By Amanda Tompkins, member of St. Paul, Tannersville, and LYF Historian
What does it mean to have Jesus in your life? How can we show others what it’s
like? These are questions that our synod’s youth were asking themselves
at the annual LYF gathering at Shawnee Inn on the weekend of December 3-5. The
theme, His LYF in Mine, was discussed throughout the weekend at devotions and
in sermons from our chaplain, the Rev. Lori Kochanski, and Bishop Strobel. Guests
included our music leaders for the weekend, the Rev. Bob Fatzinger and Jean Sandberg.
At check-in on Friday night, the air was buzzing with anticipation of the days
ahead. Those who had never attended an LYF gathering were just as excited about
the weekend as those who had attended in the past. We had some time to get acquainted
in small groups and then were off to the first plenary session.
Two of the LYF advisors (the Rev. Tricia McMackin and Bruce Saylor) performed
a skit for us to explain the rules of dorm life, which left the entire assembly
Plenaries can easily turn into the most boring time of your life. To counteract
this, our LYF board had the solution: candy toss! At least once every plenary,
right as things were starting to drag, the officers yelled “CANDY TOSS!” and
then proceeded to throw candy into the crowd (no injuries were reported).
In the first plenary, nominations from the floor were taken for the offices of
president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. And at the close of this
first plenary, we held evening devotions, which prepared everyone for the spiritually
enhancing and promising days ahead.
Saturday was a full and tiring day. After breakfast, morning devotions were held.
The bishop offered an inspirational message about how our life is on loan to
us from God.
The second plenary began with introductions to more guests. Two former LYF presidents
joined us for the day: Matthew Suarez and Mike Scholtes, who also led a workshop.
Nominees were introduced and gave speeches and the mission district meeting rooms
were announced. Before and after lunch, the youth attended workshops. The topics
ranged from “Pentagrams and Crosses,” a workshop that included education
and discussion on Wicca and Christianity, to "Out there in God’s World," a
workshop for high school seniors whose lives would be changing after graduation.
In the afternoon plenary, following elections for board members and officers,
topics for open space were announced. Although open space is a fairly new addition
to the agenda (it was added four years ago), it is a favorite among participants.
Open space is a time for youth to get away from chaperones and hold discussions
without the presence of adults. Individuals announced topics and rooms were designated
Following free time and dinner, the last plenary of the day began with the announcement
of election results. New officers are Walt Hampton (president), Becky Montes
De Oca (vice president), Hillary Bender (treasurer) and Laura Printz (secretary).
Afterwards we held a service for healing and our chaplain again delivered a remarkable
message and led an uplifting service.
Discussions during open space that night were reportedly lively, involved and
sometimes controversial. Social time and refreshments were followed by reflection
time in congregational groups. We all went to bed before the 1 a.m. curfew.
During the final plenary session on Sunday morning, we watched a PowerPoint presentation
put together from the pictures taken by advisor David Renninger. The morning
ended with a Eucharist service. A youth choir sang the anthem and provided support
for the service music and the new LYF officers were installed. Sadly, it was
then time to bid farewell to our new and old friends.
This year’s LYF gathering was spiritually inspiring and socially refreshing,
and not one participant showed signs of having anything less than a great time.
A big thank you to the entire LYF board, the planning committees, the Shawnee
Inn, the adult advisors, and all the participants who made the weekend possible.