Center until 7:00pm the food court will be open.


You can also try these restaurant resources:

Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g42139-Detroit_Michigan.html

Eater: http://detroit.eater.com/maps/the-38-essential-detroit-restaurants-january-2015

Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/c/detroit/restaurants

Urban Spoon: http://www.urbanspoon.com/n/19/1816/Detroit/Downtown-Detroit-restaurants
Now a Word about a restaurant called “Hooters”

It often happens that when youth are traveling there will some in the group who will beg to be taken to a “Hooters” and they may mention the great buffalo wings served there. In truth, Hooters is known a great less for their wings and a great deal more for the skimpy uniforms the female wait staff are required to wear. Here is a hint, “hooters” does not refer to the sound an owl makes. If you are in doubt check out the Hooters web site at www.hooters.com and pay attention to section on “hooters girls” and “swimsuit pageant.” Some youth may be anxious to get to a Hooters and to buy a T-Shirt to prove they have been there. However, please let me discourage you in the strongest way from taking youth to a “hooters.” Please consider what this teaches our youth about the value of women and about how girls should feel about their own bodies. Let us also consider how the girls on the trip will feel if they are dragged into to place so the boys can ogle and discuss the wait staff.


Words of Wisdom
#11 Concert in the Country

By now you must have heard that Rachel Kurtz will be in our synod in a sew days. This will be a great event to hear and meet one of the main Youth Gathering performers. Here are all the details:

Rachel poster 2015crRachel Kurtz Concert in the Country
April 29, 2015
5:30 p.m. – Food & beverages for sale
6:30 p.m. — Rachel Kurtz Concert
Rock Creek Lutheran, Osage Iowa

The public is invited to a “Concert in the Country” featuring singer/songwriter Rachel Kurtz, who has performed at the last three ELCA Youth Gatherings and around the world. A $5 freewill donation is suggested. Hot dogs, hamburgers, walking tacos, chips and beverages will be for sale prior to the concert, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

This event is co-sponsored by the Northeastern Iowa Synod, Cross Roads Lutheran Parish, and Thrivent.
Download Poster

Read More

The speakers and musicians for the Gathering have been announced. If you didn’t see that email a list and description is available at http://www.elca.org/YouthGathering/GatheringDetails/SpeakersMusicians

Want a FREE Haircut at the Youth Gathering?

carPictured are the youth from Saint Paul Lutheran Church in Hampton Iowa getting ready for the Gathering by checking out a classic American car. Please send me picutres of your group getting ready and I’ll share then in future letters.


Words of Wisdom
#10 Visit Detroit Website

Our Friends at VisitDetroit.com have developed a special Visit Detroit ELCA Youth Gathering Web Site. What are you going to find there? You are going to find exactly what you want — information, discounts, a welcome ELCA video, and more, so check out http://www.visitdetroit.com/elca2015.

Words of Wisdom
#9 Car Parts

James R. Hagerty and Jeff Bennett offered a very interesting article, “Wages Drop As Foreign Parts Invade American Cars” on the front page of last night’s (Tuesday, March 24, 2015) Wall Street Journal. The good news is that production of American-made cars is near an all-time high because of both domestic and export sales. But if the production of American-made cars is up, why isn’t Detroit, where these cars are made, doing just as well?

Read More

The bad news is that “American-made” cars are not as “American-made” as they used to be. We imported $138 Billion in car parts last year or about $12,135 of each car is made of parts mostly from Mexico and China. For example, the “American-made” Ford Explorer was 90 percent American made in 1990, but by 2010 the Explorer has only 65 percent American-made parts and the Ford Escape only 55 percent. So, all those factories in the Detroit area that supplied parts to the big three auto manufacturers are still closed and their workers still unemployed. As an example, the Detroit-based American Axel company makes its American Axels in Mexico, China, Brazil, Poland, India, and the U.K. The vehicles are still assembled in and near Detroit, but with robotics it takes far fewer workers to assembly a vehicle than it used to.

I think this is another example of how the problems in Detroit are complex and global.


Words of Wisdom
#8 Liturgy of Installation

One sure way to help the congregation to be aware of, and feel a part of, the youth group’s pilgrimage to the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering is to have a liturgy of installation on the Sunday before you leave (July 12, the 7th Sunday after Pentecost). Of course you may use any liturgy you want, but the liturgy below is pretty good.

