by Elizabeth M. Truong
The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod’s triennial National Youth Gathering (NYG) is known for the unique fellowship, learning, worship and service opportunities that it provides to tens of thousands of high-school youth from Lutheran churches throughout the country, and planners are sure that the 12th NYG–held in San Antonio, Texas, in July 2013–will be no different. LCMS high-school youth and leaders will have ample opportunities to put the LCMS’ emphasis of Witness, Mercy, Life Together into action.
“Live Love(d),” the 2013 NYG’s theme, is taken from 1 John 4:9: “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him” (NIV). Those who helped develop next year’s theme noted that, as God’s people, we live confidently in the love shown to us in Christ and respond in love to others.
NYG staff and volunteers hope to send 10,000 people into the community for more than three days to participate in servant events, which will be made possible through local LCMS congregations, Recognized Service Organizations, public schools and other local ministries and institutions. San Antonio has a large population of veterans, because of the number of Veterans Administration hospitals and military bases in the area, so NYG leaders are looking for ways to involve the students in caring for veterans in a variety of ways. Additionally, the Lutheran Inner-City Network Coalition (LINC) has recently begun ministry in the San Antonio area, so NYG leaders hope to take advantage of an opportunity to partner with that ministry in sharing Christ’s mercy with the community.
Youth attending the 2013 NYG will also have the opportunity, as they did in 2010, to participate in an experiential-learning area. They will learn and serve through activities such as making maternity blankets or blankets for young children; donating hair to Locks of Love; writing encouraging notes to LCMS missionaries, military chaplains and others; collecting food pantry items and other materials needed by local ministries around the host city; and participating in a blood drive.
Youth groups and leaders attending the NYG will also be encouraged to contribute to the Lutheran Malaria Initiative. Groups are encouraged to think creatively about how they can raise funds prior to the NYG and can bring checks with them to San Antonio or submit the total they’ve collected ahead of time through the LCMS website. In this way, LCMS youth and adults can play a role in eliminating malaria deaths through a partnership with Lutheran churches in Africa. Besides LMI, NYG participants will have the opportunity to support the NYG offering, which includes support for local servant events, as an extension of NYG Eutychus grants for outreach efforts to youth.
Whether it’s across the street from San Antonio’s Alamodome or across the globe in Africa, we pray that God will bless the 2013 NYG as its participants and planners engage the world around them with acts of witness and mercy as part of the Synod’s life together.
> Learn more at www.lcmsgathering.com.
About the Author: Elizabeth M. Truong is a staff writer for LCMS Communications.