Lutheran Youth Organization

LYO Lutheran Youth Organization logoThe Northern Illinois Synod’s Youth ministry is coordinated through Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Center in Oregon, IL.

For more information on youth ministry in the NIS, contact Audrey Adams at 815-732-2220.


    Youth Gathering News - June 2017


    Volunteer applications are open! Love the Gathering but aren’t in 8th-12th grade or a group’s adult leader? Join us at the Gathering as one of our many volunteers. Be a part of the faith formation and transformation of lives for thousands of our young people.

    Learn more about our four volunteer opportunities and submit your application here!



    “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:14-19)

    In God’s eternal plan and wisdom there is a way to remove these barriers. This new humanity would no longer be many, but ONE believer in Christ. In other words, this was God’s plan for the unity of many into ONE new people in Christ.

    As each individual, congregation, ethnic community and language gathers at MYLE, we will celebrate our uniqueness, dive into Scripture, serve in the Houston community, learn from teachers and elders, spread joy in fellowship and, most importantly, worship the Lord who makes us ONE!

    To learn more about previous MYLEs, follow the event on Facebook and check out pictures from past events.

    The tAble

    The tAble (formerly DAYLE) will gather under the theme “You Belong.” A sense of “belonging” is not always a truth that the world and culture extend. We continuously wonder: “Where do I fit in?” “Why am I different from others?” “What gifts could I possibly bring?” And yet, we are reminded in Psalm 139, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” We are made – wonderfully – by the very God who names us and claims us as children. We belong to God! At The tAble: We believe in the promise that we all, and therefore, YOU, belong – to God, at Christ’s Table, within the church and within our communities.

    To learn more about the tAble, follow our new Facebook page!

    Webinar schedule

    Do you have questions about getting-ready materials, registration, interactive learning or other program areas? Not to fear, the Gathering is here! To help you prepare, the Gathering is offering monthly webinars focused on our different program areas hosted by our team leaders. Webinars will be held the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. Central time. Check out our schedule, sign up and mark your calendars.

    Handbook pro tip: Address fears and expectations

    Houston is a BIG city. We will be surrounded by 30,000 people. This could be your youth’s first time traveling from home. Will McDonald’s run out of food?

    These are legitimate concerns that your group may face while planning or experiencing the Gathering. No matter where you’re from, the Gathering will present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for you and your young people. The best thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone. You are part of an incredible network with resources to help you prepare.

    Find these resources in “The Official Gathering Handbook: Tips and tricks for adult leaders.

    The Bayou City

    Officially, Houston’s nickname is Space City. However, over the years Houston has been known by a variety of other names, such as Clutch City, H-Town and the Bayou City. Why the Bayou City? Houston has 10 bayous that flow throughout the city and the surrounding areas. Bayous are bodies of water that are found in flat, low-lying areas, and they are usually very slow moving. In Houston, these bayous play a vital role in trade and commerce that connect Houston with the rest of the world. Buffalo Bayou, which is Houston’s main bayou, is a driving force behind the Houston Ship Channel and the Port of Houston, the busiest port in the United States in terms of foreign tonnage. These bayous are also recreational hotspots and feature running and biking trails and concert venues, among other things. The Bayou Greenways 2020 is an initiative to connect all the bayous in Houston by a walking and biking trail to give Houstonians and visitors easier access to the many waterways that Houston is known for.


    Matthew 19:13-15
    Let the children come to me

    There is a story in Matthew 19 that I like to call the “Let the children come to me” story. I heard it a lot growing up. Off the top of my head, I could tell you that basically some kids came up to Jesus, but the adults told them to go away, and Jesus said, “Let the children come to me.” I could tell you that this story is obviously about how we’re all supposed to have childlike faith and that Jesus probably said something like “for the kingdom of God belongs to them.”

    So, I looked it up. And he did. The story is just three sentences long: Kids come to Jesus, and people are mad. Jesus says let them stay because the kingdom of God is theirs. And he blesses them. That’s it. I was a little disappointed. I thought I would find a little more wisdom. I thought that if I had heard this story so many times then there must be something more to it than that. Everybody knows that God loves children and that adults overcomplicate things. Am I overcomplicating this? Is that really it? Is this what’s supposed to “change everything”? It can’t really be that simple, can it?

    So, I reflect on all the ways I overcomplicate things. Questions that I have about why bad things like disease and disaster happen. Questions about heaven and hell. Questions about how we’re supposed to live. And I think back to that song for the kids: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And I know that I am not overcomplicating things. Things are not that simple. Because that statement – the fact that God loves me and loves every other person in the world – fundamentally changes the way this world works. It messes things up. It complicates things. It makes me ask questions. And sometimes it makes me confused, frustrated, angry or sad. But you know what? Children ask questions. Children get confused, frustrated, angry and sad. And what did Jesus say? “Let the children come to me.”

    – Tyler, North Carolina

    2018 Gathering timeline at a glance

    July 15, 2017 – Volunteer application closes;
                               financial assistance application opens
    Sept. 15, 2017 – Registration opens and early bird
                               rate begins
    Nov. 16, 2017 – Regular registration rate begins

    Feb. 16, 2018 – Late registration rate begins
    May 15, 2018 – Registration closes and all
    payments are due
    June 24-27, 2018 – MYLE and the tAble
    June 27-July 1, 2018 – ELCA Youth Gathering


    Leadership Lab 2017

    July 24 - 29, 2017
    Leadership Lab is a weeklong youth leadership training camp sponsored by the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Participants range in age from those just having completed the eighth grade to adults. Leadership Lab began in 1962 is held on the campus of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.


    "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."  -Joel 2:28



    To be an active LABORATORY, practicing church leadership for the future..

