By Vicki J. Biggs
More than 250 adults — ranging in age from 24 to 88 — attended the first-ever LCMS Adult Gathering July 28-Aug. 1 in Orlando, Fla., held in conjunction with the 2007 National LCMS Youth Gathering.
Participants including both Youth Gathering alumni and first-time Gathering attendees had opportunities to proclaim and celebrate their faith in worship; renew their spirits through daily Bible studies; and learn about witnessing to the world, both at home and abroad.
“Our goal was to provide a National Youth Gathering experience for adults,” says Jill Hasstedt, director of youth and family ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Belleville, Ill., and chair of the 2007 LCMS Adult Gathering. “Adults have been saying for years that they wish they could attend the Youth Gatherings because the kids say how much they enjoy them. This was our response to that request.”
The Adult Gathering featured separate events for adults each morning, including an opening worship service on Sunday and daily Bible studies, inspirational speakers, and features on specific Lutheran missions. A “behind-the-scenes” tour offered insights on the massive operations and logistics planning the National Youth Gathering requires.
“The most frequently asked question on the tour was about how communion is conducted for 25,000 people,” Hasstedt commented.
Adults joined the Youth Gathering for afternoon sessions and nightly mass events.
Pastor Donald F. Hinchey from Our Father Lutheran Church in Centennial, Colo., attending with his wife, Margaret, shared his enthusiasm for the Adult Gathering. “I met my wife at the first Youth Gathering in Fort Collins. We’ve attended a number of the Gatherings over the years, and are especially happy to be at this event. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and hear some incredible speakers.”
Three sisters — Sally Levad, Becky Oelkers, and Susan Bier, and their friend Peggy Boonstra, members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Mason City, Iowa — attended the Adult Gathering together. Although none were at previous Youth Gatherings themselves, Boonstra said, “Our kids always attended the Youth Gatherings and had such a good time that we decided we would come to this.”
Oeklers added, “It’s been inspirational to attend this event and share in the mass events with the young people. Just watching the kids express their faith has strengthened my own.
Hasstedt explained that the 2007 Adult Gathering was a pilot event. Participant response and evaluations will help LCMS District and Congregational Services — Youth Ministry decide whether to hold another Adult Gathering.
“So far I have the sense that we overwhelmingly have met our goals,” Hasstedt said. “Participants already are asking when and where the next Adult Gathering will be.”
Posted Aug. 27, 2007