Reflections from Chris Okey

On Thursday, November 13, 2014 I traveled with two youth from the Minneapolis Area Synod (Christian Benz- St. John’s Lutheran Church, South Minneapolis & Grace Pelowitz- Wooddale Lutheran Church, St. Louis Park) and two youth from the Saint Paul Area Synod (Rachel Larson- Augustana Lutheran Church, West St. Paul & Rebecca Steffen- St. Steven’s Lutheran Church, West St. Paul) to Detroit for the ELCA Youth Leadership Summit.

The ELCA Youth Leadership Summit is a collaboration of the ELCA Network (Formerly Youth Ministry Network) and SYMBOL (Synodical Youth Ministry Band of Leaders).  It was the new formation of previous leadership events LYO boards and Cyclops.

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The summit looked at the work of the ELCA through branches of the larger church, including: Lutheran Disaster Response, World Hunger, and the ELCA Advocacy Office.  On Friday, Rev Stephen Bouman (Executive Director of the Congregational and Synodical Mission unit for the ELCA) facilitated a discussion around advocacy and embracing the world through baptism.  On Saturday, Rev. Lindsey Anderson (Pastor of Detroit Cooperative Perish) gave us a history of Detroit and encouraged us to look at history through multiple lens, and not just what the media portrays.  Saturday afternoon, Judith Roberts (ELCA Program Director for Racial Justice) had some friends with her and led us in an important conversation around identity and racial equality.

A lot of important information was presented and I feel it was a beneficial event for the youth involved.  Thank you to St. John’s, Wooddale, Augustana, and St. Steven’s for lifting up your leaders and supporting their travel.  Next year’s Youth Leadership Summit is at Carol Joy Holling Camp & Retreat Center, near Omaha, NE. Look for details in the spring/early summer.

Chris Okey is the Director of Missions at Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield and serves as the Minneapolis Area Synod Chair of the MAS/SPAS Children, Youth, and Family Leadership Team.