Installation of Gathering Participants

As the bus is about to leave, you may also offer a blessing of the bus: In the old LBW’s Occasional Service Book on page 238 there is:

Read More

Lord God our Father, you kept Abraham and Sarah in safety through the days of their pilgrimage, you led the children of Israel through the midst of the sea, and by a star you led the Wise Men to the infant Jesus. Protect and guide us now in the time as we set out to travel, make our ways safe and our homecomings joyful, and bring us at last to our heavenly home, where you dwell in glory with your Son and the Holy Spirit, God forever. Another prayer I found: A Franciscan Travel Blessing May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. (Source unknown)

The Greek Orthodox offer this Vehicle Blessing

Priest: O Master, Lord our God, hearken unto the prayer which we now send up to You, and bless this vehicle with Your holy right hand (+); send down upon it Thy guardian Angel, that all who desire to journey therein may be safely preserved and shielded from every evil end; and as the Ethiopian, riding in the chariot and reading of Your holy prophecy, was granted faith and Grace through Your Apostle Philip. So do You now manifest the path of salvation to Your servants who shall travel in this conveyance, that with Your helping grace they may be clothed upon with good works and after the completion of this life may be vouchsafed’ everlasting joy in Your heavenly Kingdom. For Yours is the might, and the Kingdom,and the power, and unto You do we send up glory to Father, and to Son, and to Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

If you have or write a better “blessing of the bus” please share it with me.


Words of Wisdom
#7 What to Bring

Few youth and adults have ever been to a youth gathering so there will be some questions about what is appropriate to wear and what to bring. Download the official ELCA Youth Gathering Packing List.

A far more interesting way to get the same information is the video we made at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja0eulQEgVA

At the orientation sessions I also included “Mark’s Packing List For Adults” this includes:

Read More

What to Bring Each adult should carry with all the time:

1) Cell phone with external rechargeable battery programmed with your group’s phone numbers and photos
2) Small first aid kit (boo-boo kit)
3) Pen/pencil
4) Bandana map (which you won at the orientation)
5) Water bottle
6) Cash
7) Copies of the health forms
8) Your best attitude


Each congregation should bring:

1) Diapers to donate to local food shelves
2) Pliers, knife or Leatherman type tool for minor repairs
3) Substantial first-aid kit
4) Duct Tape
5) Health Forms
6) S.A.F.E policy


Words of Wisdom
#6 What can I do with my cell phone?

Almost everyone at the Youth Gathering will be carrying a cell phone. Cell phones can be programmed to retain phone numbers for quick phoning or texting (also known as an sms). Some phones even provide for “group texting,” which allows you to text many people at once. If your phone will not do this, there are many applications (apps) that will.

I suggest that you program (or have a youth program) your cell phone this week with these phone numbers:

Read More

1) The Gathering information line 888-411-3522. You can use this number to get an answer to virtually any question and to get help in almost any situation.

2) Pastor Mark Anderson’s personal cell phone number. You may call or text me to ask synod-specific questions or get advice, if you need assistance, or want to meet up for a Bible study or a meal. Send an email to request the number.

3) The phone number of your bus company and the bus driver’s personal phone.

5) The cell phone numbers of the youth and other adults in your group so that you can text them reminders or phone them if necessary.

6) The phone number of your hotel. Of course, you will want the youth to program your phone number into their phones in case they need to contact you.

I suggest that you include in your covenant that each participant is responsible for making sure their phone in on and charged when they are away from the hotel. Of course, it is important you keep your phone charged as well. You may wish to acquire an external USB rechargeable battery, which are available at all stores that sell electronics and even at some convenience stores. They cost $10 – $25. I normally carry two. If you need help with this, contact me.

I strongly encourage you to make sure that every youth and adult download or activate the “find my phone” application. This will allow you to find a lost cell phone. Yes, some youth in your group will lose their phone, probably one a day and yes, probably the same kid every day. If you need help with this contact me.

On our last trip to Detroit several folks had trouble with their cell phone providers because the phones were using the cell towers in Canada. You may wish to contact your provider before you leave and let them know you do not wish to incur international charges.

Smart phones can also connect with Twitter. You can “follow” the Gathering at @elcagathering. Why is this important? When there is information to get from the gathering to groups (like “there is a thunderstorm coming”), it will come first and fastest via this twitter account. But don’t forget Facebook and Instagram as well.


