There’s an energy that comes when young people come together for worship and the Word of God. At the recent National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis, MN, thousands of high schoolers came together from all over the world. According to the LCMS website, “More than 20,000 youth and adults from all 35 districts and 13 countries joined together in Minneapolis in July 2019 for the 14th triennial LCMS Youth Gathering.”
While the National Youth Gathering occurs every three years, the Missouri District offers programming each year for both junior and senior high school students. These events provide a much needed respite from the day-to-day pressures that many of our youth navigate constantly. School and athletic obligations, combined with the ups and downs of social relationships can weigh students down, making it hard for them to maintain a healthy spiritual walk with the Lord.
Mark Engelhardt, Director of Christian Education (DCE) at Our Savior Lutheran Church in St. Charles, says that it’s in the social relationships where he really sees the impact of the junior and senior high youth gatherings last over time. With the gatherings scheduled in the Fall, they work nicely with typical programming like confirmation classes to help the students really get to know each other. Then they have a more solid circle of friends who share their faith as they go back to school. The education of the catechism and scripture are valuable, too, but when they come away with stronger relationships, that helps every aspect of their faith formation.
DCE Engelhardt hopes his congregation can capitalize on the momentum of the National Youth Gathering for the upcoming senior high retreat. For Junior High kids, their district youth gathering includes a unique opportunity to be connected to the National Youth Gathering, which was only open to high school students. Bread of Stone, the same band that played for the throngs of LCMS teens in Minneapolis, will be performing.
In addition to Bread of Stone, Sarah Salzberg will be one of the speakers. She teaches Old Testament at Orange Lutheran High School in Orange County, CA and DCE Engelhardt notes that she’s always had a very strong rapport with the students, who enjoy listening to her talks. The theme for the Senior High Youth Gathering is Fantastic Truths and Where to Find Them. You can still register your group for the Senior High event until Nov. 11 by going to mo.lcms.org/event/2019-fall-sr-high-youth-gathering/