The NE MN Synod Journey
to the
2018 ELCA Youth Gathering 
March 27, 2018
Jesus Changes Everything... 
This morning as I was getting ready for work, the Today Show was playing a segment on " Finding Faith." Kate Bowler, a Duke Divinity professor living with stage-4 cancer, was featured. She has written the book, " Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved." I loved her last comment in the piece:
"Everything happens. Period. Sometimes things come apart, and sometimes things come together. If I could pick one thing to share, it would be that everyone simmers down on the explanations for other people's suffering, and just steps in with love."

Isn't that Easter? God could have explained away the suffering of the world. Instead God sent Jesus to step in with love. And that has changed everything.

This Holy Week and beyond, may you and the youth you are accompanying on this Journey encounter the risen Christ who chose to step into our lives and our world with love.

On the Journey together,
Catherine Anderson
Coordinator of Youth Ministry
Texas A&M Child Protection Training: Password Update

The current password is:  HALcyon!driz2LE
The next scheduled password change will be Monday, April 30.

Thank you to all of you who have completed this training and have sent in your certificates! Remember, ALL adults on the Synod Journey are required by Texas A&M to take this training. 

Click here for more information.
Gathering Rotation

Our synod has been assigned this rotation at the Gathering:

Thursday:  Synod Day
Friday:        Service Learning Day
Saturday:   Interactive Learning Day

Our Synod Journey buses will provide transportation to each of these activities, and back to our hotel at the end of each night. (Except on our Service Learning Day, which will be provided by the ELCA Youth Gathering.)

Houston Housing

Remember how I said in the fall to "hold all things loosely" as we move forward in planning? In case you missed it in the Facebook Group, our hotel assignment has been changed to the

Wyndham Houston Energy Corridor
14703 Park Row
Houston, TX 77079

At first glance at Google Maps, the hardest part of this change is that there is very limited (practically no) food options nearby. The reality, though, is that we spend very little time at the hotel. See below for food options and what we're planning to help you get to food when needed!

Once again, a friendly reminder that all of your hotel arrangements are being taken care of for you! No matter what you read from the Gathering - you do NOT need to access your congregational accounts, or do anything with your housing or transportation!

Yesterday your housing assignments were submitted. Housing is very limited for the Gathering, and we need to work with the room types we are given. Thankfully, w e were able to accommodate most requests that were made at registration. Just know that youth may have been combined with youth from another congregation to fill a room. In the final mailing you will receive a listing of exact assignments and room types.  We will be meeting with the hotel staff during our site visit in April and will be sure to post pictures in our Facebook group!
Meal Planning During the Gathering!

Now that our hotel and rotation are finalized, you can begin planning in earnest how you will feed your group for the meals you are on your own! We will cover this in more detail at the Spring Trainings, but here is an overview of where we will be for meals:

Saturday, June 23:
Lunch and Supper on your own during travel

Sunday, June 24: 
Breakfast on your own during travel

Sunday, June 24 Lunch - Wednesday, June 27 Breakfast:
All these meals will be provided for you!!
We have added a box lunch on Sunday, June 24 to pick up upon your arrival to Texas A&M!

Wednesday, June 27:
Lunch: On your own during your bus activity
Supper: On your own, you will be at NRG Stadium

Thursday, June 28 (Synod Day):
Breakfast: At the hotel (Grab and go options for purchase, or on your own* in hotel room.)
Lunch: Buses will depart early from the hotel to take you to the Galleria area for lunch on your own. You will walk from the Galleria area to our Synod Day assigned ballroom.
Supper:  On your own, you will be at NRG Stadium

Friday, June 29 (Service Learning day):
Breakfast: At the hotel (Grab and go options for purchase, or on your own* in hotel room.)
Lunch: Will be provided by the Gathering.
Supper: On your own, you will be at NRG Park

Saturday, June 30 (Interactive Learning Day):
Breakfast: At the hotel (Grab and go options for purchase, or on your own* in hotel room.)
Lunch: On your own, you will be at the Interaction Center
Supper: On your own, you will be at NRG Park

Sunday, July 1:
Breakfast: At the hotel (Grab and go options for purchase, or on your own* in hotel room.)
Lunch: Provided by the Synod at NRG Stadium, immediately following worship
Supper: On your own during travel

Monday, July 2:
Breakfast and  Lunch on your own during travel.

*Before we depart Galveston, adult leaders will be given the opportunity to go to Walmart (or similar) to purchase breakfast and snack items for the remainder of the trip. Synod Journey leadership will make a limited grocery run each morning while in Houston to help groups purchase perishables (milk, yogurt).

