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ELCA Youth Gathering Blog

Feeling Rocked to the Core

– Kristina Johnson Dernier 

The ELCA Youth Gathering is a transformational event that impacts literally thousands of young people and their adult leaders for their entire lives.  When I was a junior in high school, I got to go to the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans. I’m a lifelong Lutheran and an active “church nerd,” but my home congregation did not have a steady youth director. Since I didn’t have a steady youth director at my church, I did not get to have the opportunities that my friends were able to have with their churches.  But when I was in high school, there were some adult volunteers from my hometown that led the trip to the New Orleans Gathering. I was blown away when I walked into the Dome for the first time.  All of these people that were my age were worshiping the same God at the same time; I did not feel alone.  That was a feeling that rocked me to my core.   

I don’t remember the speakers (I do remember Lost and Found and “Lions,” however), but I remember that feeling. I pray that every young person and adult leader that participates in the Gathering has that feeling when they walk into the Mass Gathering. Because of that prayer, I said yes to the fantastic opportunity to be the Gathering Coordinator for the Northwestern Minnesota Synod.  I get to walk alongside adult leaders from my synod and make sure they have the information they need for this particular Gathering so they can be the best for themselves, their adult leaders, and their young people.   

If you have any questions, please contact me or my fellow synod coordinators, we would LOVE to help you! 


Kristina Johnson Dernier is the Northwestern Minnesota Synod Gathering Lutheran Youth Organization Advisor and Synod Gathering Coordinator.