Youth E-Chat: June 2, 2020
Dear Friends,

I don’t have words for the grief and pain I feel for my brothers and sisters of color today. And not just from this week. In January I had the privilege of listening to leaders of color from the ELCA Youth Ministry Multicultural Initiative speak of their experiences in the church:
  • I heard stories of not being invited to the table.
  • I heard stories of not being heard.
  • I heard stories of blatant racism.
  • I heard stories of passive racism.
  • I heard stories of lifetimes taking the back seat to white privilege in the name of God.

#Tired is not only because of George Floyd. Our brothers and sisters of color are tired from a lifetime of fighting white privilege and power. Even (perhaps especially) in the church.

We can do better.
We can be better.

I certainly don’t have the answers. I feel myself dripping with complicity through my own ignorance and inaction in response to my white privilege. I don’t mean harm, but I do harm. In the words from a recent blog post by Rev. Ashley Elisabeth Bathe Dellagiacoma,

“I have to work every day, every hour to unlearn these ways that have seeped through society into my heart, mind, and body and counteract their influence over my actions. I do so because, not only is it moral and right, but as a person of faith I will otherwise miss entire swaths of God’s being and goodness revealed through people not like me. As someone set free by God’s grace, I can not be satisfied with the chains of injustice that hold us all down.”

So what do we do?

We can begin by listening to the experiences our brothers and sisters of color have in our world…and in our church. Listen to their pain. Listen to their wounds. Listen to how those of us who are white cause and perpetuate this pain. Listen without defending yourself. Listen with an open heart.

We can begin by learning and educating ourselves on structural racism, white privilege, and how those of us who are white are part of both. We are, in ways that are so embedded in us we don’t see them until we take time to educate ourselves.

And we can begin by having these conversations with our young people. Many yearn for the church to have these conversations…and find the church irrelevant when we don’t. Too many live in ignorance of white privilege and need us to help open their eyes to how God calls us to love our neighbor in the fullness of their humanity. In our affirmation of baptism liturgy we charge youth with the words to “strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” Youth need us to equip and empower them so they can faithfully live out this calling with their peers and in their communities.

I have listed resources to help you begin this work at www.nemnsynod.org/faithformationcovid . The list is not exhaustive, but it is a beginning. I will continue to add to the list with helpful resources.

I am so grateful for the challenging and painful stories I have heard from leaders of color across the ELCA. They make me uncomfortable. They tear me up inside. And that is good. I hope this week has made you uncomfortable, too. Because when we are uncomfortable we just might move forward in faith to take action for a lasting change…to love all of our neighbors as beloved children of God.

Together in Christ,
Catherine Anderson
Coordinator of Youth Ministry
For the summer months, I will be publishing Youth E-Chat on the first and third Tuesday each month. Weekly updates and added resources will be posted on the Thursday Online Reflections announcements, and timely updates will be posted on the NE MN Synod Facebook Group . The Faith Formation and Mental Health pages in response to COVID-19 will continue to be updated on a nearly daily basis.
COVID-19 Resource Updates
New this week:
  • Resources to understand and address issues of racism and racial justice.
  • Guidelines and resources as you consider returning to in-person youth ministry gatherings.
  • Relational Service Learning Experiences for youth and adults.
  • PASSAGE: A new online small group ministry from the ELCA Youth Faith Formation team for graduating seniors to connect with each other as they pass from high school to young adult ministries. Pass this on to your graduating seniors soon - registration closes June 7!
  • More VBS/Day Camp resources.

Featured Resources:
  • Discussion Guides related to COVID-19, to to use with youth and adults. Topics include anxiety, grief, coping skills, anger, stress/distress, and mindfulness.
ELCA Youth Ministry Network Updates
Connect Journal
The Network's Connect Journal has moved online, and is now accessible to everyone at no charge! This resource provides helpful resources for you in your ministry, addresses relevant themes, and introduces new ideas and thinking about the future of our ministry. Take a look at www.ConnectJournal.org!

An update on the status of the Network and Extravaganza 2021 from Todd Buegler, Director of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network:
Online Network Meetings
(For Volunteers, Paid Youth Directors, Pastors...YOU!)

​The best learning we can do for our ministries is to be in conversation with other ministry leaders. These weekly network meetings are an opportunity to learn from each other, support each other, share ideas and resources, pray and laugh together. We are better together!

Check-In meetings will be every Thursday, 10am, through June 25.

Login information for this Thursday, June 4:

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!
Upcoming Events for Adult Leaders
Reminder! You won't get a reminder of these events next week - register today!

Synod Journey/ELCA Youth Gathering Overview
June 9, 1pm, Zoom
Join the Synod Journey planning team to learn more about the new plans for this year’s Synod Journey . We will also share a brief overview of the ELCA Youth Gathering. A detailed online training for the ELCA Youth Gathering (how to register, housing and other logistics) will be held later this summer. This Zoom event will be recorded for those not able to attend. Click here to submit questions you would like answered. Click here to register.

Reframing Youth Ministry: Hybrid Youth Ministry During COVID-19
June 16, 9-10:30am, Zoom
As we continue to live into the changes and uncertainty that COVID-19 brings to meeting together, what does youth ministry look like for the fall? How might we offer hybrid opportunities - meeting online and in person? Hybrid youth ministry, and the opportunities and challenges it offers, will be the focus for this conversation that will include large group presentation and breakout rooms for small group discussions. All faith formation leaders - volunteers, paid youth directors and pastors - are invited! Click here to register!
Mental Health Moment
Psychology Today shares, " racism affects the health and well-being of millions of Americans. The evidence demonstrates that people who experience racial  discrimination  are more likely to have a range of health problems, including poorer mental health and a lower quality of life."

Click here for infographics and overview information of mental health issues in minority communities.
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 Catherine.Anderson@nemnsynod.org | 218-724-4424