An event for youth, young adults, and adults who accompany youth in faith formation

January 6-8, 2017
Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center
Watch the Winterfest 2016 Images Project
2017 Winterfest Promo Flyer
2017 Winterfest Bulletin Insert

Tell me about Winterfest

Agape performs at Winterfest 2016

Once known as this synod’s “senior high youth event,” Winterfest has become a much larger gathering of central PA Lutheran Christians. It still includes mostly senior high youth often representing 60+ congregations, young adults, mainly college-aged, who gather with peers to discuss their faith through the lens of our curriculum. Plus, congregations that participate have always sent adult “advisors” to accompany their youth, but in recent years we have also added adult learning tracks and invited other adults who are looking to deepen their faith or broaden their personal education, to participate in our community as well.

In 2017, Winterfest will open it’s doors to one of our ecumenical partners and for the first time will formally invite Episcopal congregations in the Diocese of Central PA, to bring youth from their congregations to participate alongside our Lutheran congregations.

Each year, a theme is chosen and a curriculum developed that explores an idea from scripture. Youth are divided into small groups of their peers, led by an adult “small group leader,” chosen for their unique gifts in teaching and accompanying youth. Large group sessions reinforce our scriptural theme and help us place the theme in our current context, helping to feed the topical discussions in small group. Add plenty of opportunities for fellowship, fun, and inspiring worship and singing to the mix, and you’ve got what many participants consider a “must-attend” event.

2017 Theme: “STAND”

Being connected to Christ, through the gift of our Baptism into the family of God, and our call to be Christ’s disciples in the world, empowers us to stand firm on some basic Biblical truths. Additionally, as we are reminded in scripture Christ calls us to help usher in the Kingdom of God, a way of living and being that is radically different in many ways than the kind of life our culture offers to us. To stand for a different way of living and being is truly counter-cultural, and could be perceived as risky for the average American teen. 

Yet we have examples from our own historic experience. As we prepare to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the emergence of the Protestant Reformation, begun by leaders such as Martin Luther, we recall Luther’s willingness to stand firm before the Pope and his Roman Catholic accusers. When accused and called upon to “recant” his writings, Luther simply stated that he stood on what he understood to be the Word and will of God. This could have cost Luther his life, but it led to one of the greatest shifts in the history of Christianity.

Similarly, over the years countless Christians have stood in support of those who were suffering, took a stand against injustice(s) and oppression of this world in its many forms, and stood for love, hope, and forgiveness in the face of hatred, doom and intolerance.How can we help equip another generation to stand with the same boldness and confidence, knowing that they stand with Christ in this mission?

2017 Registration Details:

  1. dsc_0023LutheranHANDS has once again partnered with us to offer a Friday night option for service projects for local community organizations.
    PLEASE NOTE: Friday evening large group will be a Winterfest themed large group, led by Winterfst MC’s and the Winterfest Band. Our evening options Friday will include inflatable games and snack as well as the LutheranHANDS service projects. No small groups will be offered Friday evening.
  2. Care for Congregations: Faith Formation with Adults, makes it’s debut in 2017, led by synod Learning Ministry Team members, seminarians and seminary leaders offered twice on Saturday and including a lunch meal. Adults leading congregational groups can attend these for free, but other adults are welcome to register exclusively for the training seminars offered on Saturday only. See descriptions below.
  3. Our Young Adult Ministry is being reinvigorated, under the direction of Darren Hamric, and along with special young adult learning groups, we will feature a special evening event on Friday for early arrivals and Saturday night reception room. We invite groups of young adults who have been gathering across the synod to come join their peers for a weekend of fellowship and learning. (Groups that have been meeting throughout the year are welcome to meet as a small group at the event, and to use the curriculum to help shape their discussions)
  4. Saturday evening we will offer the Winterfest Sneak Preview, an opportunity for 8th grade students who will be eligible to attend Winterfest in 2018, to come enjoy the evening meal and evening activities, including a large group learning session, and to bring along parents or Sunday school teachers and Confirmation teachers, who may be curious about what happens at Winterfest, and what to expect when their youth come of age to attend.

Winterfest 2017 Registration Info Packet
Winterfest 2017 Sample Registrants Form
Winterfest 17 Group Registration Form
Winterfest 2017 Group Housing Form
To register, simply mail the Group Registration Form and Group Housing Forms with your deposit to the synod office!

Registration OPTIONS and details for 2017:

  • dsc_0019-3Winterfest 2017 + LutheranHANDS Service Project(s) ($215.00*): *same price as 2015 & 2016: Includes the ENTIRE Winterfest event, including small group, large groups,  inflatable games and all activities, plus lodging Friday & Saturday night(s), Friday evening snack, Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack, and Sunday breakfast. The Friday evening large group will be led by the Winterfest Band and Winterfest MC’s, and will include the inflatable game room, snack AND LutheranHANDS service projects. Breakfast Saturday morning is inlcuded in this option.  This option also includes the LutheranHANDS pre-event and activities. All small groups will begin Saturday morning, so that participants opting for the Winterfest Mini-Event can get a full experience of the curriculum. 
  • Winterfest Mini-Event 2017 ($155.00): Includes a majority of the Winterfest event, including all small group sessions, all Community Life activities on Saturday, plus lodging Saturday night, Saturday lunch, dinner, and snack, and Sunday breakfast.  (Programming begins at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning)
  • Winterfest Sneak Preview ($40.00): Includes the Saturday evening dinner meal, a Winterfest large group, and all evening activities on Saturday evening. If you cannot attend the entire event or are looking for a more affordable option, this may be for you! Please do NOT plan on staying over on Saturday evening, or “crashing” in a friend’s room.                                                                             

What is this “Care for Congregation: Faith Formation with Adults?”

