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.


    Gathering News - October 2017


    Gathering registration is open!
    We have over 10,000 participants registered with more than 750 congregations represented. Make sure you register your group soon to be eligible for our Gathering Giveaways.

    In October, we will be drawing from our registered congregations for a chance to win a meet-and-greet with a Mass Gathering band, a meet-and-greet with Presiding Bishop Eaton, one free Gathering registration, and your choice of seating at one of our Mass Gatherings!

    MYLE webinar and save the date for tAble webinar

    What is MYLE? The Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) is a pre-event to the Gathering. It empowers young people of color and those whose primary language is other than English to claim their story as a part of God's story. MYLE 2018 will be June 24-27. Join us on Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. Central for our MYLE webinar to learn more about MYLE and the theme for 2018, “One,” based in Ephesians 2:14-19. Sign up.

    Be sure to also mark your calendar for our tAble (formerly DAYLE) webinar, coming up on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. Central!

    Blast Off for Books

     The Gathering has recognized the need to lift up literacy in Houston. The Houston Independent School District estimates that 74 percent of the students in the district come from families who struggle to provide books for their children.

    In joining the Gathering's Blast Off for Books campaign, you will help ensure bright futures for Houston’s students. The books you donate will be distributed at community book fairs, camps and other events around the city as part of the Gathering’s Service Learning experience. By putting books in the hands of Houston’s economically disadvantaged students, you can help change lives.

    Please see our flyer for a list of books we will be collecting for the children of Houston. Note that we will only accept these books (new or lightly used). You can also check out our Amazon wish list for those who can’t join us at the Gathering but want to send books! Please send books to:

    Faith Lutheran Church
    Attn: ELCA Youth Gathering
    Blast Off for Books
    4600 Bellaire Blvd.
    Bellaire, TX, 77401

    Emcee auditions

    Are you ready to live your faith out-loud? Can you be a witness for Jesus? Imagine welcoming 30,000 high school students, just like yourself, to NRG Stadium for the ELCA Youth Gathering. The Mass Gathering Team is searching for creative and talented Lutheran teens and young adults to be emcees for the Gathering. If you will be between the ages of 15 and 22 in July 2018 are available May 28-June 2 and June 23-July 1, please download our emcee application and submit your audition!

    Synod Coordinator

    One of the best resources for your congregation during the months spent planning for the Gathering is your Gathering synod coordinator. People with Gathering experience have been chosen by each synod to serve in this capacity. They are field workers for the Gathering and will be the first to have the answers to your questions! Connect with yours to find other congregations that are traveling to Houston or to attend a training meeting.


    Choosing to be a sponsor or Interactive Learning partner for the Gathering means investing in the faith formation of the youth. It means saying that you care. It means showing the youth that there is a place for them in the church. It means walking alongside the youth on their faith journey.

    Missional sponsor, $30,000
    Full-page ad in the Gathering Guidebook
    Pre-Gathering promotion
    Choice of one of the following:
    ● Video highlighting your ministry shown from Mass Gathering stage
    ●  Service Learning After-Party
    ●  Your logo on the Gathering wrist band

    Accompanying sponsor, $15,000
    Full-page ad in the Gathering Guidebook
    Pre-Gathering promotion
    Choice of one of the following:
    ●  Your video shows before livestream content for one day
    ●  Community Life stages
    ●  Mass Gathering seating section

    Sustaining sponsor, $10,000
    Half-page ad in the Gathering Guidebook
    Pre-Gathering promotion
    Choice of one of the following:
    ●  Your logo on transportation magnets for 100 vehicles in Gathering fleet
    ●  Floor decals (8) with your logo in Interactive Learning
    ●  MYLE or the tAble meal
    ●  Logo on Service Learning vests
    ●  Volunteer training meal

    Supporting sponsor, $5,000
    Half-page ad in the Gathering Guidebook
    Pre-Gathering promotion
    Choice of two of the following:
    ●  Floor decals (4) with your logo in Interactive Learning
    ●  Snapchat filter
    ●  Pre-Gathering webinar

    Contributing sponsor, $2,000
    Half-page ad in the Gathering Guidebook
    Pre-Gathering promotion
    Choice of one of the following:
    ●  Snapchat filter
    ●  Pre-Gathering webinar

    For more information, check out our sponsorship brochure.

    2018 Gathering timeline at a glance

    July 15, 2017 – Financial assistance application opened
    Sept. 15, 2017 – Registration opened and early bird rate began
    Sept. 15, 2017 – Emcee applications opened
    Nov. 15, 2017 – Emcee applications closes
    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



    2018 Gathering Registration Opens

    Be ready when you log in with the information needed to enter your participants, but know that you will be able to go back in to update data as needed. In fact, one question I've been asked is:
    Can I still add additional participants before the November "early-bird" deadline, if families change their mind and decide to send their youth?   
    There are some "Gathering Giveaways" or incentives, designed to get congregations to register early. So registering now helps you access those incentives, and as long as you still enter any additional participants before the November 15th price increase, you'll get the same rate for the later entries.
    Is Houston REALLY going to be ready for us?
    Here's a link to a locally written article about the recovery happening in Houston already
    What about housing? When will we know where we are housed?
    A couple things:
    1. Synods will be housed together
    2. Registrants prior to November 15 have a better chance of being housed with their synod
    3. Housing assignments will be announced prior to the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Event, scheduled for Houston in late-January, IF you register before November 15.
    4. Housing is assigned by the Gathering Office, BUT...
    5. You secure your housing, the number of rooms, and who is assigned to what rooms, after you receive your assignment, by contacting the hotel directly with a credit card number to hold your rooms. (Don't worry about this until assignments come out in late-January or early-February of next year.)

