The ELCA Youth Gathering is a prayerfully crafted, faith-forming experience for teenagers. The 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering will be in Detroit, July 15-19. To prepare for the five-day experience, congregational groups are encouraged to use six lessons called the “Getting Ready” materials. Gathering planners hope congregational groups start using the materials in January 2015. The materials will be available at the Gathering’s website.


Heidi Hagstrom, director for the ELCA Youth Gathering, says, “I think the Holy Spirit works through the ‘Getting Ready’ materials to till the soil of young people’s hearts, preparing them for what God will plant through the intense five-day experience of the Gathering. This time we are also investing in technology to heighten consciousness to faith discoveries after the Gathering.”


The first of six lessons will introduce the theological themes and narrative arc of the Gospel of Mark, the text around which the Gathering is being designed. Metaphorically, this lesson defines the lens through which young people will see what God is up to in Detroit. The theology of the cross will be a key theme for this lesson and the next.


The second lesson is an introduction to the theology of the cross. A significant learning outcome is that youth will learn why the theology of the cross is so important and will be taught how to use it.


Detroit’s history and culture is the focus of the third lesson. Many have said that the once great city of Detroit has irrevocably crumbled along with the auto industry. However, young people will be encouraged to wrestle with the question posed by Robert Reich, a former U.S. Labor secretary “Buried within the bankruptcy of Detroit is a fundamental political and moral question: Who are ‘we,’ and what are our obligations to one another?”


A significant quality of Detroit is the racial make-up of its population. More than 80 percent of Detroit’s residents identify themselves as Black. To prepare young people for this reality and context, another Getting Ready lesson will take what young people learned about the theology of the cross and weave it into an understanding of Detroit’s history, particularly around the issues of race.


Congregations not attending the Youth Gathering this summer can participate virtually. Morning and evening devotions, called First 15 and Final 15, will be posted online so parents and others can pray along with the youth in Detroit. Some congregations use the Gathering’s closing worship, which will also be posted online. Still others host live stream events from the Gathering for families and younger children.


Explore all the Gathering’s downloadable resources for preparing for Detroit.


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