Youth Ministry

The 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.


    Bringing the Gathering Home

    Post-Gathering materials

    Our post-Gathering materials are ready! The Gathering shouldn’t just stay in Houston. It needs to be brought home and shared and lived. It’s too much a part of each of our stories to let it stop on July 1! These resources are designed to help your group think about how they will continue to live the amazing experiences, preached gospel, life-changing stories and radical hospitality and embody them in their lives. These sessions hold to the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering theme that was formed from concepts by Morgan Schmidt and our primary Scripture of Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Lessons will focus on radical hospitality, building conversations and voicing what you will live for. Download your copies from our resources today, and start using them with your group.

    Gathering evaluations

    Share feedback from your 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering experience with staff and leadership during listening sessions hosted in conjunction with various ELCA synods, ministries and networks.

    Aug. 3 – Pittsburgh, Pa.
    Aug. 4 – North Wales, Pa.
    Aug. 15 – Iowa City, Iowa
    Aug. 16 – Sioux Falls, S.D.
    Aug. 20 – St. Louis, Mo.
    Sept. 6 – Houston, Texas
    Sept. 8 – Santa Ana, Calif.
    Sept. 13 – Duluth, Minn.
    Sept. 20 – Seattle, Wash.
    Sept. 24 – Spicer, Minn.
    Sept. 27 – Minneapolis, Minn.
    Sept. 29 – Detroit Lakes, Minn.
    Sept. 30 – Madison, Wis.
    Oct. 1 – Chicago, Ill.
    Oct. 4 – Toledo, Ohio
    Oct. 9 – Asheville, N.C.

    In addition to these in-person evaluations, we’re offering limited space in an online “in-person” evaluation. These will be on the following days (all Central time):

    Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.
    Sept. 16 at 4 p.m.
    Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.

    Sign up for the online evaluations here. For more information on any of our evaluations, please email us at

    Communion ware

    Custom communion ware is made for every Gathering. For this Gathering, we worked with ClayThings! in Houston to create the beautiful sets we used in our closing worship.

    These sets feature our brand colors and our theme stamped in the middle. Each set was handmade and, therefore, is unique. For a limited time, you can have your own set to remember the Gathering with.

    Order your set from Old Lutheran today.

    Sunday offerings

    Our offering from Sunday morning totaled $261,226.43!
    It will be divided among three ministries: local (Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod), domestic (Prison Congregations of America) and global (Global new starts).

    Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.
    As a thank-you for being the host synod for the Gathering, we give a third of our Sunday offering to the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. This synod has hosted us before in 2009 and 2012 for our Gatherings in New Orleans, and we were so happy to work with the synod for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston.

    Prison Congregations of America
    Prison Congregations of America (PCA) is a ministry through which Christian congregations are established in prisons around the country. There are currently over 30 congregations that follow the PCA model of prison ministry, in which the "members" are people who are incarcerated, and the congregation is led by a pastor from the outside who is trained and accountable to the sponsoring denomination. The congregation, though denominational in sponsorship, is ecumenical and open to all who wish to participate. The pastor is supported by other congregations, that also take turns worshiping with the inside group. The strong inside-outside relationship is reinvigorating congregations across the nation.

    Global ministries
    We recognize that being the church together means being the church outside of the United States. With that in mind, we are raising up Global new starts as recipients of a third of the Sunday morning offering with the hope that we can continue to do God's work around the world.

    Still time to participate in ELCA World Hunger’s Global Farm Challenge!

    Thanks to your generous giving in Houston, we’re more than halfway to our $500,000 fundraising goal as part of ELCA World Hunger’s Global Farm Challenge.

    The Global Farm Challenge is a yearlong, youth-driven fundraising challenge to help end hunger and poverty. These gifts will be used to support ELCA World Hunger’s agricultural programs and equip communities around the world with livestock, seeds, tools, training and more.

    Thanks to generous friends in the ELCA, all gifts toward this challenge – including gifts from individuals and congregations – will be matched, dollar for dollar, until we reach our goal. Let’s not leave these matching dollars on the table! There’s still so much life-saving work to be done. Please help by donating today and inviting others to join.

