-Molly Beck Dean
Hi! My name is Molly and I serve as the Program Director for the ELCA Youth Gathering or Gathering Director for short. I began as director in January 2015 and accompanied former director, Heidi Hagstrom, and the other 2015 leadership in the months leading up to the Gathering.
So while I’m still relatively new on staff, my passion for and involvement in the Gathering started many years ago. In July of 1997, I boarded a bus in North Dakota and headed to New Orleans for the Gathering. That week was transformative for me. I experienced God in a new way. I saw how huge the ELCA was, and I was delighted in knowing tens of thousands of other teens shared in the Lutheran faith with me. I made lifelong friends, experienced an exciting city, and learned how important an adult youth worker can be in your life.
I am also fairly certain that the Gathering cemented God’s calling for my life. I returned home fired up about youth ministry, dove deeply into leadership within my synod, and rededicated myself to ministry in my congregation. I went on to serve as Director of Youth & Family Ministry at St. John in Fargo and as assistant program staff for the Northwestern Minnesota Synod and the ELCA Youth Ministry Network. For two summers, I was on staff with Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of Florida. In 2002, the Holy Spirit called me to Philadelphia where I joined the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod as their Youth Ministry Specialist for almost thirteen years.
Youth ministry is my calling. Showing young people the magnitude of God and God’s church is my passion. Walking alongside young leaders is my honor. Creating a community of support for adult youth workers is my delight. I love God and feel blessed to be doing this work in the ELCA.
My first love is my family! My husband and two children are on this crazy journey alongside me. We are making our new home in Illinois, and I am so grateful for their love and support.