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Looking back…

by: Bishop Abraham Allende

In my time as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, I have been blessed to attend two ELCA Youth Gatherings – Detroit in 2015 and Houston in 2018. On both occasions, we worshipped, rejoiced, served, and celebrated God’s wonderful gifts of love, grace, and hope.

Each night at Mass Gathering, we heard powerful messages from a wide variety of speakers and sang a dazzling and diverse array of music from contemporary musicians. During the day each synod either gathered to worship together, went out into the community to serve in different sites around the city, or learned of the many ways the church serves around the world in Interactive Learning. 

The members of the communities where our young people carried out their service projects couldn’t stop thanking them, which was affirming for the youth. And it is through that service that they go out before others and proclaim God’s mercy and grace. 

In both Detroit and Houston, I came away with a renewed feeling of hope for the church. Being around these young people keeps me young. They are eager to serve and demonstrate the love of God by loving their neighbor. The many outreach ministries they performed brought glory to God. 

When we agonize about why young people are leaving church, we need to ask ourselves, what opportunities are we giving them in our congregations to offer their boundless energy and enthusiasm, their passion for the gospel? As adults, we are sometimes unable and often unwilling to give up control. God’s invasion of this world in Jesus is resisted by those who hold power, those whose lives are dedicated to keeping boundaries intact. The challenge is to avoid the temptation of refusing to let go of our sense of authority and denying youth of their willingness to serve.

Bishop Abraham Allende was elected in 2014 to lead the 162 congregation Northeastern Ohio Synod. He previously served the Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights, Ohio, and Iglesia Luterana La Trinidad, a Latino mission in Canton. Bishop Allende is a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico. A second-career pastor, he has held successful positions in the fields of education, broadcasting and as a professional baseball executive.

The Sound of Heaven Touching Earth!

– Chris Clay

Hello, I’m Chris Clay. I’m a lifelong Lutheran, born in Chicago. I grew up and spent most of my life in Atlanta.

I served at five of the last six Gatherings. In 2000, I “Danced at the Crossroads” in St. Louis, performing concerts with my band. In 2003, I was in my hometown of Atlanta to “Do Life” or “Ubuntu.” I was a member of the House Band in 2009 for “Jesus, Justice, Jazz” in New Orleans.  I was back in N’awlins in 2012 where we celebrated being “Citizens With the Saints.” I also served as a member of the House Band and as worship leader for “Practice Peacemaking” Day. In 2015, I served as the House Band Music Director in Detroit guiding the community to “Rise Up, Together.” Creating music for the Gatherings has been one of the greatest joys and honors in my life.

Each Gathering has been a beautiful place where I’ve created friendships and relationships with SO MANY people… people from different places, all walks of life, all colors, all generations. But here’s the BEST thing—even though there are vast differences and delightful diversity—there is an overwhelming sameness and oneness that I feel… and I hope YOU feel it, too.

We come together and share a common faith.
We come together and serve an AWESOME God by serving others.
We come together to listen and learn.
We come together to sing and dance.
We come together to WORSHIP and PRAISE!

One of my favorite praise songs I’m listening to right now is called “Spirit, Break Out” by William McDowell. A lyric in the chorus describes what I see, feel, and hear at the nightly mass gatherings:

Our Father, all of heaven roars your name,
Sing louder—let this place erupt in PRAISE …
Can you hear it?

THAT IS IT!  That’s what the Gathering has been for me—the sound of Heaven Touching Earth.


Lost, never found

Lost&FoundWhen I walked into my New Orleans hotel last night, William Wright (left) and Jacob Lucht seemed like an answer to a prayer. They were standing in the lobby with big smiles on their faces directing people to Lost and Found.

“Oh, it’s so nice that you’re doing this,” I told them. “Did many people lose things this week?”

They seemed puzzled. “I lot my hat yesterday,” I said. “Any chance somebody found it?”

Wright burst out laughing. I sensed that something wasn’t, well, right.

“You’re not really pointing people to a recovery area for lost items, are you?” I said.

“Nooooo,” Wright said and giggled. “Lost and Found is a band.” (more…)