Planners choose 'We Believe' as Youth Gathering theme

Planners of the 2010 National LCMS Youth Gathering last month announced its theme, “We Believe,” and that for the first time youth registration will be open to those who are 14 years old or entering their freshman year of high school by the time of the July 17-21 event in New Orleans.

The 2010 Gathering theme is based on John 20:31: “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (ESV).

“One of the things that youth always say about the Gathering is how much it means to encounter other students who ‘believe like I do,'” said Dr. Terry Dittmer, director of LCMS District and Congregational Services — Youth Ministry, which has sponsored all 11 National LCMS Youth Gatherings held since 1980, including the 2010 event.

” ‘We Believe’ is a wonderful corporate expression of our faith in Jesus Christ,” Dittmer continued, “especially as we focus on the creed and our confessions [and] as we take that faith to the New Orleans community in Word, celebration, service, witness, and fellowship.”

Those who developed the theme, according to a news release from LCMS Youth Ministry, included that office’s staff, the 2010 Gathering Executive Team, Dr. Joel Lehenbauer of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations, and “other creative experts from across the church and the LCMS Southern District.”

This will be the third National Gathering to take place in New Orleans, following others there in 1992 and 2001.  The 2007 Gathering was first planned for New Orleans, but then moved to Orlando in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Gathering planners also announced changes to participant registration guidelines, including lowering the age of eligibility to 14 (from 15 for past Gatherings), and allowing more adult leaders to accompany youth groups.

“Our goal is to provide opportunities for incoming [high school] freshmen to experience the Gathering,” Mark Kiessling, Gathering program director, said of the lowered age requirement. “Planners will give special consideration when developing workshops and program content to meet the unique needs of these younger students,” he added.

To register for the 2010 Gathering, youth participants must be at least 14 years old or entering their freshman year of high school at the time of the Gathering, and may not be over the age of 21 by that time.

Also, the adult-to-youth ratio in congregational groups at the 2010 Gathering is basically being increased by one adult for every six youth.  For instance, that would range from two adults accompanying groups with up to six youth, to eight adults in groups with 42 to 48 young people.

The 2007 National LCMS Youth Gathering in Orlando included some 27,500 participants from about 1,800 congregations. In addition, a first-time concurrent Adult Gathering there drew more than 250.

Kiessling noted that an Adult Gathering is not being planned for 2010, since the 2007 Adult Gathering “was hosted with the specific intent of celebrating the 30 years of Gathering planning.”

Registration for the “We Believe” Youth Gathering opens in the fall of 2009.  For more information, contact DCS Youth Ministry at (800) 248-1930, Ext. 1155.

The Gathering Web site,, provides interactive “glimpses” of New Orleans, featuring LCMS members in the Southern District and information that Kiessling said “helped the LCMS decide that New Orleans is the best home for the 2010 Gathering.”

Posted May 1, 2008

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