The ELCA Youth Gathering is like nothing else I have ever experienced. I have had the honor of walking alongside young people for over 43 years, including 35 years full time at Bethel Lutheran Church in Cupertino, CA.  We have always had a big emphasis on service and inclusion and the Gatherings have always been a large part of our rhythm.

Our youth group motto is “to provide a place where youth are loved and accepted with Jesus as our example.” While we are not very ethnically diverse, we celebrate a great diversity of gender identity and sexuality. We continue to encourage our congregation to be more actively inviting. My prayer has always been to have each Gathering participant understand that the Gathering would be incomplete without them.

For the 2022 Gathering, I have the privilege of serving as the team leader for the Tech and Talent team. This team manages all of the AV & IT needs throughout our venues in Minneapolis. We also manage all of the musical “talent” in all venues and in partnership with the Mass Gathering team. We have about 12 key team members and work with every other Gathering planning team.

The entire team is made up of servants who breathe hospitality and who are very competent at their tasks. We also really value and advocate for youth leadership from all of our stages and venues. 

This cycle we are hopeful about building the Gathering’s relationship with the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE). One way we hope to accomplish this is by having the MYLE house band be the host for our premier talent stage in the Minneapolis Convention Center. We are excited about creating a space where all truly feel welcome and that they belong.

Next summer promises to be a great Gathering and we are excited to discover all that Minneapolis has to offer alongside you. 

Tom Hoegel has been involved with youth ministry for 43 years. He currently serves as a Youth Director at Bethel Lutheran Church in Cupertino, CA. He is passionate about helping people live their dreams and is a firm believer that “grace wins!”