Words of Wisdom
#5 Travel Guide for Adult Leaders

Here are some tips for how to be an adult leader:

Read More
    • Remember, your every word and action is to be a model of Christian living
    • Know the congregation’s covenant and enforce it.
    • Review the daily schedule of events.
    • Get to know each student. Have fun with them.
    • Do a visual head count, making sure your students are accounted for each time the group gathers.
    • Monitor the health and behavior of all students and report any problem or illness to the leader.
    • If a student remains at the hotel, it is imperative for their safety and welfare, an adult remains with the student. This means missing the day’s activities.
    • Be available.
      • Share your cell phone number and have everyone else’s available to you
    • Encourage appropriate student behaviors such as:
      • Low conversational volume, especially in public areas and after hours.
      • Guys/ girls mingle in public areas, not student rooms.
      • Be respectful of all hotel staff and guests.
      • Remain in assigned room after curfew.
      • Close the room doors gently.
      • Remain quiet in rooms after lights out.
      • Be on time; make a plan for rising and getting ready for the next day.
    • Be prepared as a chaperone to:
      • Quiet excessive noise at all times, especially in hotel and/or on the bus.
      • Make sure all your assigned students are up in the morning.
      • Check into abnormal actions.
      • Perform visual room checks at curfew time to ensure students are in their assigned rooms.
    • Keep your eyes open for personal property being forgotten in the rush of activities. It is very hard to recover items after the fact. (Do a visual “sweep” prior to departing bathrooms, fast food places or restaurants, changing rooms at performance sites, planes, trains and buses).
    • Be sure there are adults in each small group when divided at sightseeing events or attraction tours.
    • Willingly carry out any task assigned by the leader. (i.e. storing students’ medications, keeping student’s medical records, or round the clock hall monitoring, etc.)
    • Your job as a adult leader is critical for a successful trip. Thank you for your time, effort and support.


Words of Wisdom
#4 Gathering Workshops

Deb Ford and I will be holding two identical workshops for people attending the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering. Parents, pastors and adult leaders are encouraged to attend.

What will be covered?

Read More
      • Gathering Overview
      • Community Life (a.k.a. night life)
      • Transportation in the City
      • The daily schedule
      • Synod Day
      • Mission Day
      • Safety & Security
      • Who will be speakers and bands
      • Social Media
      • A bunch of other stuff
      • Your Questions
      • A chance to meet the other adults you will be interacting with at the Gathering.


Who should attend?

      • Adults who have never led before REALLY SHOULD ATTEND
      • Adults who have led before but this is a whole new gathering in a new city so you SHOULD ATTEND
      • Adults not attending but want to know more like pastors, parents, etc are all INVITED to attend
      • Youth would never be turned away but the presentation will be designed for adults


The first 25 people to register for each workshop will receive a very nice door prize (no, really it is very nice)

The identical sessions will be held at 4 – 6 p.m.

Sunday, March 8 at the Hanson Spirituality Center at Bremwood in Waverly, Iowa
Sunday, March 15 at Decorah Lutheran Church, Decorah, Iowa

Please feel free to share these tips with adults attending the Gathering, youth attending the Gathering, parents of youth attending the Gathering and any other interested persons.


Words of Wisdom
#3 Sharing through Social Media

What’s with these kids these days!?! It seems that anytime you see a teenager, so you see an electronic device in their hands. This, of course is almost always a cell phone or smart phone. So, the youth and their families will be grateful to you if you share with them that the 2015 LCA Youth Gathering already has an active social media presence. The youth can already start conversing with youth from around the country and around the world who will be attending the gathering. Families and fellow congregation members will be able to keep up with the events at the gathering in real time.

Read More

FACEBOOK — the Gathering has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/youthgathering. By the way, the Northeastern Iowa Synod also has a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/neiasynod, please visit and “like” us.

Twitter — twitter is catching on among high school kids in Iowa. The kids who have twitter accounts should follow @elcagathering or you can visit here. When mentioning the Gathering in a tweet the user should use the hash tag #RiseUpELCA. By the way, the Northeastern Iowa Synod has a Twitter account too, come follow us at @NEIowaSynodELCA.

