“The Gathering inspired me to get more people involved in the ELCA and
in Christianity in general. The speakers, music, people, and the overall feel
of the gathering made me want to share it with the world.” (Amanda)
Youth and adults from the synods in the ELCA Northeast Region gathered July 22-25
at Wagner College on Staten Island N.Y. for the 2004 ELCA Northeast Region Youth
Gathering. The theme, It’s True, It’s Real, It’s Now, comes
from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, focusing on the Word of God revealed
to us in Jesus Christ.
The four days were filled with Bible study, keynote speakers, workshops, servant
events, reflection groups, sports, dances, conversation and just “kicking
back.” Showers and downpours added excitement to getting around the Wagner
campus. When the fog lifted, the Wagner College dining room offered diners a
spectacular view of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the skyline of Manhattan.
“I had an awesome time at the event! Making new friends was the best part. I liked
[the singing group] A Bunch of Guys a lot.” (Walt)
The Rev. Barbara Berry-Bailey, Associate Director of Worship in the ELCA Division
for Congregational Ministries in Chicago, challenged youth each morning to respond
to the immediate message of the True, Real, Now that is Jesus Christ in our lives.
The gathering musicians, Dakota Road, led the participants in singing new and
“The daily Bible studies on John 1:1-8 done by the Rev. Barbara Berry-Bailey were
one of the highlights for me. Music by Dakota Road was superb . . . and the Saturday
night special A Bunch of Guys – Knute and Piper really got everyone in
the swing of things with their sometimes silly and [sometimes] serious songs.
It was nice to hear that two guys give all their proceeds to World Hunger.” (Bruce)
Workshops included topics such as What Is a Lutheran? Be Safe-Be Aware, How to
Start a Puppet Ministry, Clowning, Dealing with Conflict, and It’s Tough Being
A Christian. Servant events involved participants in beach cleanup, working at
a food bank in Manhattan, exploring the ELCA’s maritime ministries, and
“My favorite workshop was Sharing Faith Stories, because I was able to tell everyone
my faith story and listen to everyone else's. I could relate with some of the
things that were said.” (Noelle)
Evening keynoters were Vance Robbins (Thursday night), a member of the Cherokee
Nation of Oklahoma and a staff member of the ELCA’s Youth Ministry and
Gathering Team; Marc Keilberger (Friday night), founder of Leaders Today, a unique
international organization that provides leadership training to over 100,000
young people every year; and Maren Hulden (Saturday night), president of the
ELCA’s Lutheran Youth Organization.
“The highlight for me was Saturday evening’s total community. The music,
the theme, the speakers all came together that evening to provide a very inspiring
An added treat Saturday night was A Bunch of Guys – Knute and Piper – two
musicians from New England Synod who spoke about world hunger and their work
to raise $$ for the ELCA World Hunger program by contributing all of the proceeds
from the sale of their CD, Take A Breath. In addition to singing songs from that
CD, Knute and Piper involved the audience in singing silly songs that got everyone
up and moving. They were a big hit!
The Reverend Marie Jerge, Bishop of the Upstate New York Synod, preached at the
closing worship Sunday morning. Her question to the worshippers was, “How
will you measure your life?”
“I found the Regional Youth Gathering to be quite matchless, maximum, paramount,
peerless, perfect, pre-eminent, predominant, prevailing, prime, principal, sovereign,
superb, superlative, surpassing, terminal, top, top-drawer, towering, transcendent,
ultimate, unequaled, unmatched, unparalleled, unsurpassable, unsurpassed, utmost.
That's just the way it was.” (Travis)