“Take heart, I have overcome the world.” Around 14 months ago the District sent out a video message announcing the cancellation of the Jr. High District Youth Gathering at Camp Windermere in Roach, MO. This was the beginning of a string of cancellations that have changed youth ministry in the Missouri District. Next came both the Jr. and Sr. High District Youth Gatherings in the Fall, in addition to all Lutheran Youth Fellowship activities being pushed off, when finally even the MEGA Gathering became virtual. The gathering was based on John 16:33 which says “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”– a perfect reminder through these times.

Jason Glaskey, co-chairman of the Jr. High DYG reflected on the cancellations and the new virtual format: “ To be honest, we were very disappointed that the last two Jr High Retreat cycles didn’t happen at camp. Gathering together as God’s people to hear His Word — to sing, to pray, to serve, to play — have been the identity of both our Middle and High School ministries. After mourning this loss for a time, our planning team remembered that the heart of the Retreats could still be shared. Jesus is present in His life-giving Word, and we have the technology to share God’s Good News of forgiveness and life in different, creative ways. In God’s faithfulness we take heart and move forward, knowing that He is with us, bringing peace in the midst of our trouble, because Christ has overcome the world!”

Looking back, with so many online programs and switching to a new format, we were just hoping to get over 100 participants. But, by God’s grace, more than 500 of Missouri’s Lutheran young people were able to connect and grow virtually together!