Skip to content
ELCA Blogs

ELCA Youth Gathering Blog

Gathering the Kingdom of God

– Rev. Brenda K. Smith

I went to my first Youth Gathering in 2009 not knowing what to expect. When I got there, I was in awe!  I have trouble making arrangements for ten colleagues to come and work with me on a project at the Churchwide Office;  how then do you gather thousands upon thousands of youth and adult leaders together for days on end?

I don’t know how it is done, but I do know that after my first experience, I continue to tell people, “You MUST to go to a Youth Gathering!”

Why go to a Gathering?  There were many things that impressed me:

  • The amount of preparation youth receive in discipleship before they come.
  • The array of learning opportunities that are offered.
  • The sensitivity to diversity offered by MYLE and The tAble.
  • Seeing adult leaders taking time from their hectic schedules to mentor youth.
  • Seeing the positive effect the participants can have on a city just by walking in the streets with their different colored t-shirts.
  • The bonding that happens within the groups that come together.
  • The fact that the Conference of Bishops comes and interacts to show to the world that YOUTH MATTER!
  • The opportunity for youth to hear from others on how Christ is making a difference in their lives.
  • The faithfulness and dedication youth demonstrate as they accompany someone in need.

One of the best reasons to go to the Gathering is to attend the evening worship service.  I saw thousands of youth and adults of all ages, races, ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and abilities gathered to praise God by singing and dancing and hugging their neighbor… and I thought, “I am experiencing the Kingdom of God.”


Rev. Brenda K. Smith is the Program Director for Faith Practices and Book of Faith.