Instagram — This platform has become the tool of choice for many youth. Of course the Gathering is on Instagram you can follow it by clicking here. You can follow the Northeastern Iowa Synod on Instagram by clicking here.

(Interesting aside: There will be a team of adults creating and monitoring content on the social media sites during the gathering. I will be on that team working on a computer in some secure undisclosed location.)

Important Question:
How can your youth group stay in contact with the congregation back home? Can the youth start a blog? Could the youth send emails to be posted on the congregation’s web site? Could the youth make a daily video and post it on you tube? The parents and the other donors who made the trip possible would be eager to hear from the youth and especially about what they are learning.

Please feel free to share these tips with adults attending the Gathering, youth attending the Gathering, parents of youth attending the Gathering and any other interested persons.


Words of Wisdom
#2 Getting Ready with a Covenant

Every Youth group attending the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering and the congregation who is sending them should enter into a Covenant. How do you write a Covenant? Here are some ideas:

Read More

The single most important factor to prepare the participants for having meaningful experience at the ELCA Youth Gathering is the “Getting Ready” Bible studies conducted by the youth group during the months before the event. A close second, however, is a clear and mutually agreed upon “covenant.” Dictionary.com defines “Covenant” as: 3. Ecclesiastical. a solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel. The covenant should be understood, therefore, as a solemn agreement between the youth; between the youth and the adult leaders; and between the participants and the congregation. Below are some suggestions of topics and ways in which they can be addressed in such an agreement.

Developing a Covenant
The covenant should not be a list of rules handed down from the adult leaders to the youth. Rather, developing a covenant should be a collaborative effort between all of the participants in which everyone’s contribution is valued. This is best done during a “getting ready” session or, better yet, during a retreat. Once the participants have developed a mutually agreeable covenant it should be signed by each participant and the parents of the youth. Some congregations may choose to have the covenant ratified by the church council.

Purpose of Attending the Gathering
First, it is important that everyone involved agrees to the mission of the Gathering and the congregation’s participation. Then ask why is this congregation participating? Is it to learn the Gospel? To spread the Gospel? To serve others? To learn from others? To prepare leaders of the church? What is NOT the purpose of the congregation’s participation? It is not a “vacation;” a tradition; or reward for successful fundraising. Understanding why the congregation is sending these participants should inform the rest of the covenant.

Preparation for the Event
What are the expectations for the youth and adult participants to attend the “Getting Ready” sessions? Who will be responsible for presenting the sessions? What are the expectations of the youth and adult participants to take part in fundraising? What are the financial expectations of the participants? In this section of the covenant physical preparation should also be discussed. For example, all participants should press fluids starting two weeks before the event to become fully hydrated. The event will also require some physical stamina so daily walks of about a mile or two before the event would be a good suggestion. If physical preparation is important, then spiritual preparation must be at least as important. For example, youth and adults attending can be asked to pray daily for the event and the group in the weeks before the event. They can also be asked to study and pray through the Gospel of Mark.

Dress Code
Why have a dress code? Primarily, the dress code is for the health and safety of the participants; but also for the sake of our witness to the Gospel. Health & Safety: Wear shoes to walk 3 miles in whenever you leave your hotel. The number one cause of injuries at the last gathering was injuries to toes caused by the use of flip flops. Each day, most participants will walk more than 3 miles in intense heat so blisters, sprains and such will be a concern. Tennis shoes (a.k.a. sneakers) are by far the best choice for walking while flip flops, heels, boots are just silly (more on this in another email). Remember, a foot injury not only hurts the injured but will slow up the entire group. Witness to the Gospel: Saint Paul instructed Timothy to “…keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry (II Timothy 4:5). In order that we can better “do the work of an evangelist” let there be no clothing that advertises alcohol or tobacco products or contains profanity. No short skirts or short shorts; all shirts must come to the waist; no tube tops, tank tops, or sports bras (without something on top).

