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Gathering and Blessing Volunteers

– Misael Fajardo-Perez

I am privileged to be part of the commissioning service for the ELCA Youth Gathering volunteers for the second time in a row. Nearly 800 volunteers are gathering in Houston a few days before they engage with over 30,000 youth and their leaders coming from various corners of our country and from our global church partners.

I will serve as one of the chaplains for the nearly 800 volunteers during the Gathering. Chaplains will share worship responsibilities for the commissioning service for volunteers and will be accompanied by ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Easton and Bishop Michael Rinehart of the Gulf Coast Synod. Musician Rachel Kurtz will lead us in music, and at the end of the service, volunteers will be sent to the Gathering with words of blessings and affirmation.

One of the most powerful moments in this service is will begin at the baptismal font. It is at the font where we remember our common identity, which holds us together as a community of faith. The most meaningful moment to which I am looking forward is when various items from each corner of the space will be brought forth to the center of the room to be connected together to create a base for the baptismal bowl. This imagery is so meaningful for me because it acknowledges the various journeys that come together as they have for generations to receive the one Spirit poured out at Pentecost, upon the Gentiles, and now upon us.

It is the one Spirit that connects us to each other, becoming equal recipients, crafted by this same God of Love.

Thanks be to God for the continued work of transformation by the Spirit, who continues to call all people from all corners of our world to the divine purpose of sharing love. God be with all of our volunteers.


Rev. Misael Fajardo-Perez is a Mission Developer with the Wenatchee Valley Lutheran Latino Ministry.

Meet Jennifer

– Jennifer Schultz

I’m Jennifer Schultz, and I’m thrilled to serve as Team Leader for Volunteers for the 2018 Gathering. I currently serve as an ELCA pastor in Los Alamitos, California.  As a student, I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in a Gathering, but I’ve served as an adult leader at two Gatherings. For the 2015 Gathering, I served as Co-Leader for the Volunteers Team. There are so many volunteers that serve throughout the Gathering. The Volunteers Team includes Gathering Volunteer Corps (GVC), Servant Companions, and local volunteers. 
The Gathering is an incredible ministry. It provides a dedicated space, time, and ample opportunities to live out our Christian faith in new and different settings with so many siblings in Christ. The experience of the Gathering is not only life-changing for students and adult leaders, but also for the myriads of people who serve in preparation for, during, and after the Gathering. I had no idea how many people were involved until I served on the leadership side of the 2015 Gathering. There are so many dedicated people who come together from a variety of settings, backgrounds, ages, and experiences. This variety actually unites us for the common goals for the Gathering: to bring the love of God through Jesus to life for all participants, to be of service to neighbor, and to experience faith in unexpected, new, and renewed forms.     
As you prepare for the Gathering, please know there are so many dedicated people working towards the common goal of everyone of having a faith-filled experience!