NRG Stadium options in addition to nearby restaurants:
The ELCA Youth Gathering is providing opportunities for congregations to purchase a plated meal at NRG Stadium. Cost is $26 per person per meal. Click here for more information and to register your group. If you sign up, please email Catherine a copy of the confirmation letter you will receive. You will be responsible to pay this amount with your final payment on May 1. 

Fast food will be available at the concession stands in NRG Stadium. Expect stadium prices. Concessions will close as soon as programming begins, even if you're in line.

If you have an adventurous group, you might consider hopping on the MetroRail to go to a different area for supper options. Just plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to get back, knowing that thousands of others will be doing this as well! Any costs riding the MetroRail are up to individuals and congregations.

With the abundance of food delivery options like Uber Eats and Food Dudes in addition to normal restaurant delivery, you might pre-arrange having a meal delivered and find some green (or concrete) space for a picnic!
Spring Training Events!
There will be three identical spring trainings for adult leaders to equip you with the final details for the Synod Journey and ELCA Youth Gathering. It is expected that all adult leaders attend one of these trainings, and  mandatory that at least one adult leader from each group  attend. You are also welcome to bring additional adults working with your group. These trainings are essential as you prepare for the Journey!
Sunday, April 15,  2:00-4:30pm              
First Lutheran Church, Hinckley
Saturday, April 21,  9:30am - Noon              
First Lutheran Church, Duluth
Sunday, April 22,  2:00-4:30pm
Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Baxter

Registration is not required, but is very helpful for planning! We want to make sure we have enough coffee!! =)

May 1 Deadline!
Are you ready for May 1st?
  • Final Payments are due!
  • All forms are due!
If you have not already done so, make sure you request a check from your treasurer soon so it is ready to go by the May 1 deadline. And start tracking down your kids to get those forms signed and submitted! It is critical that you have information postmarked by May 1 so we have enough time to process your paperwork for ELCA deadlines.

If you have any registration changes (cancellations, substitutions) please notify Catherine as soon as possible and submit the "Changes Form" on the Registration Form page!

Youth Speakers Needed for our Synod Day!
Our synod's planning team for the Synod Day at the ELCA Gathering is looking for 5 youth participants who are interested in helping to lead the event for our synod at the ELCA Youth Gathering. These youth should be comfortable speaking in front of a large group, speak with energy/enthusiasm, and be willing to share about a time in their life on the topic of "belonging." If you have some youth that you think would be interested, please have them put together a short video in which they talk about belonging (in their faith community or other group), and send the video or a link to the video to Susan Williams at The submission deadline has been extended to Monday, April 2. The applicants will be need to be available for a rehearsal sometime in May. 

For the video, choose one of the following to share:
1.    "My name is (name of leader), and I am from (congregation and city).  I most feel a sense of belonging in my faith community when . . ."
2.  "My name is (name of youth), and I am from (congregation and city).  The time in my life when I most felt a sense of belonging was ...
Upcoming Mailings
There will be two more mailings sent to Primary Leaders for the Synod Journey:

Beginning of April:
Payment Reminder

End of May:
Final Itinerary
Final Bus Assignments and Departure Times
Packing List
Final Updates

All mailings (including the email updates) are also posted at:
Blast Off for Books!
We LOVE that the Gathering is collecting books for literacy projects around Houston! 
And we LOVE that our congregations are super excited about this offering opportunity!
What we would LOVE for you to consider is purchasing the books on Amazon and shipping them directly to:
    Faith Lutheran Church 
    Blast Off for Books 
    4600 Bellaire Blvd 
    Bellaire, TX 77401
It's not impossible to bring books with you, but for space, weight and convenience in getting the books to the Interaction Center in the time frame they need them...shipping them is most helpful!

Synod Journey Adult Leader Facebook Group
As we get closer to the Journey, more updates will be posted on the " NE MN Synod Journey 2018 Adult Leaders" Facebook Group. If you or other adult leaders are not in this group, I encourage you to join! Other adults who are supporting your trip are welcome to join the group too - just email me their names, so I know they are legit to be part of the group. 

We will continue to send these email updates...but the reality when time gets short is that I can post something in 30 seconds in the Facebook Group and get you info in a timely manner, rather than collecting the info in these email blasts to send at one time!
Getting Ready Materials
Don't forget to make your plan for your monthly meetings! An expectation of the Synod Journey is that groups meet at least monthly for group building, Bible studies and other activities to prepare for the Synod Journey and ELCA Youth Gathering. A variety of resources are  available on the Synod Journey Resource Page to assist you with these meetings.

And as always, if you have questions, don't hesitate to contact us!
More Information!

Throughout this year, if you have any questions regarding registration, housing or anything else regarding the NE MN Synod Journey or ELCA Youth Gathering, please email Catherine Anderson or call 218-724-4424, ext. 124. There is no question too small!
Northeastern Minnesota Synod | 218-724-4424| Email | Website