Youth E-Chat: February 23, 2021
I share with you this week the latest blog post from the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Executive Director, Rev. Todd Buegler:

I noticed something at this year’s Extravaganza.

All of the themes for the different “main stage” sessions were really well received. But there was one that stood out: “Holding Grief.” The live chat during all of the sessions was very busy. But when this session started, and the speakers started doing their work to unpack the theme, share their stories and open their hearts, at first there was kind of a “quiet” in the live chat. Then it was followed by people entering words of affirmation: “Yes.” “Uh huh” “Absolutely” “So good”… and then people began identifying their emotional reactions. The phrase “ugly crying” was entered into the chat many times. Then at the end, there was a phrase that popped up much more often than I would have expected: “I didn’t know I needed this.”

I didn’t know I needed this. That is a powerful statement.

We have a cognitive understanding of grief. We know what it is to grieve, and we’ve all walked with people during their times of grief. However, we’ve all been, I believe, so connected and tuned in to the grief of others, that we have been unaware of our own grief. We have shelved it in favor of others. That is not, by the way, necessarily a bad thing, at least in the short-term. But if it goes on too long, then it begins to eat away at our own spirit. And we all know what it means when we are trying to fill the cups of others, while our own cup is empty.

Our grief is real. We grieve seeing people we care about. We grieve the loss of the programs, ministries, trips, camps, vacation Bible schools, retreats, classes, small groups that have been a daily part of our work. We grieve what COVID has done to our own lives and families. We have been isolated, and have been forced to learn new ways to be. If you have a family, they have been affected, and we carry that with us as well.

Some have had their hours cut, or have lost their calls altogether. Others have seen support systems wither up.

We have all experienced loss. And this session, “Holding Grief,” reminded us that we need an opportunity to grieve, to work through the emotions around what we’ve experienced.

“I didn’t know I needed this.” Sometimes, being given permission to grieve reminds us that as beloved children of God, we need to grieve. Because it is when we attend to our grief that we can be reminded of the gift of hope.

This session at the Extravaganza (and the other sessions as well) reminded me that we all need to find ways that we can process the emotions we experience because of the world in which we live.
  • Who is the trusted person (away from your congregation) that you can talk with?
  • How do you find ways to worship (instead of thinking about your “job” while worship goes on?
  • When do you pray?
  • When do you read scripture?
  • Who prays for you?
  • Who do you trust?

I am hopeful that you have answers to these questions. And if you do not, then I suggest that you find people and resources to tend to your spirit.

We are not meant to be alone. And the ministry of faith formation is not meant to be done in a vacuum. Find your colleagues and friends and covenant together. If you’re not sure where to look, start in the Network’s Facebook group. There are people there who experience what you experience and who care for your heart and your ministry.

Now we know we need this. Now we should all take steps to create space in our relationships to hold, and tend to, our grief.

God’s peace friends,
Executive Director; ELCA Youth Ministry Network
Learning Opportunities for Adult Leaders
This Saturday!
Faith-Filled Leadership in a Secular Age
Featuring Dr. Andrew Root
Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 9am to 12:15pm
This event will be held online. Free, registration required. Sponsored by the NE MN Synod Lutheran Men in Mission and the Lay Leader Network.
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
"Nobody inspires child-like faith like children...I finished each camp week wondering if
I had learned more than my campers. I wouldn’t trade my 2.5 camp summers for anything!"
Shannon Baker, former LYO leader who served on staff at Luther Crest Bible Camp.

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 are busy recruiting for summer staff, and like so many things this year, COVID is making it difficult. They can't be on campus engaging with potential young adults who have never thought of working at camp. With most camps closed last summer, returning staff have aged out in the two-year gap. 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!

Or visit for information to share with young adults on the benefits of working at camp, and to download the new app from Lutheran Outdoor Ministries to help young adults connect with their dream job at one of the outdoor ministry sites across the ELCA!
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.

Please Note: This Thursday we will gather for the Synod Journey Bible study for ministry leaders, "Nourished by the Living God."

Login information: 
Meeting ID: 854 1177 6494
Passcode: 543063​
To join by phone: 312-626-6799
New Resources Added
Faith Formation Resources:
Easter Escape Room from Teach Sunday School
Daily Replay, an Examen Prayer Practice Tool from Fuller Youth Institute
Mental Health Resources:
PowerPoint PDF of "Mental and Spiritual Health"
Catherine Anderson | Coordinator of Youth Ministry | NE MN Synod, ELCA | 218-724-4424