Youth E-Chat: March 24, 2020
A blessing this day to you from the LYO Board…
May the Lord walk behind you
to encourage you,
Walk beside you
and be your friend,
May he walk in front of you
to show you the way,
Be above you and
protect you to the end.
Amen.

Jay Beech Benediction
Dear Friends,

I invite you to pause for a moment.

Way to go! You made it through this last week.

Seriously, that is no small thing. In one week you have completely re-written your ministry plans, your work plans, your family plans. You’ve managed having kids at home all day, while figuring out Zoom and Facebook Live. You’ve calmed fears, been present with youth and adults in their anxiety, prayed with and brought hope to your congregation and community. You’ve stepped into the grief of our young people losing activities they hold dear, sent emails and called Sunday school children to remind them they are loved and not forgotten, given leadership in ways you never dreamed you would lead, and done things in a virtual world you would have never tried in the real world.

And that was just last week.

So before we start thinking of what comes next, please find a mirror…look into it…and say to the hero you see, “well done, good and faithful servant. You rock.”

(Seriously. Do that. I’ll wait.)

Now what? Now we carry on being church together, as we have done this past week. The shock is wearing off and reality is setting in of how much life has changed and how long this might take. So as you live into our new normal this next week, I give you these encouragements for you and your ministries:

  • Keep showing up. Gather youth, parents, adults, groups virtually. But also check in one on one. Help them to name the losses, fears and anxiety they are experiencing…and where they are finding hope, what they are grateful for, where Christ is showing up in this muck.

  • Fail boldly. All of this is new, and it’s not going to go as planned. Internet will cut out, we’ll make goofy faces when we freeze up on Zoom, the awesome discussion or game we planned will fizzle. Give yourself permission to experiment, to fail…and to learn and try again.

  • Rest and laugh. This is hard work. It’s normal to be tired out at the end of the day. You’re not alone if you feel distracted, or have a hard time concentrating. Schedule breaks, eat well, and get outside (safely). The youth and adults in your congregation need you to be well!

  • Stay connected. Join one of the ministry check ins offered by the synod, schedule a regular time to talk with a friend, do your own group Zoom with colleagues…whatever fits best for you. This is not a time to be a lone ministry leader. We need safe places to share our own concerns, fears, weep over the stories we have been hearing, pray with each other, and find comfort knowing that we are not alone in the struggles that come with doing ministry at this time.

Whether you are a volunteer, paid youth worker, SAM, deacon or pastor – you are an essential person to your congregation and community, and especially in the lives of the young people you touch. Thank you so much for being there for them through this and for the long run. You matter to them more than you will ever know! God is at work in and through you, shining the light and love of Christ in brilliant ways!

Together in Christ,
Catherine Anderson
Coordinator of Youth Ministry
COVID-19 Resource Updates
This web page is for ministry leaders, parents, and all ages as you look for ways to do faith formation at home and online. Resources include coloring pages for kids, devotionals, videos for kids and adults, resources for discussions to hold online, Vibrant Faith's "Take Faith Home" handouts, a tutorial to using Zoom, and more.

This web page has resources for ministry leaders and parents on how to talk with children and youth about coronavirus and address their anxiety and grief, as well as tools and resources to care for your own mental health during this crisis.

I am updating these web pages daily with new resources. This week I plan to curate a list of games to play online with your youth groups. If you have found ones that work well, please email Catherine with the directions!

Email Catherine if there are resources you are looking for or if you have great resources to share. Chances are, others are looking for similar resources...or need what you have!

Resource of the day:
Online Check-In Meetings
(For Volunteers, Paid Youth Directors, Pastors...YOU!)

​Ministry has changed drastically, and the work you are doing to support youth and families is critical. Join other youth workers to support each other, share ideas and resources, pray and laugh together. 

Click on the date below to join the meeting through your computer/tablet/smartphone (this is a direct link to the Zoom meeting, so click when you are ready to join the meeting):

Or  c lick here  to sign up to receive an email with the link to join by computers/tablet/smartphone and phone number/access code to join by phone.

More meetings will be added in the coming weeks. If these times don't work for you and you would like to check in with someone, please  email Catherine  or call 218-724-4424, ext 124. You are not alone as we navigate these challenging days!

VLM and Luther Crest Bible Camps are also hosting online check in meetings for ministry leaders, 7:30-9:00pm, March 26, 30 and April 2. For login information, contact Joel Abenth at 218-780-2069 or Joel@VLMcamps.org
Mental Health Moment
Joy Hensel and the NE MN Synod Mental Health Initiative Team will be sharing thoughts with you each week to encourage, educate, resource and support you as you walk with the anxiety, fear, and grief of youth and adults, and care for yourselves. This week's words come from Joy Hensel...

How are you today? Yes, you, Really! As caregivers (ministry professionals, volunteers, parents, etc..) our days are full of listening, encouraging, supporting, comforting, creating, planning, preparing and tending to others. THANK YOU for all that you are doing and all that you are for so many! 
During rapidly changing and uncertain times, it is natural for caregivers to dive even deeper into the role of helper; it is what we know, what we do, what is comfortable and what is safe. As you care for others, I invite you to pause for a moment, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to care for, listen to and tend to yourself.

How are you today? Yes, you. Really! (Pause…deep breath)
 
It is not always easy to pause and tend to ourselves. When we do, a variety of feelings may surface: anxiousness, fear, anger, sadness, peacefulness, or hopefulness. Feelings can feel uncomfortable, especially when they are our own. Since beginning "social distancing," I have noticed a lot of big feelings surfacing throughout the day. In order to identify my feelings and my needs, and to be gentle and loving to myself and others, I remember to use the tool HALT:
H-ungry
A-ngry
L-onely
T-ired

When I feel any of those feelings, I can choose to name my feeling, physically HALT (pause or stop) and tend to my feelings or need(s). 

I can tend to my hunger by eating a snack or drinking some water. I can tend to my anger by reaching out to a trusted confidant, identifying my feelings and exploring the cause of my anger. I can tend to my loneliness by Skyping, facetiming or going for a walk. I can tend to my tiredness by taking a nap. There are many different feelings. HALT is a beginning, a tool that can help us identify some of our basic needs.
 
I CAN practice HALT and in doing so, I CAN pause and choose how I will respond to my needs today.
 
Friends, you are doing the best you can today and that is more than good enough! Thank you!!

Joy Hensel, MA, LADC, ADC-MN, Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor, NEMN Synod Mental Health Initiative Team
Weekly Youth E-Chat
While we learn to live with and respond to the coronavirus in our homes and congregations, I will be sending out Youth E-Chat every Tuesday morning with updates and resources for you to use in your congregations. If you have anyone in your congregation who would like to be added to this e-newsletter (it is a different database than our synod's Online Reflections/Announcements), please have them sign up here. You can also find previous Youth E-Chats on the Faith Formation Resources for COVID-19 web page.
Catherine Anderson | Coordinator of Youth Ministry | NE MN Synod, ELCA Catherine.Anderson@nemnsynod.org | 218-724-4424