If you are attending Winterfest as an adult leader, adult faith formation opportunities are FREE, if you want to come just for the adult tracks, the fee is $30, and includes lunch with the Winterfest community!
There are nearly 150 adults who attend Winterfest on an annual basis. While some have responsibilities for the event management, and some are small group leaders, many come to serve as congregational advisors, who accompany youth and who often tell us that they gain as much from the event as their youth do. In 2013, we began to experiment with special adult learning tracks, to give adults even more opportunity for their own faith formation, and to provide education around how to more faithfully accompany youth in your home congregation setting. This year we are raising the bar even higher! We have invited our synod Learning Ministries Team, seminarians, and seminary staff, and pastors to offer programming for adults during two of the Saturday small group times.

Adults who are attending the Winterfest event can opt to participate in any of the Adult Tracks offered for FREE, and adult leaders NOT attending Winterfest will be able to attend and participate in both adult learning track times and join us for lunch for a fee of $30.00.


There are two basic adult tracks: a Resourcing Track and a Learning Track.

The Resourcing Track, will begin Saturday and last throughout the weekend, and will gather leaders together to create a one-year (approximately 12 session) curriculum to be used by congregations for peer ministry, small group ministry, or “youth” group. Participants will work cooperatively to develop this curriculum around a common theme, and all participants in this track will receive the finished curriculum for use in their congregational settings for the 2017-2018 school year. Led by an experienced youth leader and teacher, Michael Williams, who has designed a number of year-long curriculum’s for use in youth and family ministry in a congregational setting.

The Learning Track features a number of options. All sessions are 75-minutes in length, and all adult participants are invited to access one session in each time block, 10:45AM – 12:00N, and 1:30PM – 2:45PM, on Saturday, January 7, 2017.
Participants who register only for theses Care in Congregation tracks, are also invited to join the Winterfest community for lunch, 12:15 PM-1:15PM. All Learning Track presenters are listed below, with a link to a session description handout, suitable for download and printing.

Winterfest 2017 Adult Learning Track Descriptions

Pastor Jennifer Crist, Communities of Hope missional community located in Harrisburg & Winterfest Chaplain
Jean & Albert Daily,
 Al is a local Thrivent representative, and he and his wife Jean are local volunteers
Jay Eckman, seminarian at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg
Marsha Roscoe
, Deacon, and synod Resource Network Director
Pastor Tim Seitz-Brown, Paradise Lutheran in Thomasville
Athar Rafiq & Rukhsana Rahman, members of the Muslim community 
Michael Williams, Youth Director at Palm Lutheran in Palmyra, school teacher and coach

Winterfest 2017 Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. If we opt as a congregation to only attend on Saturday & Sunday, what will we miss?
    You will miss our thematic opening large group on Friday evening, all the fellowship and group activities, plus the LutheranHANDS servant options offered on Friday evening. You will also miss the Saturday morning breakfast. However, there will be a large group on Saturday morning and a the first full small group session, so youth will experience a full immersion in the theme and learning opportunities. This is a good option for congregations and families that may feel the realities of a budget “pinch.”
  2. Why have an evening that includes 8th graders?
    This was actually a suggestion from one of our senior high youth who advises our planning team! She made the point that many 8th graders who have spent three years attending ALiVE, or maybe even never attending a synod youth event, may have no idea how much fun it is to attend Winterfest, or may be intimidated by the large scale of an event like this. By giving them a sneak preview, we are allowing them to get a taste and allowing their parents or other adult advisors an opportunity to also see the experience first-hand. This also limits the wait-time that middle-schoolers experience from their last ALiVE to their first Winterfest, a span of about 16 months.
  3. Who will really benefit from attending the “Care for Congregations” Adult Learning Options?
    Really any adults who are leaders in your congregational setting who interact with children and youth. So, it could be Sunday school and Confirmation teachers or volunteers, parents, youth committee or team members, or even council members who are more interested in getting their finger on the pulse of what youth and family ministry is all about. Some options will include more education, while others will be designed to help offer spiritual nurture and care for adults.
    Adult advisors attending Winterfest may attend any of these sessions for FREE!

What is Winterfest? A Historic Perspective

Winterfest is our annual synod senior-high and young adult event, for youth in grades 9-12, and young adults up to age 24. Typically held the first weekend of the new year, the event includes large group gatherings with live music, speakers and video, all focused on a central theme. Participants also gather with youth their own age for caring conversation and activities in small groups with leaders trained to help them discuss the event theme and its impact on their daily lives of faith formation. The weekend includes lots of time for fun and socializing, hanging with old friends and meeting new ones, as well as time for worship and prayer.

Each year youth can look forward to traditional small group conversations with peers, but also the interactive learning modules recently added to the afternoon line-up at Winterfest. Youth can also look forward to many of the fun and fellowship activities that make Winterfest memorable, like inflatable games, Ultimate Frisbee, volleyball and basketball in the Host’s spacious Expo Center, a Saturday evening dance, live music and karaoke, snacks and more.
Youth leaders can gather for continuing education, spiritual nurture, and fellowship with their peers.

Downloadable Registration Resources