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ELCA Youth Gathering Blog

Proclaiming Community

– Chiane Hill

My name is Chiane Hill and my message will be about Proclaim Community, one of the themes of the 2015 Detroit Gathering.  Proclaim Community was centered on the good news of Jesus on the cross. Through a variety of activities, Proclaim Community called us to believe in and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ.

I learned a lot during the trip to Detroit.  I learned more about my faith and what I can do with what God has planned for me in my life. I learned how to break chains, build bridges, bear burdens, and bring hope.

God’s work called us to listen, be vulnerable, and depend on each other.


How am I different than before I left? Before the trip to Detroit, I would never have considered wearing a shirt that said “Free Hugs” on it. I received more than 50 hugs from people I have never even met before and I received more than 1,000 high fives. I would not have felt comfortable with all these hugs from perfect strangers before the Gathering.  I feel that since the Gathering, I am much more sociable now than before I left. I have learned to listen to a person’s story before I respond or judge the person telling the story.

Where did I see Jesus? Proclaim Community was my favorite day during the Gathering. We spent the entire day at the Cobo Center. On the bottom floor, there were multiple prayer rooms. My favorite prayer room was the Labyrinth Room. The Labyrinth Room was a dark, candlelit room where you took off your shoes and wrote a prayer on a white school lunch bag. After we finished writing our prayers, we opened the bag and inserted a candle in them. We placed our bags along a pre-established maze. We weaved our way through this path and meditated as we walked. As we walked to the center of the maze, we released any sorrows we might have had. We contemplated what we were able to give and share with others as we walked outwards.  Another prayer room that I felt inspired by was the Need Prayer/ Receive a Prayer/ Write a Prayer Room. We could go to this room and share what was on our minds and hearts confidentially and someone would pray with us.

The Gospel of Matthew in chapter 28 verse 19 states, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the God, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,”

I feel that we need to break chains, bear burdens, and build bridges so that we can bring hope to our community.

To do this, we need to ask ourselves many questions. How can we forgive and reconcile with one another? What is our community hungry for and how can we bring that to the community? How can we recognize and break the chains that bind us? Can we carry our burdens together as sisters and brothers in Christ?