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Youth from Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Eagan recently had the opportunity to represent the Saint Paul Area Synod at the annual ELCA Youth Leadership Summit, held this year in Houston. The summit is a “gathering for high school youth identified as leaders and adult representatives from each synod across the ELCA. [It] focuses on leadership development…at the intersection of leadership and faith in daily life and faith formation and building connections for high school youth” (quote from ELCA Youth Ministry Network). This year’s theme for the summit was “ME, WE, & BE” as we focused on how we are followers of Christ in the world both individually and as members of a community.
One highlight for us included getting a preview of what the synod day at the 2018 Youth Gathering will look like. We also appreciated getting to hear from a number of pastors, leaders, and other speakers from the Houston area, many of whom helped us learn about the recovery from Hurricane Harvey and the struggles and triumphs they have experienced over the past few months.
But perhaps the best part was the opportunity to meet and interact with other ELCA youth from across the country. The whole event was youth-led, and we had the chance not only to get to know a lot of great people, but to learn with and from them as well. One of our favorite activities was a “privilege walk,” where we explored the impacts that racism, sexism, and other problems in our society have on us even if we don’t realize it. We learned that we are not all on a level playing field, and we can sometimes be surprised where people fall on that field. We also enjoyed the talent show held on the final night of the summit. Many of the participants shared music or poetry or other talents with the group, and while there were some very talented acts, the best part of the show was how supportive everyone was of each other, even though we had only met a few days before. This was truly the community of God in action.
We are very grateful to the Saint Paul Area Synod for giving us this opportunity, and we strongly encourage others to apply for the opportunity to attend next year’s summit.
Linnea Bollum, Jackson White, and Brian Hornbecker
Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Eagan
Photo from the ELCA Youth Leadership Summit Facebook page