– Molly Beck Dean

“On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson is certainly on the soundtrack of my life as Director of the Gathering. I do a good bit of traveling for the Gathering and my other work with Churchwide faith formation.

As you probably guessed, most of my travel is to the Gathering’s host city to meet with planning teams, hotels, city officials and partners. I also build into my travel schedule trips to different synodical events, continuing education conferences, and time with ministry partners like the ELCA Youth Ministry Network and Lutheran Campus Ministry.

If I’m honest, I have a love/hate relationship with so much travel. I have two kids and a spouse at home and leaving them on a regular basis, sometimes for extended periods of time, is hard. I also try to be fully present with whatever I am doing when I travel, so emails and to do lists back at the office tend to pile up when I’m on the road.

But I love the things I get to do when I travel.  Meeting with the various planning teams gives me such joy as I listen in on their faithful and dedicated dreaming, planning, and problem solving on behalf of the young people of our church.

Gathering staff are also the connectors between the teams.  It’s important that staff are “in the know” so we can share with others what each team is doing. Spending time with youth at synod gatherings and other events feeds my soul in real ways.

I’m a youth minister at heart, so spending time with young people and their journey with Jesus is a must for me in order to be the best Gathering Director I can be.

I also really value being with the people of the ELCA as we plan for and reflect on the Gathering. I want to hear about your Gathering experiences and memories, how we can equip you better for the ministry of the Gathering, and your ideas for the future.

Maybe I’ll be in your neck of the woods when I’m on the road again!