Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2015 ELCA Youth Gathering

Youth from Bethany and Grace had a great trip to the Youth Gathering in Detroit, where, with 30,000 other Lutherans they got to fellowship, engage in worship, Bible Study, and play, got to hear from speakers (such as Marian Wright Edelman), hear some music from talented Christian artists (such as Lost and Found, Agape, Blanca, and Skillet), sing and dance with 30k other people as some of the original Temptations gave us a musical tour of Motown, engaged in service on the streets of Detroit, and got to see our Presiding Bishop preach and celebrate the Eucharist for a crowd of 30,000.

Here are pictures from our trip!

On the road:


Opening Worship, Wednesday evening:
We worshiped in Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play football
The youth got to hear our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton address them as she welcomed the assembled group of 30,000 Lutherans to Detroit
Throughout the Gathering, people used the hashtag #RiseUpELCA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and it trended on all three over the week.

trending on Facebook
 Our Proclaim Community Day, where we got to spend the whole day in the COBO Center, where there were lots of games, stations, and informational activities, all designed to promote community through the cross with our individual groups and the world at large.
* COBO Center is where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first gave his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The boys standing outside COBO Center, with Canada behind them.
At the "indoor playground" in COBO Center - these benches will be placed around Detroit with messages of God's love written all over them.
In a station called disABILIcity, where participants experienced a brief glimpse of what it is like to have a disability.
Ultimate Frisbee team with some new friends from Wisconsin
Ultimate Frisbee strategy
Ultimate Frisbee
making bookmarks for their new Bibles
picking out costumes for a photo booth session
We found our new Bishop and former Grace pastor, Tim Smith!
Walking on the streets of Detroit
With the "Spirit of Detroit" statue, who holds in each hand the symbols of God and family
The theme of the Gathering was "Rise Up Together"
Reunited with a former vicar - now a pastor in Minnesota: Michael Beery
See all the colored T-shirts?  The look of so many colors together became known on Twitter as a "Skittles Explosion"

Our Proclaim Justice Day, where we got to go out in our orange T-shirts on the streets of Detroit in service to the community.  Our group worked on boarding up and cleaning up abandoned houses.  In the economic downturn, around 1 million people left Detroit, leaving only 700,000 residents, and lots of empty houses, which invite wildlife and criminal activity.  We helped to make the neighborhoods a little safer, led by some local community action groups in Detroit. 

It rained that morning while we were waiting to ship off in our buses, and we thought we were in for a wet day of service.

Luckily it soon let up, and we had great weather for working outside - mild and overcast.

Preparing to board up houses
Nearly all the houses on the right side of the street were abandoned

Clearing out a massive grapevine


Clearing trash and debris

Our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton - she didn't work in our group, but she was out there on the streets too

 On Friday night we got a treat - two of the original Temptations joined by two other original Motown artists SURPRISED the gathering with their appearance.  They gave us a musical tour of Motown, including Temptations, Supremes, and Jackson 5.  They truly brought the house down, and had all 30,000 people on their feet singing and dancing!

Click here to see the performance by the Motorcity Allstars, made up of a Capital, a Miracle, and two Temptations.

Our Proclaim Story Day.  In the morning we had some free time for more group bonding.  Then, in the afternoon, we met up with the 700 other people from the NC Synod and had a massive group Bible Study, followed by worship. 

Our youth donated generously to the ELCA Walk for Water, which was being matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000.  With what was raised at the Gathering, plus the matching dollars, over $625,000 was raised in 4 days.

making hats for citizens of Detroit for the next winter season

lots of murals were created to go on abandoned buildings to help beautify the city

floor hockey fun

Bible Study with 700 Lutherans from NC Synod
At the end of worship, we all huddled around and extended a hand of blessing on both our Retiring Bishop Bolick, and our Bishop-elect Tim Smith.

We got to sit on "the floor" Saturday night
Sitting on "the floor" means you get to join in the conga lines
Keynote speaker Marian Wright Edelman - an activist from the Civil Rights Movement, and President and Founder of the Children's Defense Fund

Concert by Skillet - a Christian Heavy Metal band

Closing Worship with Holy Communion for 30,000 people 
Presiding Bishop Eaton preached and presided at the Eucharist
Singing the theme song "Rise Up, O God" for the last time.

A behind-the-scenes look at what preparing Communion for 30,000 people looks like

A special thanks to the City of Detroit for hosting, and for all the people who planned this event!

The Gathering was covered by several news outlets.  You can find examples by clicking here, here, and here.  And this one entitled "Why Downtown Detroit Looks like a Skittles Factory Exploded."

You can also find official videos and pictures of the Gathering on the ELCA site here.