Disrupted through Connection
The vision of the Network is to see a future where children, youth and family ministry in the ELCA flourishes and becomes ever stronger through Renewal, Education, and Connection.
I began working in youth ministry while I was a high school student myself. Some of my earliest memories
include working on a synodical youth retreat (Youthfest at Lutherlyn), serving on the Board of Directors as a youth representative at Agape Camp in Washington, Pennsylvania and spending summers as a lifeguard on staff at Camp Lutherlyn in Prospect, Pennsylvania. These experiences, and many others, helped me learn that the church was much bigger than my home congregation.
Many summers of camp, over a dozen synodical youth gatherings in Alaska and Montana, nine ELCA Youth Gatherings with a variety of volunteer responsibilities, three congregations as a pastor, and a whole bunch of Extravaganzas have only reinforced that understanding. We are church, together, because we are connected to one another beyond our own congregations.
One unique connection that the Extravaganza has provided me is the opportunity to get to know the colleagues who followed me at my first call, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wasilla, Alaska. The picture above represents 20 years of youth ministry leadership at that congregation, starting with me, continued by Ian McConnell, and now carried on by Luis Ochoa. Leadership that includes not only the congregation’s youth ministry, but also significant components of ministry across the state of Alaska, including a weekend gathering and a weeklong summer camp and staff training.
The Extravaganza was an important part of my nine years in Alaska because it helped me to know that I wasn’t alone. There were unique challenges to ministry in Alaska, but there were also many challenges that others were dealing with as well. I remember being welcomed by my Region 1 colleagues the first time I ventured “Outside” (that’s what an Alaskan calls leaving the state) to go to the Extravaganza. Friendships and bonds began to form that were strengthened by being together at the Extravaganza each year. The connections that were started in those early days are still a sustaining part of my ministry today.
If you’re an old-timer like me, you know the value of those connections and you’re probably already registered. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to register now for Extravaganza 2019 at the Early Bird rate of $280 to start making connections to other youth ministry leaders that will strengthen your faith, leadership, and ministry. Remember, there are only a few days left to register before prices go up after October 15, 2018.
Pastor Andy Arnold
Extravaganza 2019 Communications Team