UPDATE: Youth Gathering Cancelled for 2022

OFFICIAL STATEMENT:
After much prayer, conversation and tears, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2022
Gathering, MYLE and the tAble due to the ongoing pandemic, the recent COVID-19 surge and public health
considerations. We know there are thousands of young people who will not get to experience the Gathering, and our hearts break for them. This was not an easy decision, and we ask for your prayers and your grace.

We understand the impact this decision will have on our youth, volunteers and planning teams, and we hope to return to Minneapolis for a future Gathering.

Registered congregations can visit their registration accounts starting Monday, Feb. 7, to select their desired
refund option. For more information and FAQs, please visit elca.org/Gathering.

With God’s power at work in and through us, we can do far more than we dare ask or imagine! The ELCA is fully committed to supporting the young people of our church and to seeing that the ministry of the Gathering, MYLE and the tAble continue for years to come. With that assurance, we are turning our attention toward 2024 for the next Gathering. Stay tuned to Gathering communications for a location announcement this summer.
Grace and peace.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

• Why is the Gathering canceled?
Our planning teams felt like it was no longer a safe decision to move forward with an in-person event because
of the ongoing pandemic and recent surges of COVID-19. With a unique event where participants are sharing
hotel rooms with members not in their households, there was a great concern of the Gathering becoming a
superspreader event. As people of faith, we feel like canceling was the best decision.
Like everywhere in the country and in our churches, there were a variety of opinions expressed about the
ability to host the Gathering safely. After much deliberation and prayer, leadership concluded it could not
happen. Until the Omicron variant, many thought it still might be possible. This latest development in
COVID-19 revealed its unpredictability. The only thing worse that canceling now would be doing so weeks or
even days before the event

How do we request a refund?
All registered congregations will be able to log into their registration accounts and request a refund starting
Monday, Feb. 7. There will also be an option to donate a portion of your deposits to the ministry of the
Gathering, MYLE and the tAble. All refunds will be made by direct deposit and will require account and routing
numbers to be entered. Please log into your accounts before March 4.

Will there be a Gathering in 2024?
Yes. The ELCA is deeply committed to the young people of our church and in providing a meaningful faith
formation event in 2024 and beyond.

When is the 2024 Gathering?
The 2024 Gathering will take place July 16-20, 2024, with the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and
the tAble taking place July 13-16, 2024.

What happens to those who were never given an opportunity to attend a Gathering because it was postponed
in 2021 and then canceled in 2022?
We know that there are thousands of young people who did not get to experience the Gathering. It was not an
easy decision to cancel, and our hearts break for these young people. We encourage young adults to connect
with ELCA Young Adult Ministries to learn more about exciting opportunities such as Young Adults in Global
Mission (YAGM), ABIDE small groups, and a new domestic fellowship program that is in the works. We also
hope to have young adult opportunities at the 2024 Gathering and encourage them to apply to serve on
planning teams.

What are other summer ministry programs that my group can participate in this summer?
We strongly encourage you to connect with your local outdoor ministry site to explore God’s boundless
creation with your young people. Many outdoor ministries are using our shared theme of boundless: God
beyond measure. To learn more or find your closest outdoor ministry site, please visit lomnetwork.org/sites.

To get a comprehensive list of FAQ’s, click GATHERING FAQ’s

Why a Youth Gathering?

Since before the turn of the 20th Century, the ELCA and her predecessor bodies have held a triennial Youth Gathering. In 2018, that gathering landed in Houston, Texas, and attracted 31,242 registered youth and adult leaders, with over 1,200 volunteers, making it the largest gathering of ELCA Lutherans in the country. In recent years, the “Gathering,” as it has come to be known, rotates participants through three primary days of faith formation practices, a day of service in the host city, a day of interactive learning with various ELCA partners and para-church organizations, and a day to gather as synod for worship and conversation about how to take the Gathering home to the participants’ communities and congregations.

In the city of Houston, the ELCA walked alongside 200 local institutions, agencies, and non-profits, to provide service within the city, including local schools, renovations to churches and homes affected by flooding, food banks, human-trafficking organizations, immigration agencies, and more. The “orange-wave” as it has become known, because our youth all wear matching orange tee shirts, sent 10,000 participants out to serve daily in the Houston metro area. The “Blast Off for Books” campaign, this Gathering’s in-kind offering option, garnered 40,000 books that will be distributed to children in the Houston area who might not otherwise be able to afford these books for basic school reading programs.

Our synod had 62 congregations represented with approximately 636 participants and 48 volunteers. Bishop James S. Dunlop and his wife Connie were also in attendance, as was synod Director for Faith Formation and Youth Ministry Charlie Roberts. Roberts shared that one of the unique stories from the ELCA Youth Gathering is the growing opportunity for families to serve together.

In addition, here’s just a taste of the generosity shown by participants at the 2018 Gathering:

  • 437 hair donations to children with hair loss

  • 1,248 units of blood donated from 987 donors

  • 200 grace bags and 100 kindness project rocks made by tAble participants (the pre-event specifically designed for youth with disabilities)

  • 700 individuals attended MYLE and visited 13 service sites (the pre-event specifically designed for multicultural youth and their advisors)

  • More than $260,000 raised for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/ELCA World Hunger‘s Global Farm Challenge

  • $261,226.43 in offering for Prison Congregations of America, Inc., the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, and new starts globally.

An example from our synod is the Snyder family from Grace Evangelical Lutheran, Camp Hill (see photo). Parents Terry and Todd Snyder served as Community Life Volunteers for their third Gathering alongside daughter Madison, a Gathering alumni, who also served as a Community Life Volunteer and a member of our Synod Day band. In addition, daughter Chelsea, also an event alum and former event planning team member who currently serves as an ordained Lutheran minister, accompanied her youth from Good Shepherd Lutheran in Somerville, New Jersey, and was able to house with her congregation, her sister and her parents in the same property. The multi-generational aspect of this triennial event continues to be one of the powerful growing edges of this important ministry in the life of our church.

To volunteer for future ELCA Youth Gatherings, contact Charlie Roberts at croberts@lss-elca.org

Snyder Family

Lower Susquehanna Synod & The Gathering

Our synod wasn’t always as invested in the ELCA Youth Gatherings as it has been since 1997. Now, we are one of the largest synods in attendance at the event, and we send dozens of volunteers to serve every three years. Volunteer registration typically opens in May of the year prior to a Gathering, so May 2020, for the Youth Gathering in Minneapolis. Community Life, Gathering Volunteer Corp, and Servant Companions are all areas where someone can serve the Gathering community. Post-high students can begin as early as their freshmen year applying to these areas of service, and there is no age-restriction for “seasoned” adults.

Synod Day

Synod Day is one of three programming days at a typical Youth Gathering. Our 2018 Synod Day included worship led by an group of talented musicians, representing a number of our congregations, all between the ages of 16-24. Bishop Jim Dunlop preached and presided at the worship experience, and our 600+ participants all had a chance to meet new friends and learn about the ways “Hope Changes Everything,” even back in the communities we come from in Central Pennsylvania. Holy Communion highlighted this event, as we broke bread and encountered the living Jesus in our time together.

“Skittles” describes the mass-Gathering crowd, because of the matching tees worn by congregations