by Claire Embil
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as one of the Gathering Hosts for the 2021 ELCA Youth Gathering in Minneapolis, MN. This will be my third Gathering and I can’t wait! I went to the 2015 Gathering with my home church as a participant, and in 2018 as a volunteer with Lutheran Campus Ministry. In Houston, I helped lead youth through building house frames during their Interactive Learning day. Each Gathering has been different and brought something new to my faith. I am so excited to see what God and the Gathering teams have in store for each of us in 2021 and in these next 16 months leading up to it.
I am currently a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison double majoring in English-Creative Writing and Religious Studies with a minor in Photography, mainly digital but I do some film work. After college, I plan to go on to seminary and become an ordained pastor in the ELCA. Outside of school, I spend time serving with Lutheran Campus Ministry, ELCA Young Adult Leadership Team, and Lutheran Student Movement. When I’m not studying or doing church activities, I enjoy attempting to learn to play guitar, traveling (I’m currently at 28 out of 50 states), and I am also a competitive gymnast.
It was actually in the exhibit hall space for Interactive Learning in Houston that I finally stopped running from God’s call for me. The Association of Lutheran Church Musicians had a section set up for youth to go through stations of some of the parts of worship. This included a station for dress up. I wanted to try on the vestments and take a picture behind the altar. I stood up all dressed in Green for Ordinary Time, and it hit me. There is a very distinct sound that can be heard when a gong is rung. This feeling that hit me was just like that except I was the gong. I could feel something resonate in my entire being, and I knew that God had a call for me that would change everything. I found my place in the world at Gatherings and I can’t express enough how grateful I am to get to participate again in a ministry that completely transformed my faith twice over.