    We see a bright future for the Gospel of Jesus. However, in order for the 'church' to be a part of that future we need leaders who are looking forward more than they are looking backwards.

    That is not to say that the 'church' doesn't have a beautiful history and does! But if that history and tradition gets in the way of our ultimate calling from Jesus to spread, live and be the Good News, then we need to be able, willing and equipped to look forward beyond those traditions more that we look backwards and learn about them.

    The vision then is for us as a community of youth AND adults to be willing to look into the future and practice what that leadership...

    EARLY BIRD COST Before 5/10/2017 $360

    DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION Before 6/25/2017 $380



    Leadership Lab @ Augustana College

    (618) 201-7310

    639 38th ST - Rock Island, IL - 61201

    Mailing Address

    PO BOX 158
    Ava, IL 62907

    Find out more at


    Youth Gathering News

    Idea submission

    Do you know a great band, an inspiring speaker, fun games, service learning experiences, or just have some great ideas that you think that Gathering should consider? Well, we want to hear from you! Let us know your thoughts by submitting your idea through our website. These ideas will be sent off to our many planning teams for their consideration. There’s no idea too big or too small, we want to hear them all.

    Financial assistance

    Financial assistance is available for the 2018 Gathering. Please read the following carefully to become familiar with the process.

    • The application for financial assistance opens July 15, 2017, and closes when all funds have been disbursed.
    • Assistance is given based on the financial need of an individual and their family. Adult leaders should apply on behalf of their young person, using the same congregational ID number that they will use when registering for the Gathering.
    • Up to $300 per person will be provided. The amount will be seen as a credit to that person’s account upon registration.
    • Financial assistance is available only to youth participants.
    • In larger congregations (15 or more people), up to 10 youth per congregation may be given financial assistance.
    • Those who receive financial assistance should register within 30 days of receiving notice or risk having the funding removed from the congregational account.
    • Assistance is not available for MYLE and the tAble registration fees as those costs are already highly subsidized. Those attending MYLE or the tAble can apply for Gathering registration financial assistance.

    Please check with your synod office to see if synodical funds are available. Questions regarding financial assistance can be directed to

    Volunteer applications

    Would you like to volunteer at the Gathering and help our young people grow in faith and encounter Christ? Serving the youth of this church is a vocational calling that requires careful discernment. Every volunteer must agree to follow the terms of a volunteer code of conduct and submit to a background check by the ELCA. The volunteer application process opens on May 15, 2017, via links from our website. There are four volunteer categories: Local Volunteers, Community Life, Gathering Volunteer Corps, and Servant Companions. The responsibilities vary, and all volunteers (except Local Volunteers) must commit to being in Houston for one week. Volunteers arrive on Sunday, June 25, and depart Sunday, July 1, 2018.

    For more information on these opportunities, check out our volunteer registration page. You can also view our volunteer information webinar here.


    We have a few updates for you concerning transportation at the Gathering.

    • Transportation Management System, TMS, will be offering airport shuttles for groups of any size from the airport to their hotels. Costs will be $20 per person. Registration for this service will be available in the fall of 2017.
    • NRG Park will be offering free parking for busses with church names on them. All other parking will be $10 per vehicle per day.
    • Please consider subletting your bus. Partnership between the Gathering and our attendees will help us to transport everyone to our programming. Your generosity helps keep the Gathering rolling.

    Watch this message from our Transportation Team leader, Kim Adams, for more information on transportation at the 2018 Youth Gathering.

    The Houston Food Bank

    The Gathering is excited to announce that over the course of the Gathering, 2,970 students will have the opportunity to sort food, prepare meals, and prepare food bags as a service learning opportunity with the Houston Food Bank. The Houston Food Bank was named the 2015 Feeding America Food Bank of the Year. It takes in about 73 million pounds of food each year, and in 2015-2016, was able to provide 79 million meals across the Houston area. Most of the food the Houston Food Bank collects is sent to community food banks throughout the Houston area. We’re excited to partner with this important ministry and Houston, and share this experience with the youth joining us.

    The Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost: Acts 2:1-4

    How do we trust that everything is in the hands of a God we can’t even see? In a country and world more divided than ever, this passage is a beacon of hope for those despairing. In the preceding passages, the disciples, betrayed by Judas, are searching for a new leader now that Jesus has died and ascended into heaven. They seem to be wondering the same thing we are: What now? To continue their work, the disciples seek to travel and spread the good news and story of Jesus, however, they are separated by language. How can they transfer their message if they don’t speak the same language as people they are talking to? Just then, the Holy Spirit comes down, in “what seemed to be tongues of fire” and settles to a rest on their shoulders. Suddenly, they are all speaking different languages, yet they can still understand one another! As they go out to spread the good news in these new languages, many accuse the disciples of drunkenness, as it is impossible for these Galileans to speak so many different tongues. Again, doubt is confronted. The people in the Bible had doubts and so do we – we are all human. Today, how are we supposed to face doubts about our future when things seem so bleak? You see, when we are at our lowest, when we doubt the most, and when every door seems closed, the Holy Spirit comes down and beckons us toward God. By providing presence and hope, God changes everything.

    Erin Darnell, North Carolina

    2018 Gathering timeline at a glance

    May 15, 2017 – Volunteer application opens
    July 15, 2017 – Volunteer application closes;
    financial assistance application opens
    Sept. 15, 2017 – Registration opens and early bird
    rate begins
    Nov. 16, 2017 – Regular registration rate begins

    Feb. 16, 2018 – Late registration rate begins
    May 15, 2018 – Registration closes and all
    payments are due
    June 24-27, 2018MYLE and the tAble
    June 27-July 1, 2018ELCA Youth Gathering