    Want to see how your gifts are making a difference? The same 360-degree, virtual-reality video that 4,000 youth and adult leaders watched in the NRG Center is now online. Watch “Seeds of Change in Malawi,” and see how our church is at work in Malawi, where most families rely on their small farms for food and income.

    Find more videos, resources and information at

    Share your stories

    As you continue to debrief and share your Gathering experience, don’t forget about us! If you have any memories you would like to share with us, we want to hear them! Send us your stories, reflections and pictures to These moments help us see the whole picture of our event and inspire us while making plans for 2021.


    Bringing the Gathering Home - post-event curriculum

    Looking to process the ELCA Youth Gathering with your group? Check out the post-event materials: Bringing the Gathering Home.

    This 3 part curriculum is for you to use to reflect on your time at #ELCAYG2018 with your youth group!

    Download curriculum

    Download (PDF, 3.36MB)


    The Gathering is over. Now what?

    Now what?

    Upon returning home, youth leaders have the lofty task of transitioning their youth from the euphoria of the Gathering to the normalcy back home. Fortunately, we have a list of tips to ensure that the energy of the Gathering doesn’t get lost during the transition:

    1. Debrief: Start having intentional conversations to find out how your youth want to shape their post-Gathering life.
    2. Appreciate: Host a “thank-you” event to recognize volunteers who helped send your group to the Gathering.
    3. Plan: As you develop the upcoming year of youth ministry, consider Gathering feedback from your youth.
    4. Connect: Reach out to your synod and nearby congregations to find out what they are doing to maintain the post-Gathering energy.
    5. Regroup: Have a reunion to tell stories, share pictures and talk about the Gathering experience.
    6. Engage: Speak with your pastor or worship committee to find ways to integrate Gathering experiences into the worship service.
    7. Share: Ask if you can post youth testimonials in the church bulletin in the weeks following the Gathering.
    8. Repeat: If your group loved the Gathering, remind them that they can come again! As a participant, a volunteer or an adult leader. It’s never too early to start planning for 2021!

    For more tips and tricks to navigating post-Gathering life, check out “The Official Gathering Handbook”!

    Gathering numbers

    Curious about some Gathering numbers?

    ELCA Youth Gathering

    Gathering memories

    Looking to share your Gathering experience with friends and family? We’ve got tons of pictures and videos to help you share the Gathering story! Check out the albums on our Facebook page, as well as videos available on YouTube.

    Post-Gathering materials

    To help your group process the Gathering, we’re creating three post-Gathering lessons. These lessons will help you take what you learned and experienced in Houston and give you ways to bring that home – from sharing your stories to implementing change in your communities. These materials will be available for your group in our materials soon! Keep an eye on our social media for their release.

    Thank you

    Thank you to our Gathering sponsors: Mission Investment FundELCA Network of Colleges and UniversitiesStay Near the CrossCall To Lead Team, and the ELCA Federal Credit Union. The ministry of the Gathering would not be possible without partnerships like yours. We thank you for the many ways you were present with us for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering!

    Save the date:

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    G-News - Howdy Partner

    Gathering partners

    Curious who are partners are? See who we’re working with! Check out our Interactive Learning partners and the ministries that will be present during your Interactive Learning Day. You can also see the many partners in Houston that we’re working with for Service Learning at the Gathering. See all the great things the city is doing and where you might be going!

    Service learning webinar

    Did you miss our service learning webinar? On April 12, we were joined by the Service Learning Team leader, Jessica Noonan, as we hosted our webinar focused on all the work her team is planning for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering. Watch it to learn more about how to prepare, what to expect, what to bring, what to wear and so much more! If you still have questions or concerns, please email us at Our next webinar is our transportation webinar on May 10 at 7 p.m. Central. RSVP here!

    Airport shuttles

    April 27 is the last day to sign up for the TMS shuttles to and from the airport. The shuttles are $20 per person each way ($40 round trip).

    Check out the availability and take advantage of this great offer before it's too late!

    May 15 deadline

    Deadlines are approaching! Your final payment is due by May 15. Please make sure to print out your final payment letter in your account and send your check to the address indicated. May 15 is also your last day to send in your deposit for your housing. Check the housing letter in your Gathering account for information on how to send that to your hotel.

