Wed. evening was the first gathering of everyone in the dome. The music, the enthusiasm, the dancing and the speakers were all outstanding, as was the noise level. I happened to sit right behind our group from Prince of Peace in Depew. I bring you greetings from Pastor Dennis Fonkert, who once served at Christ, Little Falls. As the evening ended there was an amazing thunderstorm, with lightning and buckets of rain!
Thursday was the first full day of the gathering. For Upstate New Synod it was Practicing Discipleship – the day that all those from our synod gathered for Eucharist and learning about seven aspects of discipleship. Gathering as a synod is new to the Youth gathering and it was great to be with all 350 of our folks. A great way to build networks for ministry and mission when we get back home. Thanks to Justin Johnson, Kristin Romell, Rick Mollenkopf-Grill and Laurie Carson who did all the preparation and planning with the ELCA team.
The evening at the dome – I sat with groups from Bethlehem, Fairport and Atonement, Rochester. Again – great music and speakers. Among them were Valerie Rivas who told us how serving as a Young Adult in Mission (YAGM) in South Africa changed her life. Megan Stubbs, child of ELCA missionaries in Tanzania, witnessed to how she discovered her own sense of mission by living in this "foreign" land. Just listening to youth and young adults tell their stories has been inspiring! Youth then headed to the hotels for community life. I hope everyone thanks their adult leaders with youth, who are putting their faith into practice in their amazing care for our youth.
Weather has been hot and sticky with thunderstorms on and off! Today I'm off to Practicing Peacemaking!
Grace and peace,
Bishop Marie Jerge
Left: Prince of Peace, Depew
Right: Rev. Justin Johnson prepares for worship on day 2