by: Kelly Sherman-Conroy, MYLE Team Leader
In October of 2019, the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event leadership team, including youth, young adults and adults, gathered at Luther Seminary to discern a theme for MYLE 2021. Before we began our conversations as a group, we took the time to learn about and understand the history of the land where MYLE will be hosted in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This was led by an effort from Healing Minnesota Stories, to bring healing between people of faith and the Native American people who call Minnesota home. Native people have suffered deep trauma over many years, losing their land, language and culture. While many people and institutions contributed to that trauma, it happened with the full participation of Christian churches. As Pastor Jim Bear Jacobs mentioned to our group, “We all still need healing, healing is doable, and churches have a role to play in healing.”
As leaders of MYLE we believe in the power of healing stories. Stories heal because they make invisible pain visible. The listener and storyteller are both healed by their acts. This was a needed experience for our team and our theme discernment. We learned that churches and all faith communities can play a key role in promoting and experiencing healing by opening ourselves to our own history and listening to the stories of Native people. Through the sharing and retelling of traumatic stories, we can create new positive ones.
And this is how our theme for MYLE 2021 was created. Made Free. Our stories, our experiences matter. And together as leaders, we want to be able to nurture community and inspire healing with all our MYLE participants, leaders and volunteers. We realize that our ethnic cultures are rich in community and family bonds. Made Free to me is an understanding that our MYLE community can be a pathway for healing and brings a time for celebrating the diverse expressions and many facets of our community which are woven through the Holy Spirit.
The scripture chosen for this theme says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” What this says to me is that the Spirit empowers us and when we feel empowered, things begin to happen. The soul is very much a part of the body, and the Spirit awakens our soul and gives us life. As a body of Christ, our soul is not fully complete unless the rest of the body is also in harmony. Together at MYLE, we emerge as a community to listen courageously and create Spirit-Filled relationships of healing.
MYLE 2021 is going to be a space that will inspire and create liberating relationships with all in attendance and beyond. We want to characterize these relationships by equity, difference, mutuality, communion, and oneness. MYLE aims to be an exciting Spirit-Inspired community, inclusive and accountable to all. Celebrating our cultures together we will literally be breathing Spirit into our own healing.
by ELCA Youth Gathering on January 23, 2020