Youth Trip 2012

Messiah Youth Go To New Orleans

 Members of Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church spent five life changing days in New Orleans. The group consisted of twelve high school youth and three adult leaders. After a year of Massive church sales, chicken bar-b-que’s, pasta dinners, car washes and generous donations by church members and the community, on July 17th we were on our way to New Orleans to join 33,000 other Lutheran youth for the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering. The theme of the gathering was “Citizens with the Saints,” Ephesians 2:14-20. The youth in attendance were gathered together to learn to “Love like Jesus by practicing discipleship through peacemaking that works for justice.” The event devoted one day each for Discipleship, Peacemaking and Justice.

 Our Discipleship day was spent gathered together with all the youth from the ELCA’s Upstate New York Synod. We learned about the seven faith practices of Discipleship; Pray, Study, Worship, Invite, Encourage, Serve and Give. We studied and discussed these seven practices in small groups created by mixing the youth and leaders from different churches within the synod.

 The practice of Justice is an activity we are asked to live out by Jesus Christ. His commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves speaks clearly of this. All participants experienced a day of Justice in New Orleans knowing that it is God’s work with our hands. This city still is feeling the effects of hurricane Katrina seven years ago. The youth from Messiah went out into neighborhoods in the community. These were identified by the local Red Cross as needing informational flyers giving instruction as what to do in the event of another disaster. They were also given clip boards with forms to fill out. These were filled out when the people they met in the neighborhoods didn’t have evacuation transportation. This information will help the Red Cross provide the transportation required for those in need.

 Our Peacemaking day was filled with interactive learning at the New Orleans Community Center. The youth learned to see how God sees the world as one global community. The ELCA challenged the Gathering youth to raise $250,000 to build 100 wells for areas of the world without readily available drinking water. To date they have given over $400,000. They easily surpassed the original challenge goal.

 Each evening all 33,000 youth and leaders meet at the Superdome to hear inspirational speakers talk on the themes of the Gathering and to celebrate God’s love with popular Christian music from popular bands and singers. We worshiped in a setting filled with 33,000 promises of a better tomorrow through Gods love for all humanity.

 The final day of the Gathering was Sunday. For this we returned to the Superdome to worship and experience communion with all the youth and leaders of the Gathering. The experience was like none other. Being in a worship service of that size made you really feel God’s power and grace given to all who choose to follow his example and teaching. While it was an event filled week we did get a chance to experience the culture of New Orleans Sunday afternoon while waiting for our return flight to Rochester on Monday. The beignets at Café du Monde put a smile on everyone’s face, as well as a lot of powdered sugar.

In closing the Gathering Leaders challenged the youth to continue to practice the things that they experienced and learned in New Orleans in their own communities. The youth of Messiah returned home excited about the opportunity to apply their experiences to help others with needs specific to the Rochester area. We cannot wait to see how these special young people will make a difference here at home. The members of Messiah look forward to sending our next group of youth to Detroit for the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering. God Bless!