The NE MN Synod Journey
to the
2018 ELCA Youth Gathering 
February 27, 2018
Being Gathered Changes Everything!
This weekend nearly 200 high school youth and their adult leaders will gather for Cardia Deo to talk about what it means to be "Gathered." We are using Bible studies based on the five Bible stories that we will discuss on the Synod Journey (I'll post them after the event for your reference). As part of the retreat, seniors on the LYO Board will share faith talks on what it means to them to be Gathered. Let me share a quote from one of those talks - because I think this youth so clearly names how important your work is:

"All of these important adults in my life have gathered around me when I needed love, support and advice throughout high school. God was there in those moments, working through them. These people have helped me get to a place where I could actively build my relationship God. Through them, God was there."

That's what you're doing as you gather your groups for monthly meetings, bus group you chase down forms, put on yet another fundraiser, and explain to your church council yet again that this is NOT a vacation. You are doing nothing less than gathering around our young people so they can see God. That is deep, holy work that will indeed change everything for your young people.

On the Journey together,
Catherine Anderson
Coordinator of Youth Ministry

PS. Once again, there are lots of updates to share. Be sure to read through everything!!
Announcing our Speaker!!

I am so excited to announce that Colleen Windham-Hughes will be our speaker in  Galveston! Colleen teaches Religion and Public Life and Practical Theology at California Lutheran University. She has a passion for helping young people connect their faith to daily life, to stretch and challenge them to think deeper about the world around them, and to let them know they are loved unconditionally by the God who created them just as they are. Colleen will work alongside us each day, and speak each evening during worship.
Texas A&M University-Galveston Updates

I was recently made aware of requirements from Texas A&M that will unfortunately require some additional work from all of you. As you look through the required additions, it may be helpful to understand some terminology Texas A&M uses:
  • TAMUG: This is the acronym for Texas A&M University - Galveston.
  • Camp: TAMUG uses the term "camp" or "camp program" to refer to any group that stays on their campus involving young people. Every time you see the word "camp" think "Synod Journey."
  • Program Director/Sponsor: This title would refer to Catherine, as the overall leader for the Synod Journey.
Texas A&M requires their own liability waiver for each participant.
I have added it to the list of forms that are required by May 1. I tried to see if we could combine our synod release with the one they require, but they are not able to accept that. Don't be scared by their strong language and all caps! I did show this form to a lawyer who is also an adult leader on the Synod Journey (to make sure you weren't signing your life away to Texas), and he says it's mostly their way of doing due diligence and you'll still be able to go home with us at the end of the event. :)  Please note: Participants under the age of 18 do not need to sign this form, but their parents do.
Child Protection Training
Texas A&M requires every adult leader to complete an online Child Protection Training in order to stay on their campus with minors.
A password is required, and changes periodically. We will send the updated password in these updates as it changes.
The current password is:  Gyro$eQual#24
The next scheduled password change will be Monday, March 19.

The class takes about 45 minutes to complete. You need to complete a quiz at the end of each section and score 100% before you move on...but have no fear, you have unlimited attempts to pass! Once complete, the system will send you a link to download a Completion Certificate with a code on it. You need to download and save the Completion Certificate as a PDF, then email it to by May 1. We will send the code on to Texas A&M.
We fully support any action that protects our young people...and you, their adult leaders! This training offers that. I just wish they had told me about it last January when we started working with them so we could have talked about it at the Fall Training. Sometimes the language in these types of trainings makes you wonder if you can have any sort of relationship with children who are not your own. Let me assure you, the NE MN Synod strongly affirms and encourages relational ministry with young people, walking alongside them and accompanying them on their faith journey. The intent of this training is to create safe space for that to happen. We hold a great responsibility and trust with our young people - we want to make sure they are secure in knowing we are doing everything in our power to share Christ's love with them in ways that protect their physical, emotional and spiritual health!
The language in this training also assumes we are from Texas. While it's true that while in the state we are under their laws, I am confident if any need to report abuse issues arise, they will refer the report to Minnesota.
Synod Journey Forms!

With the addition of the links mentioned above, all forms for the Synod Journey and ELCA Youth Gathering are now posted on our Synod Journey website. Forms are due May 1...but earlier is always better!! Start passing these out at your next meeting!

A note on the ELCA Forms: We collect these to make sure you have all your paperwork for the Gathering so you don't miss out on any activities in Houston. The ELCA Medical Form asks for a Social Security Number - please ignore that and do not include your SSN.
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 for this video entry is Wednesday, March 28th. 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 ...
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!
Houston Housing Updates!
In case you missed it, we have been assigned to the Hyatt Regency Galleria! This is a beautiful space. And guess what - there is a Walgreen's less than two blocks away!! And lots of good eating options. We'll share more about that at the Spring Adult Leader training.

Just another friendly reminder that you do not need to do anything with your housing! When you see posts from the Gathering asking Primary Leaders to check their Congregation Accounts, to contact the hotel - you can laugh to yourself as you hit delete, knowing that Catherine is taking care of that for you!

Once I receive our specific room type assignments, I will do my best to match the housing requests you submitted during registration. Expect some changes - housing is very tight for the Gathering, and no congregation will be receiving all the room types they request. You will be sent the final housing arrangements in the May mailing.
Spring Training Meetings!
Mark your calendars now! 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
Synod Journey Timeline
Wondering if you are forgetting something? We have posted a timeline on the SJ Adult Leader Info page to help you think about important deadlines, activities and announcements you should be making with your group. This is a generic timeline - you will want to add your own specific activities! And know your group - if they're slow to turn things in, you might want to bump up some of those dates!!

Worship in Galveston
The Synod Journey Worship Team is busy planning engaging worship experiences for you in Galveston! The Synod Band has been selected - we have eight youth members, representing seven congregations!

A helpful tidbit as you prepare...worship in Galveston will incorporate the rituals from the Story Kit resources. If you have only been using the Gathering Getting Ready Materials, it might be helpful for your group to do at least one of the Story Kit Sessions so they are familiar with these rituals before they arrive.
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