    Gathering for advocacy

    This month, our getting ready materials are gathering for advocacy. The Gathering will feature migration in Service Learning, Interactive Learning and post-Gathering resources. Texas is a hub of human migration from Central America and Mexico. There is an immigrant detention center close to Houston. As a church, we respect all human life and strive for justice and peace in all the world.

    At the Gathering, there will be opportunities to learn about human migration so you can make a difference in your community and beyond.

    Be sure to download our April getting ready materials to help prepare your group to learn more about advocacy at the Gathering.

    Stories to share

    We’re continuing to ask for your youth's reflections and stories to share on the big screen at the Gathering. Every two weeks we'll have a new prompt to reflect on. Submit your videos on Instagram by using the assigned # or DMing the Gathering (@ELCAGathering). Please save the videos! If yours is chosen, we will DM you with instructions on how and where to send your video.


    • Youth featured must be in 8th-12th grade.
    • Videos should be 3-10 seconds long
    • Post in the identified timeline
    • Use listed #s

    April 25-May 9 we're focusing on our sub-theme based on “The road to Emmaus – God's hope changes everything: Hope changes everything.” Share with us where hope is needed. #ELCAYG2018 #HopeChangesEverything.


    Remembering Donna Wiegel

    It is with the saddest of hearts that we share that our beloved colleague, Donna Wiegel, died on Saturday, April 20. Donna loved her family fiercely. She found joy in the sun at the beach. She was a champion for those on the margins. Donna loved the ministry of the Gathering and served as registrar and housing guru since 1997. She is already deeply missed. We ask that you keep her family in your prayers.

    Almighty God, your love never fails, and you can turn the shadow of death into daybreak. Help us to receive your word with believing hearts, so that, confident in your promises, we may have hope and be lifted out of sorrow into the joy and peace of your presence; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen.

    Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

    2018 Gathering timeline at a glance

    May 15 – Registration closes and all payments are due

    June 24-27 – MYLE and the tAble

    June 27-July 1 – ELCA Youth Gathering

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    Contact us
    Please contact us with your ideas and comments. Please forward this email to others who may be interested.
    Mail: ELCA Youth Gathering, 8765 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631.


    ELCA Youth Gathering - G News - April 10, 2018

    Rotation scheduleThe Gathering schedule operates on a rotation. All groups will rotate through our three program days: Interactive Learning, Service Learning and Synod Day. To see your rotation, check your Gathering account or our resources. Once you know your rotation, refer to our Gathering schedule to better plan your time at the Gathering!

    Stories to share

    We’re continuing to ask for your youth's reflections and stories to share on the big screen at the Gathering. Every two weeks we'll have a new prompt to reflect on. Submit your videos on Instagram by using the assigned # or DMing the Gathering (@ELCAGathering). Please save the videos! If yours is chosen, we will DM you with instructions on how and where to send your video.


    • Youth featured must be in 8th-12th grade.
    • Videos should be 3-10 seconds long.
    • Post in the identified timeline
    • Use listed #s.

    April 10-24 we're focusing on our sub theme based on Acts 8:26-40, Phillip and the Eunuch – God's grace changes everything: “In our surrender, grace changes everything."

    Share with us a time when you have felt grace. #ELCAYG2018 #GraceChangesEverything.

    Service learning webinar

    Save the date: April 12 at 8 p.m. Central will be our service learning webinar. Join us as team leader Jessica Noonan talks us through service learning at the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, how to prepare, what to expect and how to support our young people in this experience.

    Sign up for the webinar here, or join us on Facebook!

    Airport shuttles

    The deadline to sign up for shuttles offered by Transportation Management Services (TMS) is April 27. TMS is offering shuttles from the airport to your hotel on June 27 and shuttles from NRG Park to airports on July 1. Shuttles are just $20 per person ($40 round trip). Take advantage of this great transportation option, and sign up today.

    Do the TMS shuttle times not work for your group? We have a discount code with Super Shuttle! See our resources for more information.

    May 15

    Please remember, final payments for the Gathering are due May 15. Please download the payment letter in your account and send one final check to the address indicated. If you have questions or concerns about your final payment, please email

    2018 Gathering timeline at a glance

    May 15 – Registration closes and all payments are due

    June 24-27 – MYLE and the tAble

    June 27-July 1 – ELCA Youth Gathering