Youth E-Chat: March 16, 2021
Dear Friends,
Last Friday I met with the Extravaganza team to begin planning for 2022. We dusted off the plans we had been working on for 2021 before we filed them away to pivot to an online event. To be honest, I had forgotten about the work we had done until I went searching for something else and found our notes from last year’s planning meeting. I was struck by how the foundation of our plans to equip and inspire leaders for ministry was still relevant. But the ways in which we need to develop those plans have shifted significantly.
This year has changed us, our youth, our families, and our ministries. It would be so tempting to dust off old plans and return to ministry programs as they existed before the pandemic. Some of those programs might be helpful. But more likely, they will fall flat if we don’t stop to consider what has shifted this year and what that means for ministry. How are we going to help youth process what they have experienced this year and make meaning of it? How do our ministries need to adapt to new realities? What opportunities does this new time open up? How will we listen to find out what is needed?
A year ago today I wrote to you as we went into lockdown, reminding us that:
“More than anything we are called to be the church for where we are right now and to be nimble for changes yet to come. As Tiger McLuen says, young people need to know they are loved, valuable, and not alone. I believe that’s true for all ages. And doing that doesn’t take a program. It takes you…and the entire community of faith-filled relationships.”
The same is true today. Our youth aren’t longing for programs. They’re longing to experience Christ through you and a community of faith-filled relationships. I encourage you to join us for Plan-It on April 15 or create your own intentional time of listening and strategic planning for the coming year. I believe this is a time of opportunity to move beyond our old, dusty plans in order to listen to where God is calling us to be church in new ways for this time and place.
Last year, I closed my email with the words below. I do so again today in gratitude for all you have done this year as you faced unthinkable challenges with relentless faith and love, and in hope for what the future will bring.

“Thank you for all you are doing, even as you are adapting to all these changes in your own lives. You are in my prayers. You are the right people in the right congregations at the right time. You are the light of Christ sharing the hope of God's love story in a world that desperately needs that love right now. God’s got you and your congregations as we do this sacred work together.”
Together in Christ,
Catherine Anderson
Synod Minister for Discipleship and Christian Community

PS. It has been a joy to share with you a weekly Youth E-Chat since last March. As I consider what is needed for this time moving forward, I will begin sending Youth E-Chat on the first and third Tuesdays each month (and occasional extra as needed) so I can focus my energy on developing the LYO Leadership Initiative, 2022 Synod Journey and other programs to support and equip you for ministry. 
Plan It Online!
Plan-It Online!
Thursday, April 15, 2021
9:30am - 4:00pm
Cost: FREE for NE MN Synod Congregations
($39 per congregation for others)
Registration Deadline: April 13

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!

You are encouraged to bring a team! Pastors, youth directors, volunteers - all those who help with the decision making and planning for the year!

Each participant must be registered to attend and receive the Zoom link!
LYO Leadership Initiative
Would you like to have a team of high school and adult leaders that are trained and equipped to lead ministry in your congregation?

The new LYO Leadership Initiative invites youth and adults from a congregation/area to apply as a Congregation Team to be trained in Peer Ministry Leadership skills. Congregation Teams will attend LYO Leadership Camp, lead Peer Ministry in their congregation, and help plan and lead the Middle School Gathering. Application deadline is April 14!

Learn more at!
Synod Smart Team Forum
Thursday, March 18, 7:00-8:30pm

The Synod Smart Team will share their thoughts on the most recent data on the virus, vaccinations, safe practices, etc., as congregational leaders look forward into the life, worship, ministries and activities of synod congregations.

This meeting is open to the general synod public. Pastors, Deacons, SAMs, congregation leaders, and members are encouraged to participate. To receive the Zoom meeting link, contact Pastor Rollie Bockbrader at
Power & Boundaries Training Opportunities
March 22, 12:00pm - 3:00pm
April 22, 9:00am - 12:00pm
Cost: $35

It is expected that rostered leaders in the ELCA participate in ongoing continuing education on maintaining appropriate boundaries in ministry. This workshop will address issues church professionals must be aware of and will also cover boundaries and social media usage. All Rostered Leaders, SAMs and Youth & Family ministers are encouraged to register and attend. Rev. Emily Carson and Rev. Dave Efflandt of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod will be the facilitators for the training. To register, click the links below to register for the March 22 or April 22 workshop. Space is limited, so register early! Click here for more information.

Monthly Ministry Bible Study
Summer Camp Staff Needed
Our camps need your help recruiting summer staff!

Why work at camp?
From Brett Amundson, Program Director at Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry:

"Working at camp is an experience like no other. You live with the people you work with which allows for some of the strongest friendships to be built. You inspire campers who often touch your heart more than you realize at the time. You get on the job training and professional development from day one. The camp environment facilitates and encourages skill-development and learning every day."

Share the links below with your congregations and young adults you know! There are a variety of positions - counselors, canoe guides, kitchen staff, maintenance, health care, lifeguards, cooks, on site leadership and more.

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.

March 18: Network Meeting
March 25: Monthly Ministry Leader Bible Study.

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