as part of our Youth Ministry at Trinity, we attended
the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering...the below is an
article we sent to the Cook County News Herald
A Youth Group Gathering Where? Detroit? Really?
Thanks to the help of many folks from Cook County, Trinity Lutheran Church in Hovland sent a group to the every-three-year national Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. MaeAnna LaFavor, Pastor Kris Garey, and Lauren Thompson of Lutsen were gone 10 days with a bus caravan of 350 NE MN high school students from Lutheran churches. A frequent question we heard before we left was, Detroit? Really? Why? We kept saying because the ELCA goes where it is tough for people...and we found that Detroit is already Rising Up (which was our own theme for the Gathering), and we found great people.
We spent 3 days in Lansing doing service projects, worshiping, learning about the effects of racism, poverty, and impacts of world economy. We then traveled to Detroit for 4 days, joining 30,000 students and adult leaders—almost filling Ford Field for worship 5 times. We went to museums, did service projects in Detroit neighborhoods and spent time at the Convention Center with a mix of activities of fun (including in-door zip-lines) and learning (including the needs for clean water around the world---more than $200,000 was raised during the Gathering to help provide wells). The music (by Agape, Skilliet, Blanca and others) at each nights gathering and worship was lifting and exhilarating. The whole event gave everyone a broader understanding of the difficulties many people face and let us be in the midst of a large group of Lutheran young people.
Everyone we met in Detroit, and the newspapers there, were so impressed with the students, their energy, and their commitment to Christ. One student told the Detroit Free Press, "It's moving to be at the nightly prayer services. There are times when you think, I don't know if anyone believes the stuff I do, and it can get to be kind of daunting sometimes. It's really awesome to know there are 29,999 other people just like me yelling their heads off." We found Detroit to be a city filled with people who are “Rising Up” from great difficulty, and people who told us our visits gave them hope as they realized others care about them and their future. We made friends with youth from near places like Two Harbors, and places as far away as Puerto Rico.
The ELCA has a phrase, “God’s work. Our hands.” On this trip, our hands were lifted in work, and in praise, and in friendship! So many people across Cook Co. helped through our fundraisers and with their interest in the trip---this made it extra meaningful for us. Thanks to everyone, here and in Detroit (and to the great ELCA and NE MN Synod planning staff!!)
At Trinity in Hovland we serve God by serving our neighbors--those near to us and those we've never met.Our photos show us in many places. Including clean-up in our church kitchen, and along Highway 61 through Hovland,
in Haiti with our friends in Bigonet, at our Cook County Care Center, in ministry to children through Vacation Bible School and special winter learning/fun events and through events like "Lake Superior plunges" by youth (and some brave or foolish adults) at the Hovland Dock...
We also support local families in need, and give generous support to Evangelical Lutheran Church in America relief efforts for disasters and to combat world hunger.