National youth-worker conference draws 400

Some 400 professionals and volunteers involved in youth ministry with congregations across the Synod participated in the 2006 NATIONAL Lutheran Youth Workers Conference July 20-23 in Orlando, Fla.
This was the second annual conference known as “NATIONAL” –- a project of LCMS District and Congregational Services –- Youth Ministry.

With the theme of “CHOSEN: A Living House,” this year’s conference featured 54 workshop sessions, five general sessions, and a variety of spiritual and community-life opportunities. 

The event also provided opportunities for participants to learn more about the program for the 2007 National LCMS Youth Gathering and Orlando, which is the site for the Gathering next summer.  “CHOSEN” is the Gathering theme.

“I was very encouraged and lifted up,” Director of Christian Education (DCE) Tara Brune wrote in her evaluation of the conference.

On the staff of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Gretna, Neb., Brune indicated that the conference “gave me many ideas and lots of plans for how to improve groups and events at the church where I serve.  It was a blessing to me as well as to the ministry team that attended with me.”

“As a volunteer youth worker …. I appreciated the encouragement and reinforcement that those of us who not receive pay for our work are still indeed called by God to do what we do,” wrote Robin Madsen of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Amherst Wis.  “It was an affirmation for me that I am doing what God intended for me as well as [giving me] a renewed excitement for my own church and youth there.”

“This was one of the best conferences in my pastoral career,” indicated Rev. Scott Kruse, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Antigo, Wis.  “The Bible studies were in depth, the seminars were helpful, and the organization was thorough.”

Keynote speakers for this year’s NATIONAL event included Rev. Joel Lehenbauer, who is on the staff of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations; Rev. Victor Belton, a member of the Synod’s Board of Directors, of Atlanta, Ga.; DCEs Sue Steege of Buffalo, N.Y., and Travis Hartjen, Austin, Texas; and Rev. Bill Yonker, West Dundee, Ill.

Synod President Gerald B. Kieschnick addressed participants at their closing session.  He and his wife, Terry, also were speakers at a conference breakfast.

“NATIONAL is a great event that draws together enthusiastic, generous people celebrating their faith in God and growing in their youth-ministry skill set,” said Rev. Terry Dittmer, director of LCMS Youth Ministry.  “It is one of the strongest events on the LCMS calendar — youth and adults ‘CHOSEN’ to be God’s living house made this a joyful and hope-filled event.”  

“The 2006 conference was … a place for youth workers to network and be nurtured in their ministry,” said Gretchen Jameson, conference director and associate director of LCMS Youth Ministry.

Jameson referred to NATIONAL as “a singularly unique event,” explaining that “it allows the professional and the volunteer an opportunity to dialogue and grow together in skills and understanding of their service to our Lord and his youth, while also providing distinct program experiences for both groups.”
Noting that there are “dozens of youth-ministry conferences available today,” Jameson said that LCMS Youth Ministry “is pleased to provide a quality experience for LCMS youth workers that challenges and equips them for service to the Church and world.”

Jameson pointed out that because of next year’s National Youth Gathering, no NATIONAL conference is planned for 2007.  However, she said that NATIONAL will host workshops for adult youth leaders during the Gathering.

Also at next year’s Gathering, adults may register for the next NATIONAL  Lutheran Youth Worker Conference, planned for summer  2008 in Indianapolis.  A special reduced early-bird registration fee for that conference will be offered, with details to be posted at the LCMS Youth Ministry Web site — — prior to the 2007 Gathering.

Posted Aug. 15, 2006

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