Be on time for all activities, rendezvous, and “check-ins.” To make the group wait for you is a selfish act that adversely affect both the schedule and the group dynamics. Because the days will be physically and emotionally demanding it is important to get enough rest and abide by “lights out” and “curfews” established by the group. No profanity should be tolerated. Some groups impose a $0.25 contribution for each breech of the 3rd commandment to be added to the offering on the last day. Your youth leader must know where you are at all times. Some groups may allow youth to move about in groups, I recommend groups of not less than four so that if one participant is injured one can stay and two can go for help. But, I strongly recommend that groups include not less than one adult. Report all illnesses to an adult leader. No “drama.” No members of the opposite gender in hotel rooms to respect the privacy of your roommates. The hotel hallways and lobby are a great place of conversation and games. The hotel and other facilities should not be harmed in anyway. The hotel staff, wait staff, and all others should be treated with the upmost respect and cooperation. Commit to maintaining a positive attitude regardless of circumstances. Your attitude will make or break the experience of every group member!

Wait staff, bell hops, doormen, cab drivers, housekeeping and many others often have difficulty making ends meet. We cannot say we are doing service work in Detroit and then make these people suffer by not tipping generously. These people often make a majority of their income from tips. Please include in your covenant a commitment to honor gratuity guidelines like:

Meals: 15-20%
Bellhops $2.00 per bag
Cabbies per ride $5.00
Hotel Housekeeping staff $4.00 per room per day (a nice note attached is a fine touch)

To learn more about the lives of service people see Ehrenreich, Babara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. New York: Metropolitan, 2001. Or Schipler, David K. The Working Poor: Invisible in America. New York: Vintage, 2004.

You can consult more tipping guides at http://www.tripadvisor.com/Travel-g191-s606/United-States:Tipping.And.Etiquette.html http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-11-2012/tipping-guidelines-and-etiquette.html http://www.emilypost.com/out-and-about/tipping/89-general-tipping-guidelines http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/05/14/the-5-new-rules-on-tipping-when-traveling/

What to Bring and Not
Each participant should bring enough with them for their own safety and hygiene but not so much luggage as to burden the group. Participants will NOT need to bring: dress up clothes, linens, you may bring your favorite Bible but one will be provided at your registration. The Hotel will provide towels, hair dryer, coffee maker, soap, shampoo, and an iron/ironing board. Participants should NOT bring or at any time be in possession of: illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, fireworks, weapons, or pornography. We have created a delightful short video about what to bring which you can view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ja0eulQEgVA Each group should come to agreement on clear rules about when cell phones maybe used. For example, only in the hotel room and never during the Gathering programming or youth group activities. However, the possession of a fully charged cell phone for each participant is strongly encouraged in the event of an emergency or misplaced participant. There will also need to be a mutual understanding about the appropriate use of personal music players of MP3/MP4 players and ipods. Of course, listening to music does disrupt community and limited personal interaction. On the other hand, not all youth are extroverts and some have a legitimate need to take a break from so much time together. This will be especially true on long bus rides.

There will be times when, often by accident or forgetfulness, the covenant will be broken by both youth and adults. These issues are best addressed with a kind reminder in private and if after that it is still necessary then addressing the behavior as a group (see Matthew 18:15-16). There are some behaviors which everyone should know in advance will not be tolerated and the ramification will be an immediate dismissal for home at the parent’s expense. This is only a valid response, however, if the parents and youth have a clear understanding of these ramifications in advance. If an adult leader engages in a behavior for which there is no tolerance or if the group become unmanageable contact the “hotel life team” or consult with Pr. Anderson at 319-415-1923.

Participation upon return from the Gathering
The ELCA Youth Gathering is not intended to be the final step but only the beginning the participant’s involvement in the congregation. The covenant should spell out exactly what the post-event expectations are. Will there be a special worship service for the participants to lead? Will there be “post-gathering” events in the congregation or with the congregations you traveled with? Is there an expectation of a level of involvement in youth ministry after the gathering?

The Congregation
The congregation should covenant to support the group in prayer before, during and after the event. A sending service before the group leaves, inclusion in the bidding prayers while they are gone, and an order for welcoming home the Sunday after they return is appropriate. The congregation can also be asked to covenant into a level of financial support for the gathering and a level of support for youth ministry in the year(s) following the event

Please feel free to share these tips with adults attending the Gathering, youth attending the Gathering, parents of youth attending the Gathering and any other interested persons..


Words of Wisdom
#1 Bible Study Preparation

The first installment of the pre-gathering Bible study is available at http://www.elca.org/Resources/ELCA-Youth-Gathering. Just click on “Getting Ready Material” and then download “ELCA Youth Gathering Lesson One.” You may also want to consider sharing these lessons more widely. For example:

Read More
      • Start a small group Bible study for parents of youth attending
      • Use these materials for your adult Sunday School or special after church forums
      • Use these materials in confirmation class
      • Use these materials for Devotionals for church council or other meetings

I will be in Detroit starting Jan. 30 – Feb. 2 attending the latest briefings about the details of the Gathering, so watch for more emails soon.

