– Theresa Hanley
When I was first invited to attend the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit, Michigan, I was scared. Before the Gathering, I only knew of the negative connotation that surrounded Detroit. However, since my short time in Detroit, I will forever be able to speak so proudly of the city. When I went to the Gathering, I was able to see God more clearly than ever before, and the people of Detroit changed my life. The Gathering allowed me to truly listen to God’s call for me by not only speaking about social justice topics, but also acting on these issues.
Jesus calls us to make ourselves vulnerable for those in need, and that is what the Gathering enables. My whole life, I attended a tiny church in central Pennsylvania where my brother and I are the only youth. Although this place is my home, the Gathering made me truly proud to be a member of the ELCA. The Gathering was the first time I was able to worship God with more than the forty people who attend service every Sunday.
The Gathering is a place where you are surrounded by people who believe the same fundamental things as yourself. It is an experience that is impossible to recreate. Singing “Hallelujah” in a building filled with over 30,000 Lutheran youth from across the country and beyond makes you feel so humbled that you are a part of this church. The Gathering changed my faith journey and I am forever thankful for the opportunity.
I cannot wait to see what God has in store for Houston.