Youth E-Chat: March 31, 2020
Dear Friends,

We certainly didn’t know this road we have found ourselves on, and we never would have chosen this path. But here we are. And the hope in the midst of it all is that we are not alone. Our God is walking with us, shining light in our darkness, taking all that has been turned upside down and helping us navigate to level ground.

This week a youth director reminded me of the handout in our Mental Health Wellbeing Discussion Guide on the “ Five ways to Wellbeing .” These are proven strategies to help our wellbeing which are even more important when we find ourselves on roads and paths not of our choosing:

  • Connect: Talk and listen, be there, feel connected.
  • Be Active: Do what you can, enjoy what you do, move your mood
  • Give: Your time, your Words, your presence
  • Take Notice: Remember the simple things that give you joy
  • Keep Learning. Embrace new experiences, see opportunities, surprise yourself

There are so many things we don’t have control over right now. Your youth and families are feeling that too. But these are five things that all of us have the ability to do in a proactive way. I encourage you to share this with your families as they wade in the waters of doing work/school/family life at home 24/7.

And I encourage you to do these for yourself. This list is what we already spend so much time doing in ministry, even more so the last two weeks. That's important. But my encouragement is you find moments to do these for you : connect with someone who is there... for you , be active in ways that are helpful... for you , give in ways that are meaningful... for you , take notice of the things that give joy... for you , and keep learning in areas that are new... for you .

You matter...for who you are, not just for your ministry. This week may you be refreshed in and reminded of the knowledge that our God is here for you...leading you, guiding you, giving light to your path, and giving you a level foundation that will hold you. You are not alone!

I am so grateful for each of you. You are in my prayers this week!

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.

Some of the resources added this last week!

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.

Some of the resources added this last week!

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!
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. 

Check-In meetings will be every Thursday, 10am, through April 30.

Login information for this Thursday, April 2:

You can also access the weekly link on the Faith Formation Resources in Response to COVID-19 page.

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
Mental Health Moment
Joy Hensel, Project Coordinator for the NE MN Synod Mental Health Initiative and team members 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 a conversation between Joy Hensel and Biz Sorenson, a school based therapist...
Joy: What are you seeing and hearing from adolescents about Covid-19?

Biz: Overall, the students that have a home, food, parents/guardians available to support them are reporting doing well, if not better than normal due to the removed stressors that come with school. If anything, the primary mood coming across is “annoyed” and they’re lacking structure and purposeful activity and feeling “stir crazy.” The students who rely on school as their primary support system are starting to report real anxiety, sadness, and anger about not getting to be at school, not being able to work, and missing those pieces that provide structure, support, and safety to their lives.

Joy: There seem to be so many resources “out there” to help during these new days. What do parents need to hear right now?

Biz: There are a ton of resources online. My main response has been normalizing the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, reminding parents they are NOT expected to be amazing teachers, employees, spouses and parents….I’m teaching the mantra “good enough is good enough.” I also am encouraging parents and adolescents to lower their own expectations of perfection and do what they can in the moment. One thing at a time. I focus a lot with both parents and students on what they have control over as opposed to the many things they don’t have control over. I also focus on the skill of radical acceptance.

Joy: When our lives and the world feel out of control, one thing at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time, can be a good and powerful reminder.

Biz: Yes. Radically accepting the reality and feelings that come with it while mindfully engaging with what is in their control is one helpful strategy. I also focus on reminding clients and families that this struggle is temporary. Seasonal. This is a season not a permanent state of being. I also am seeing the importance of allowing people to have grace for themselves and others.

Joy: What about those adolescents who already experience mental illness?

Biz: For students who already have mental illness it is all about going back to the basics of self-care. I use the PLEASE skill with clients. Treat P hysical I l lness(take meds), Balanced E ating, A void Mood Altering Drugs, S leep and E xercise.

Joy: What are some of your go to resources for these days that you are willing to share?

Biz: Remember, at this time, that therapists have openings for telehealth. It is a great time for individuals of all ages to get therapy. Also, I really like the tool, Living With Worry and Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainty

Joy: Thank you Biz!

Joy Hensel, MA, LADC, ADC-MN, Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor, NEMN Synod Mental Health Initiative Team

Biz Sorenson, MSW, LGSW School Based Therapist
Weekly Youth E-Chat
While we learn to live with and respond to COVID-19 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 | 218-724-4424