Youth E-Chat: March 2, 2021
Dear Friends,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2
That is part of the text from Session Six of the Synod Journey Curriculum, “Nourished by the Living God.” Last week during the Ministry Leader Bible Study, the Synod Journey team read from the curriculum:
"For vineyard owners one of the most dreaded days is “pruning” day. The vines are full of rich, beautiful grapes. But in order to get more sugar and more flavor to impact some of the grapes so that they can be turned into good wine, countless amounts of good grapes have to be cut from the vines and dropped to the ground. This allows the remaining grapes to be all the more flavorful and delicious."
That image of good, healthy grapes being lopped off and falling to the ground has been stuck in my head all week. I attempt to garden, and every year I struggle with pruning. It takes so much work in our limited growing season for anything to grow…it goes against everything in me to cut off something that has life! It’s so counter-intuitive. Yet when I get the courage to do so, I have a much better harvest.
How many of us struggle in the same way in ministry? We labor in love to grow a program or new ministry…it goes against everything in us to prune out something that shows any sign of life. But what if we did? What if we used this year where we have been forced to change our rhythms, to take a hard look at what needs to be pruned from our ministries so something even better might grow in the future?
As the LYO Adults and I began discussing what would be feasible in this coming year, we asked some pruning questions: What have we learned this past year? What will be helpful for youth and our congregations this coming year? What will need to change due to COVID-19? What opportunities open up if we let go of what we have always done, as good and fruitful as that has been? Where is God calling us for this new season?
Three themes emerged from our conversation. First, research keeps telling us that young people…and adults…are lonelier than ever. One in three young people said they feel completely alone much of the time. Nearly 40% said they have no one to talk to and feel left out. Second, congregations often tell me they would love to develop high school leaders who could address the loneliness that impacts their peers, but they have no idea how to do that. Last, we need a plan that is flexible for the changes that may come due to COVID-19, and to fit with the busy schedules of youth. The more we talked, the more we knew we have a unique opportunity to address these needs by expanding what the LYO already does so well – building caring relationships, fostering community, and nurturing a faith that is sent out to share the hope and love of Christ. And so we made the hard decision to prune the fruitful work the LYO has been doing so that even better and more abundant fruit can grow in the future.
Let me introduce the LYO Leadership Initiative! This new pilot program for the LYO will equip Congregation Teams with Peer Ministry skills they will bring home to lead in their congregation. Peer Ministry is by far one of the best ministry tools available to equip people with skills for relational and caring ministry that reaches out to others. Some of the highlights of the initiative include:
  • Apply as a Congregation Team. Each team is comprised of at least one adult (max of 3), and up to 7 youth currently in grades 9-11.
  • Attend LYO Leadership Camp. There will be two in-person* options, and two online options. Leadership Camp will be only three days, rather than an entire week.
  • Lead Peer Ministry in your congregation/area. For middle school and high school youth, even adults!
  • Congregation Teams plan and lead the Middle School Gathering.
  • The LYO Planning Team – adults with years of ministry experience – lead the LYO Leadership Camp and oversee the planning for the Middle School Gathering.
You can read the full details of the new plan at
It can be difficult to let go of the life we currently experience in our ministries, to allow for new and more abundant life to take root. Yet this is the hard pruning work God calls us to. We will learn and grow this year in this new initiative, and continue to prune. I pray this new initiative may encourage and equip you in your ministry. And I pray the pruning work you are doing in your own ministries will bear abundant fruit beyond your imagination for your young people and congregations in the months and years to come!
Together in Christ,
Catherine Anderson
Synod Minister for Discipleship and Christian Community
*A note on COVID-19 and the in-person option for LYO Leadership Camp:
The NE MN Synod is working closely with Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry to make sure the in-person LYO Leadership Camp follows state and CDC guidelines, and keeps participants as safe as possible. Participants will be expected to follow guidelines put in place. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 and make adjustments as necessary. If participants have underlying health conditions or are in high-risk categories, we encourage you to apply for the online option. For more details on expected COVID-19 Safety Protocols, click here.
Synod Journey Curriculum
Now Available!
Session Six: Nourished by the Living God

Just as a tree is planted in and nourished by the soil, we are nourished by and live in the Word.

This curriculum helps us remember who we are and whose we are as we encounter the changing seasons of life. Use with middle school and high school youth and adults!

Learning Opportunities for Adult Leaders
Save the Date!
Plan-It Online!
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Plan-It is a one-day planning process to give congregations a framework to strategically plan their coming year. This year we will be holding this event online! There will be large group presentation, discussion and time to work on your own or in small breakouts to create your plan and calendar! Save the date - registration information coming soon!
Summer Camp Staff Needed
Our Camps Need Your Help!
Do you know a young adult with gifts for leadership and sharing faith who is looking for community and ways to serve this summer? Do you know a young adult who may have never considered working at camp, but with an invitation and nudge from you might have their lives transformed forever?

Our camps need our help to identify and connect young adults to a summer learning leadership skills that will last a lifetime! There are a variety of positions - counselors, canoe guides, kitchen staff, maintenance, health care, on site leadership and more. Who can you share this information with today? The links below will take you to employment pages!

Share the App!
Lutheran Outdoor Ministries has a new app for young adults to find the camp and position that is the best fit for them. Visit for information!
Camp SJ
June 27-29, 2021
Camp Onomia and Camp Vermilion
For Youth Currently in Grades 8-12 and their Adult Leaders
$100 per person

Camp SJ is an opportunity to gather with NE MN Synod congregations to be in community to play together, build relationships, and be deeply rooted in Christ Jesus as we process the year we experienced, naming our grief and being reminded of the hope we have in Christ. The NE MN Synod will provide the curriculum, based on this year's "Deeply Rooted" curriculum and creed. Camp Onomia and Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry will take care of the rest - registration, program structure, safety protocols and communicating with participants. The NE MN Synod is grateful for their partnership to provide this 3-day retreat at an affordable rate so high school youth and their adult leaders can be together safely for a fun and meaningful faith experience!

Youth Ministry Position
First Lutheran Church, Brainerd
The Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministry (DCYFM) is a full time position to provide leadership for the faith formation programs and activities for the youth, together with their families, in living their Christian faith. The DCYFM works alongside the staff, church council and members of First Lutheran to carry out the mission and vision of the church.

For questions, contact Dave Larson at 218-829-9552 or
Mental Health Moment
Network Meetings for Faith Formation Leaders
Every Thursday, 10:30am-11:30am
For Volunteers, Paid Youth Directors, Pastors

Network meetings are a time to resource and support each other in ministry. No registration required.

Login information: 
Meeting ID: 854 1177 6494
Passcode: 543063​
To join by phone: 312-626-6799
Catherine Anderson | Coordinator of Youth Ministry | NE MN Synod, ELCA | 218-724-4424