– Beth Hartfiel

I remember my first Gathering as a youth. We were going to Atlanta. We’d never taken a big trip like this. We weren’t just leaving Texas; we were going all the way across the country. The hours we spent on the bus ride there and back were the start of lifelong friendships for me. When we finally arrived, I remember the amazement I felt walking into the Dome for the first Mass Gathering and the awe of being part of such a great cloud of witnesses during communion.

Several years later, I was taking my own youth group to a Gathering, which also happened to be in Atlanta. I was blessed to walk alongside them as they experienced the greater church in a way they never had before. From my perspective as a leader, I appreciated the wide variety of ways the Gathering ministry reached high school youth: through DAYLE (now the tAble) and MYLE events, through the Interactive Learning Area, and through the awe of Mass Gathering experiences.

When I was asked to be involved with the Interactive Learning Area for the 2009 New Orleans Gathering, I jumped at the chance. I was excited about the opportunity to help form this experience that was always so meaningful to my youth and to me. With the Interactive Learning Area in 2018, we are continuing to explore new ways for participants to express their faith in action and to offer them unique opportunities to recharge in the midst of crazy-long days. I especially love using different learning styles to help youth connect with others from their own home congregation, with congregations they’ve met at the Gathering, and with organizations that focus on sharing God’s love in unique ways.

I look forward to seeing how God is revealed through the partners and participants in Houston in 2018!