ELCA Youth Gathering 2018

“This Changes Everything”
June 27 – July 1, 2018
Houston, TX
Gathering webpage (NEW)

2018 Gathering Pre-Registration Breifings
Whether you’ve been to an ELCA Youth Gathering in the past or attending for the first time, you are welcome to join us for one of our Gathering Briefings, to help you in your congregational planning for 2018. Our office will sponsor a series of these pre-registration briefings in a variety of locations around the synod this Spring, to make them more accessible to you and your event teams. You may attend as an individual or bring along additional adult advisors, or even one or two of your older youth. I do not recommended bringing all youth who are planning on attending. These briefings will cover a whole range of pre-registration topics like budgeting for the event, transportation options, movement around the city of Houston, housing, scholarships, and all things related to event planning. A second series of briefings will be held post-registration, specifically for congregations attending the event in June/July 2018. Our current (posted: 2/13/2017) briefing schedule includes:
+ Thursday, March 2, 6:00 PM, at St Peter’s, Middletown
+ Thursday, March 9, 6:30 PM, at St Paul, Spring Grove (NEW!)
+ Monday, March 13, 6:00 PM,
at the Synod Resource Cafe 
+ Sunday, March 19, 2:00 PM, at Grace, Camp Hill
+ Sunday, March 26, 2:00 PM, at Zion (Rife’s), Millersburg
+ Thursday, March 30, 6:00 PM, at Trinity, Chambersburg
+ Sunday, April 2, 1:00 PM,
at Zion, Landisville

What should congregations be doing now to prepare?

  • Making plans to attend a 2018 Gathering Briefing
  • Read and share the Gathering’s NEW goals, and Guiding Question (below)
  • Review our Q & A below
  • Consider which adults will attend as advisors (see the A-Z adult guide sheet below)
  • Hang Gathering posters and posting logos and links to your congregations social media
  • Conversing with youth, young adults and their parents about attending the event
  • Using promo videos in youth nights, peer ministry events, and even Sunday morning
  • Considering adding budget line-items for the Gathering both in 2017 & 2018
  • Discussing, planning or hosting fundraising events
  • Downloading the Official Gathering Handbook, designed to help you with ALL aspects of planning (visit: http://www.elca.org/youthgathering)
  • Registering to receive the Gathering gNews
  • Checking the NEW Gathering website for ideas

Planning Resources:
1. Choosing Adults to Accpmpany Youth, A-Z Guide

Web Resources:

1. The ELCA Youth Gathering OFFICIAL website http://elca.org/youthgathering
2. The ELCA Youth Gathering Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/youthgathering
3. On Twitter: #elcayg2018 
4. Stay connected to the Gathering gNews: http://www.elca.org/Resources/ELCA-Youth-Gathering

2018 Youth Gathering Guiding Question & Goals

The Youth Gathering would like to propose that we help parents, youth and congregational leadership to pose a new question as it relates to the Gathering: Instead of asking “What city is the Gathering going to next?” the Gathering is proposing you ask, “Why is the ministry of the Gathering important?”  At a time when the value of faith formation for all generations is critical to our ongoing life together as disciples of Jesus in the world today, the Gathering suggests these “goals” as guiding principles:
1. Participants are affirmed and challenged in their faith
2. Participants experience new perspectives
3. Participants ponder their vocation
4. Participants bond with their congregational group
5. Participants learn about the larger church (ELCA and beyond)

FYI: Questions parents and congregational leaders may be asking

1. Will we be housed CLOSER to the dome and major event venues?
No hotels are within walking distance to major venues in Houston, so ALL participants will board buses each morning to get to the Gathering venues. However, no hotel is more than a 20-minutes drive to those venues, and many are a shorter commute.
2. Will there be cheap parking if we want to use our own vehicles to commute daily?
The NRG Center, and the convention center share one large parking lot with over 65,000 parking spaces. There will likely be a $12-$18 fee to park there daily, but the parking is right at the main event venues.
3. If we rent a bus to get to the Gathering, will there be an option to sub-let buses at the Gathering?
4. So are the major Gathering venues close together?
Basically, since the NRG Stadium (main stage), and NRG Center (convention center) are located together in NRG Park: https://www.nrgpark.com/, they share one massive parking area with many lots. It is quite a large complex.
5. Does it benefit congregations to register early?
Yes! There will be a sliding registration rate that will escalate every couple of months. The base event registration rate is $350, if you register between September 15th (opening day), and November 15th. Then the rate goes up. The other benefit to registering before November 15th, is that those congregations will receive their housing assignments BEFORE the ELCA Network event, scheduled for Houston in January 2018. This will allow leaders traveling to the annual “Network” event to see their property’s first-hand in January. There is a $150 non-refundable deposit due at the time you register your group.
6. Will there still be a “synod day?”
Yes. It is currently believed that all synod congregations will be housed together in one hotel, or in hotels that are in the same proximity.
7. Will there still be a “service day?”
Yes. At the present, the thinking is that you will launch directly from your hotel to “service” venues. A staff person has been hired in Houston, who is building relationships with non-profits and faith-based ministries in Houston that offer a variety of services to the people of Houston. You may be serving with an organization that serves the homeless, a feeding shelter, with people escaping the sex-trafficking industry, immigrant resettlement, schools, the aging, or a variety of other social ministries. There may be some work done with families recovering from flooding.
8. What can we learn from going to Houston? Why do they need us?
The better question may be why do we need Houston? As Lutheran Christians we have a lot to learn from Houston. Houston has no dominant “culture,” being the most diverse American city, with Latina’s/Latino’s, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Whites and others all living together. This diversity brings it’s own set of challenges, but also many benefits. It is a growing city, the fourth largest in America.
9. Is Houston safe?
Any city the size of Houston has crime. However, since most of our activities will be in one focused area of the city, we will be rather insulted as an event. The sergeant of the police-force in charge of special events  has assured leadership that his force, much more familiar with large city-wide conventions than most cities, will keep our young people safe.