    Youth Gathering News - September 2017


    As the sun starts to shine again in the Houston area, people, businesses and churches start the initial wonderings and workings of thinking what’s next. Many of you have asked questions and shown concern about Houston and the Gathering.

    Here's what we know now:

    • The 2018 Gathering is on! Registration opens Sept. 15.
    • The Gathering WILL happen in Houston.
    • NRG Park did not sustain damage.
    • Water is receding from downtown and other areas.
    • The hospitality/tourist industry is one of the first to bounce back after storms like this.
    • We will continue to walk alongside the people of Houston and help in the ways they need us most.

    Here's what we don't know yet:

    • How many of our hotel properties sustained damage and to what extent. We will start reaching out to our hotels next week. We are expecting that most damage will be limited to the first floor and that hotels will be able to accommodate us in June.
    • How this will affect our Service Learning opportunities. Our Service Learning team leader and Project Manager are Houston residents and will continue to work with partners in the city so that we can journey with the people of Houston and do the work they need us to do.

    Here's what we are hoping for:

    • That the ELCA shows up in a big way next summer in Houston.
    • That you donate money to Lutheran Disaster Response.
    • That you pray for all those along the Gulf Coast that will have to rebuild their lives after this storm.


    Registration for the Gathering opens Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. Central!
    When registration opens, the primary adult leader will log in to the system via the congregational ID number and an email address and enter the information for each registrant. These two basic things – the congregational ID and the email address – become the key to accessing Gathering information for congregations. Housing assignments will be posted here and congregational payments will be applied as they come in, so you can always log in to see what your balance due is. All balances must be paid by May 15, 2018, before you arrive in Houston.

    How should you be preparing?

    1. Hold an informational meeting with your youth and parents.
    2. Hand out registration worksheets.
    3. Start putting together your fundraising plan and payment plans.
    4. Identify adult leaders for the Gathering.
    5. Register for the 2018 ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza (which will be in Houston!).
    6. Start collecting registrations and deposits.
    7. Know your congregational ID number.

    Registration costs

    Registration costs are dependent on when you register. Early bird registration, Sept. 15-Nov. 15 is $350. Regular registration, Nov. 16-Feb. 15, is $390. Late registration, Feb. 16-May 15, 2018, will be $440. A $150 non-refundable, per person deposit is due at the time of registration and must be postmarked within the rate range you expect to pay. Registration fees are the same for youth and adult leaders.

    Registration worksheets

    Registration worksheets are available on our resources page. You can distribute these worksheets to your youth and adults who will attend. This is a great way to have all the information you’ll need to register in one spot! Please take advantage of this great resource.

    Registration webinar:

    Join us on Sept. 14 (the night before registration opens!) for a webinar hosted by the Gathering’s own Donna Wiegel! She will be walking through the registration process and answering any questions you have! Sign up.

    Registration incentives

    Register during early bird registration and you not only get a lower registration rate, your congregation will be eligible to win some great prizes! Every Friday at 12 p.m. Central, the Gathering will select a registered congregation to win one of the following opportunities:

    Getting Ready materials

    Have you gotten your Getting Ready materials yet? Download your copy of this great resource today! The Gathering’s Getting Ready resources are based on group building, Bible study and faith-based conversation for use with congregational groups before and after the Gathering. Twelve lessons will be developed – nine for use in the months leading up to the Gathering and three for taking your experience home. Eight of the nine pre-Gathering lessons are available now! The ninth lesson will be for use in the final weeks leading up to the Gathering. Because it will contain last-minute details, it will not be posted until the spring of 2018. The three post-Gathering lessons will be available shortly after the Gathering. It is our goal to create most of the Getting Ready curriculum with themes that could be used for your entire youth ministry group, not just those attending the Gathering.

    Houston reflection

    As we continue to pray for Houston and the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, here’s a reflection from Cody Miller, Houston resident and ELCA Youth Gathering’s Service Learning Project Manager:

    On Tuesday, Aug. 29, rain started to let up and streets and highways started to drain. Houston’s main downtown convention center, George R. Brown, was opened for evacuees to seek shelter. I went early that morning to see how I could help, as did thousands of other people. We saw acts of heroism from regular citizens with their boats rescuing stranded people. I got emotional again. It was incredible to see stranger helping stranger, neighbor helping neighbor, and people helping people.

    2018 Gathering timeline at a glance

    • July 15, 2017 – Financial assistance application opened
    • 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