WOW! What a Gathering!
Last weekend, November 16th - 18th, over 120 students and their chaperones came together for the 2012 Ohio District Senior High Youth Gathering. Participants came from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana! They gave generously in the offering received on Sunday morning more than $400 to aide Heidi Goehmann (St. Luke, Wauseon) and her family to go to Haiti for 9 months of mission/intern work. The Gathering was planned and carried out by our Ohio District Youth Ministry Team pictured above. Look on to see some highlights from the Gathering.
Dan Scharnhorst was our keynote speaker. Dan is the director of the Bear Creek Camp in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He challenged us to 'fix our eyes on Jesus'. To look to Jesus to aide us in making wise decisions and make the places where we live better places because Christ shines in us.
Echelon served as our Gathering band. We welcome them as often as we can to our Ohio Events as they are involved with the Gathering from start to finish. Lloyd, Todd, Jon and Ryan did a fine job getting our young people up and motivated to meet new people and sing praises to our God!
Pastor Rich Tursic left his congregation of Good Shepherd in Florence, Kentucky to lead the Bible Studies and Worship experiences throughout the weekend. With having had a son, Andrew and now his daughter, Kelly serve on the Youth Ministry Team, he had an extra dose of enthusiasm in putting together these special times for the participants of this year's Gathering.
Lectio Divina, a modern day foot washing was added for the first time this year. Last Spring a young man on the Youth Ministry team stated that he felt that Senior High youth need to be challenged more and dig deeper into using their faith in more meaningful ways. Youth from the YMT who have gone to the National Council of Lutheran Youth Fellowship had participated in a Lectio Divina there. When shared with the rest of the YMT, it was decided to add it to this year's Gathering. Not knowing how open to sharing and praying in small groups would be, the YMT was wondering how this would go.
It turned out that most all the participants in the Gathering were there . . . in a candle lit room in the Marriott with the only spotlight on the cross. After Pastor Tursic read 1 John 4:7 - 12, one by one each member of the little groups of five were prayed over and with. After prayers were raised, the individuals shoes were placed at the foot of the cross. Then the next person was able to share joys or concerns and the prayers continued. Both youth and adults were moved by the caring experience and asked if this might be an annual addition to our Ohio District Senior High Gathering.
Care Bags were also a new addition to the Gathering. A suggestion by youth members on the Youth Ministry Team was carried out by all. Each participant decorated a bag and then these were taped to the wall in the ballroom. Paper was provided and the writing began. Every single person had notes written to them by old and new friends. There was encouragement, joy in being together and reminders to keep "Eyes on the Prize" inserted into the bags for the youth and adults to take home to be reminded of how special they are in one another's sights as well as Jesus'.