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One in Christ: Day Four of MYLE

– Megan Brandsrud

MYLE came to a close with a final worship service that celebrated being “One in Christ,” the theme for the last day. Participants gathered for worship while singing songs in multiple languages with the Glocal musicians, a group of musician educators formed by the ELCA Global Mission Unit that provides music and worship leadership.

After a reading of Ephesians 2:14-19, Yehiel Curry, pastor of Shekinah Chapel Lutheran Church in Riverdale, Ill., gave the message.

“I’m so grateful for this opportunity and so grateful to see you,” Curry said.

Curry talked about how he was inspired after seeing the MYLE participants dancing together during their celebration last night. “The world wants you to be divided,” he said. “But when you can lock hands and dance together and say, ‘This is my brother or this is my sister, and I know we don’t look alike but we are family,’ now THAT changes everything.”

“I always say that immersion kills stereotypes,” Curry continued. “If you can change your town, you can change your state. If you can change your state, you can change your nation. And if you can change your nation, you can change the world.” Everyone in attendance rose to their feet with applause and cheers.

Deep connections and relationships were formed during the three and a half days MYLE participants spent together, which were beautifully visible as everyone spent many minutes sharing the peace of the Lord with each other, walking in and out of aisles to give hugs and high-fives.

Trevour, a first-time MYLE participant from Luther Place in Washington, D.C., said his favorite parts of MYLE were the worship services and making connections with people from all over the country. “To be honest, I loved it,” he said. “I got even more out of it than I thought I would. I loved meeting new people who have the same love of God and Jesus that I do.”

Follow the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering on social media:

Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ELCAYG2018!

Follow instructions to download the ELCA Youth Gathering app here.

One Household, Many Rooms: Day Three of MYLE

– Megan Brandsrud

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). On the last full day of MYLE, participants gathered under the daily theme of “One household, many rooms” and talked about how there is a place for everyone in God’s house.

Part of the discussion took place in affinity groups (African descent, Latino/a, European American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Multiracial/Multiethnic, American Indian/Alaska Native) where participants shared reflections, joys and struggles with each other.

During Discovery Worship, MYLE participants went through a series of stations designed to help them build their personal faith life and learn how they are all connected through their relationship with God. Some of the stations included writing a letter of encouragement to a modern-day social justice activist and walking a labyrinth to focus on personal reflection and centering oneself.

Beyonnie, a MYLE participant from St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C., walked the labyrinth during the Discovery Worship time. “We walked in a circle and reflected on life and getting rid of negativity,” she said. “When you hit the middle, you release negativity and stress, and I only felt filled with positive thoughts and feelings.”

In the afternoon, MYLE participants also chose different skill shops to attend that focused on finding and understanding their place and their path. Workshops ranged from social justice theater, which focused on activities to help break down walls and build bridges, to a simulation where participants pretended aliens came to earth to learn how to help see themselves from the outside and see what values shape their behavior.

Ciara, a MYLE participant from Christ Lutheran Church in Upper Darby, Pa., attended a session called “Preparing for college.”

“I’m going to be a senior and I want to go to college, so I thought it would be good to hear what they had to say,” she said. “It was really helpful in explaining some things I need to know in preparing to apply to schools.”

Many participants said that the music during worship and the morning Jumpstart has been their favorite part of MYLE so far, and that they’re connecting with the theme of “ONE” and feeling like it’s an important message for today.

“It’s very encouraging,” said Joshua, a MYLE participant from Toledo, Ohio. “It’s all about bringing in all different groups and seeing that together we are strong. Today’s theme is all about that, I think. There’s one household and many rooms—just like there’s God’s kingdom and we are all God’s children. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are.”

One Mission, Many Gifts: Day Two of MYLE

What does it mean to be one in community, but to have a variety of gifts expressed in a group of people? On the second day of MYLE, the theme was “One mission, many gifts,” which explored how to be unified as a people of faith that come a diversity of talent and skill.

The day’s theme was embodied as MYLE participants traveled around Houston for Service Learning projects. Ten sites were selected around the Houston area where participants could not only offer the city their gifts as people of faith, but could also learn about accompaniment and service.