Also Deb Ford and I will be holding an adult orientation to the youth gathering. The identical sessions will be held at 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

      • Sunday, March 8, at the Hanson Spirituality Center at Bremwood in Waverly, Iowa
      • Sunday, March 15, at Decorah Lutheran Church, Decorah, Iowa

Please plan to attend one of these sessions.

Please feel free to share these tips with adults attending the Gathering, youth attending the Gathering, parents of youth attending the Gathering and any other interested persons.


Share Transportation

If your youth group can share transportation seats with another congregation or if your group is in need of seats, let the synod office know so that we can post it on the chart below.

Submit Transportation Request


2015 Transportation Chart
Congregation MM City MM Transportation MM Sell/Buy MM Contact
St. John Arlington
St. Paul Aurora  Sell 3 seats David Young
Trinity Belmond
Bethlehem Cedar Falls Gary Hedding
St. John Cedar Falls A. J. Houseman
Galilean Clear Lake Vicki Whelan
First Cresco
Immanuel Cresco Chartered Bus Sell 20 seats Larry Trende or Pr. Elaine Siemsen
Decorah Decorah
First Decorah
St. Peter Denver
St. John (Maxfield) Denver
Lord of Life Dubuque Rod Wiese
St. John Frederika
Faith Garner
St. John Guttenberg Michele Von Handorf
St. Paul Hampton Need 14 seats Steph Korth or Pr. Steve Winsor
Grace Hanlontown Linda Prestholt
American Jesup
Zion LaPorte City Jenna Couch
Trinity Mason City Marcy Colvin
St. Paul Maynard Stacy Kuennen
St. Paul Monona Erika Kielstrup
Zion Oelwein
Our Savior Osage
Ossian Ossian
Zion St. John Sheffield Chartered Bus All seats are sold Alison Northrop
Faith Shell Rock
St. Petri Story City
St. John Sumner
St. Peter Sumner Lynn Richards
Grace Tripoli Carol Boldt
St. John (Crane Creek) Tripoli
Zion Waterloo Deb Ford
Redeemer Waverly
St. Paul Waverly Paul Frantsen
To buy or sell seats, contact the congregation directly. Rev. 3-6-2015.





More about the Gathering

Find photos, first-hand reports, links, media coverage and more about the Gathering and our groups from the Northeastern Iowa Synod. You do not need to have a Facebook or Twitter account to view the updates. Use the links below:


Watch Live Stream Archives

Live Stream Schedule 

Why You Should Watch the Live Stream from the Gathering


Find Facebook Posts 
Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
ELCA Youth Gathering


Read Tweets from Twitter 

NE Iowa Synod, ELCA — #neiayouth
ELCA Youth Gathering — #RiceUpELCA


Media Article

5 Things We Learn About Lutherans from Their Youth Event


Gathering Links

Youth Gathering Schedule

ELCA Youth Gathering Resources

Gathering Mobile App


Synod Resources

Rise UP PowerPoint

Rise UP PowerPoint (pdf)

How to Write a Covenant

Blessing & Sending Litany



Safety in Detroit for the Gathering
Choosing Adult Leaders
Adult Leader Guide


Tourism Information

Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Cranbrook Art Museum

Motown Historical Museum

Detroit Historical Society Museum

Detroit Institute of the Arts

Detroit River Front


Fund-raising Ideas

Sell Shares of Stock for people to “invest” in your trip to the ELCA Youth Gathering
Selling Stock Script
Stock Pledge Card

Open a Youth Ministry Mission Plus Account through the ELCA Mission Investment Fund to earn interest on funds your congregation’s youth raise for the 2012 Youth Gathering and other events.
Youth Ministry MissionPlus Account


Find more fund-raising ideas.


Proclaim Justice Day

Learn about the Proclaim Justice Day at the ELCA Youth Gathering

Hotel Eitquette

Pastor Obvious gives pointers on how to have an enjoyable hotel stay.


What to Pack for Detroit

Wondering what to bring to the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering? Rachel has been before and she has some good advice!