*

Inside, they saw a huge purple cross hanging over the center stage area. Cross

*

*

They danced to the music, some racing to the main floor to form conga lines. conga

*

*

Kaitlin Smith, 14, of Whitewood, S.D., preferred to watch. It was her first Youth Gathering and she felt a bit shy, though she liked what she was seeing and hearing. "It's great," she said. "I thought they were going to make us sing hymns."

Kaitlin

*

*

Emilie Wake, 15, of North Freedom, Wis., said she "was really emotional" when she walked into the Superdome. She was overwhelmed at the sight of so many Lutheran teens gathered in one setting. Wake said she isn't a go-to-church-every-Sunday sort of girl, but the Youth Gathering was helping her look more deeply at her faith. "I'm excited," she said. Emilie

*

*

Alexandra Smith, 17, of Phoenix, Ariz., said she couldn't wait to see what would happen at her first Youth Gathering event.  "I can hardly believe that I'm here," she said. "It seems awesome." Alexandra

*

*

(Left) Mike Stott, 47, of Greendale, Ind., came to the Youth Gathering with his son. "It's about what I expected," he said of the loud rock music. "I'm pretty tired tonight. Trying not to fall asleep." Wearing earplugs and seated next to Stott is Pastor Jeremy Russell of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Greendale, Ind.  "I'm glad we're here to help the people of New Orleans," he said. "The church should be here." Indiana

*

*

Here's another first-timer at the Youth Gathering. She's Caitlin Haley, 16, of Millersburg, Penn. "It's really cool," Haley said. "I'm excited." Caitlin

*

*

The soulful prayers seemed to move everybody. Prayer

*

*

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Super youth

Posted on July 24, 2009 by Heidi Hagstrom

On on the opening night of the 2009 Youth Gathering, Lutherans streamed into the New Orleans Superdome.

Entry

*

They tried various ways to keep from getting separated.

FollowMe

*

*

Inside, they saw a huge purple cross hanging over the center stage area.

Cross

*

*

They danced to the music, some racing to the main floor to form conga lines.

conga

*

*

Kaitlin Smith, 14, of Whitewood, S.D., preferred to watch. It was her first Youth Gathering and she felt a bit shy, though she liked what she was seeing and hearing. “It’s great,” she said. “I thought they were going to make us sing hymns.”

Kaitlin

*

*

Emilie Wake, 15, of North Freedom, Wis., said she “was really emotional” when she walked into the Superdome. She was overwhelmed at the sight of so many Lutheran teens gathered in one setting. Wake said she isn’t a go-to-church-every-Sunday sort of girl, but the Youth Gathering was helping her look more deeply at her faith. “I’m excited,” she said.

Emilie

*

*

Alexandra Smith, 17, of Phoenix, Ariz., said she couldn’t wait to see what would happen at her first Youth Gathering event.  “I can hardly believe that I’m here,” she said. “It seems awesome.”

Alexandra

*

*

(Left) Mike Stott, 47, of Greendale, Ind., came to the Youth Gathering with his son. “It’s about what I expected,” he said of the loud rock music. “I’m pretty tired tonight. Trying not to fall asleep.”

Wearing earplugs and seated next to Stott is Pastor Jeremy Russell of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Greendale, Ind.  “I’m glad we’re here to help the people of New Orleans,” he said. “The church should be here.”

Indiana

*

*

Here’s another first-timer at the Youth Gathering. She’s Caitlin Haley, 16, of Millersburg, Penn. “It’s really cool,” Haley said. “I’m excited.”

Caitlin

*

*

The soulful prayers seemed to move everybody.

Prayer

*

*

Then, too soon, it was time to head back to the hotels.

Heading home

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