Stephen, 18, of All Peoples Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, felt energized by Jumpstart (the opening worship service at MYLE). He said it wasn’t just fun and a chance to feel hyped up in the morning, but it was also a wake-up call to start his day of service, which was at The Life Center. MYLE participants at The Life Center worked with residents of the homeless shelter to paint, landscape, and beautify the facility. Stephen was looking forward to what he could do to help the community. His hope for his time at MYLE is to “show equality for what this nation could be and that no matter what race or color, we are as one.”

The day was also filled with intense conversations. Over dinner in the University of Houston dining hall, participants from the East Bay Lutheran Youth Program in Oakland, CA, had very honest conversations on identity, who we are as created in God’s image, and defying stereotypes. They reflected on their Service Learning experience that took place at the Star of Hope, a non-profit organization that works with people experiencing homelessness in Houston. They were joined at dinner from new friends they made from Christ Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C.

After sharing a meal, participants went to worship. Worship was filled with songs of love, justice, prayer, and liberation. Jennifer and Noah from Mediator Lutheran Church in Philadelphia shared their experiences at their Service Learning site, Spring High School. Jennifer talked about making the school’s campus look beautiful through gardening. Noah expressed that it was God’s work through their hands to bring hope to the school’s campus. Rev. Patrick Gahagen spoke at worship, taking about gifts and passions in a life rooted in faith.

The overall theme of ONE continues to resonate strongly at MYLE. The second day was filled with a multitude of gifts and unified as one community.

Follow the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering on social media:

Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ELCAYG2018!

Follow instructions to download the ELCA Youth Gathering app here.

the tAble and MYLE Begin!

What does it mean to truly belong? What does it mean to be a part of the one body of Christ in the midst of the diversity of God’s creation? These questions are a part of the foundations for the tAble and MYLE, the pre-events to the ELCA Youth Gathering. The pre-events embody the full expression of inclusivity within the church.

The theme for the tAble is “You Belong.” With this theme, there are a series of questions for young people who live with a wide range of physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities within our church to ask, “where do I fit in?”, “why am I different than others?”, and “what gifts could I possibly bring?”.

the tAble reminds us that we are all welcome at Christ’s Table and that we all belong in the fullness of who God created us to be. The daily themes, questions will be the areas of wonder to be explored during the pre-event are:

  • Who do you belong to?,
  • Why do you belong?,
  • Your gifts belong at the table. How do you belong?, and
  • Who belongs with you?.

MYLE’s theme is “ONE,” with the foundation in Ephesians 2:14-19. What does it mean to be a part of the one body of Christ when God expresses the fullness of God’s diversity in cultures and languages? How is unity in God expressed within the many people around the world who follow Christ in a number of beautiful and meaningful ways?

Each day, MYLE will focus on “ONE” in a number of ways:

  • One body, many parts (1 Corinthians 12:14-26);
  • One mission, many gifts (1 Corinthians 12: 4-11);
  • One household, many rooms (John 14:2); and
  • ONE in CHRIST (Ephesians 2:14-19).

MYLE and the tAble express and embody that You Belong at Christ’s Table, and that we are unified as ONE in the beauty and diversity of God’s creation. These are vital pre-events to express the fullness of expression of God’s church, and there is reason to rejoice as these pre-events begin today.

Follow the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering on social media:

Don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ELCAYG2018!

Follow instructions to download the ELCA Youth Gathering app here.

MYLE: Gathering as One

– Branden Hunt

The theme for MYLE in 2018 is One.

We must all come together as one. We must all move forward together as one. Yet coming together as one does not mean that groups of people must give up their culture in the process.

There is room for all people at God’s table to come exactly as they are.

There are different communities of people in the ELCA that each bring their own stories and experiences to the table, but for a lot of communities, there can be the feeling that something must be given up in order to fit in.

Our hope for MYLE this year is that we can talk about how we are one in Christ, and one in Christ with different gifts and abilities.

A young person of color can be a part of a community, but they do not have to give up who they are. In fact, they have so much to bring to the God’s table. One of the daily themes is “One Body, Many Parts,” in which we will explore with young people the gifts that they have for the world. These gifts need to be shared with the world to make it a better place.

Our hope for our church and our world is not that we just come together as one, but rather, we come together as one in such a way that every culture’s unique gifts are lifted up and no one has to lose their identity. Our hope is that everyone is accepted for who they are. If we are able to come together in such a way… it can change the church and the world.