– Ed Kay

I never fully appreciated the size and scope of the ELCA Youth Gathering until I sat on the floor of the bare New Orleans Convention Center, counting out thin pieces of cardboard that would be used for what was to be the first Synod Day in a Gathering cycle in 2012. In 2015, it was thousands of “Jesus is Good News!” tattoos and prayer journals.

And in 2018, there will be loads of new supplies that will be sorted and delivered to the ballrooms and meeting spaces around Houston as our Synods gather for their day together. But what really makes the Synod Day an integral part of the Gathering experience is not the truckloads of supplies or the work of planning teams near and far.

The power of the Synod Day is the creation of a unique community of Christ, gathering around Word and Meal, honest sharing and beautiful music, and deep conversation with holy moments.

Unlike many other aspects of the Gathering, the Synod Day is when you’re with the people you’re closest with, geographically at least. Your bishop is with you. The musicians are talent from your own churches and youth groups. The testimonies are from young people from your own cities and towns. This is a community that forms with people from your own neighborhoods, even though you may be hundreds or thousands of miles from where you call home. But, in a way, it too is a kind of home as well.

The Synod Day is more than the couple of hours you’ll spend together in a Houston hotel ballroom—it is the beginning of new friendships and the renewal of long-standing ones. It is the community who will bring the story of Jesus back from Houston into your own communities and neighborhoods.