Our Youth - Integral to Our Community
Our young people are an integral part of the Bethlehem community! Youth (grades 7 through 12) are active in assisting during worship, exploring their faith, serving others, and enjoying a healthy balance of Christian fellowship and fun. Friends are always welcome to participate!
Confirmation class is held for 6th - 8th graders. Over the course of three years we study the Old Testament, New Testament, and the Small Catechism. Confirmation class is a safe place for young people to ask questions and grow together in faith. And we have fun! A highlight of the program is the yearly retreat.
The youth committee regularly plans events for junior and senior high youth. See the What's Happening Page and the calendar for details on upcoming events.
2018 ELCA National Youth Gathering in Houston, TX
June 27 -- July 1, 2018
What it is: Every three years, Lutheran youth and their leaders travel from around the country and around the globe to come together for five amazing days of worship, speakers, service, and fun. Imagine being in a stadium with 30,000 other Lutheran teenagers and hearing people like Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shane Claiborne, as well as the real stories of teens and young adults who live out their faith in daily life. You'll be amazed!
Who can go? Anyone in Grades 8 – 12 in the 2017-2018 school year is eligible to attend.
What will we do? Every day of the Gathering has a different schedule. One day we will be with other youth from our Metropolitan Chicago Synod doing worship, team building, and learning together. One day we will be doing a service project to make a difference in the lives of the people of Houston. One day we will be able to go to the huge, interactive exhibit hall to learn hands on about faith, justice, and the work of the church in the world (Oh, and there's usually a high ropes course). Every evening there is a mass gathering in the stadium, with great music and speakers. Every night there is hotel life: dances, inflatables, concerts, and more. We likely will also do some sightseeing or side trips either during the Gathering or on the way there or back.
How will we get there? This has not yet been decided. In the past we have gone on buses with others from our synod. This was both fun and affordable. Depending on our fundraising goals, we might be able to fly or take the train. Either way, plan on 1-2 days of transit on either end of the Gathering, as you plan your summer calendar.
How much will it cost? Depending on how we travel, the Gathering typically costs $1200-$1500 per student. In the past, groups have worked hard on fundraising to get the cost down to $300-$400 per student. Our congregation has been very generous. Students are encouraged to reach out to friends and family to help. Some save the money from their part-time job or babysitting to help offset the cost. There is also financial aid available through the ELCA. See www.elca.org/gathering for details.
When and how do we sign up? Pastor Jennie will start accepting registrations in August. If possible, we would like to register in the month of September, when registration opens. Gatherings can fill up fast -- and those who register early get both the early bird discount and the chance to be at the hotels closest to the Gathering events (this is a HUGE plus!). To register, fill out a registration worksheet and submit a $150 non-refundable deposit (check made to Bethlehem) and give them to Pastor Jennie by September 15th. Late registrations will be accepted if space is available.
Then what? Those who are registered to attend the Gathering will spend the school year fundraising, doing Bible study on the Gathering theme (don't worry -- this will be fun!), and doing service projects together. All of our Bethlehem youth and friends will be invited to these "getting ready" events.
Who will chaperone? We do not yet have chaperones lined up for this trip. Pastor Jennie is unsure whether she will be able to attend. If you feel called to lead our youth on this trip, let Pastor know. We have many experienced chaperones (Pastor has been to five National Youth Gatherings!) who will help make this as positive an experience as possible.