2016 ELCA Youth Leadership Summit

Deacon Ben Remmert

summit-1Grace and peace from our Lord and Savior. On November 3, two youth from our synod and myself traveled to Lutheridge in North Carolina for the annual ELCA Youth Leadership summit. I was privileged and honored to represent our synod, accompanying Katherine Willcockson from Christ the King in Houston and Ismael Danforth from Living Word in Katy. This year’s event provided our youth a unique opportunity to gather with other youth across our nation, grow in their faith, and develop as leaders in the ELCA, discussing issues of hunger, prejudice, and justice.

The following paragraphs are from Katherine and Ismael sharing their experiences and how it has impacted them:

Katherine Willcockson
Through the crisp, maple leaves, unashamed singing, and deep evening conversations, North Carolina was filled with the ever-nourishing presence of God.

summit-2At least once a day, a speaker would step onto the stage and look up to face a room of shining youth. Little did us, the youth, know that each time we looked up at one another, we would be changed by the end.

These people taught us that we make 1.5 times the food it takes to feed the world, that advocacy can make a difference far away even if we do it within our own communities, that immigrants are stuck in an ever-changing look of government and poverty, and, most of all, that we need to bring all of this back to our churches and back to our communities.

In between talks of faith and global community, though, we took advantage of the fact that we were at camp. There was a stack of hammocks 6 feet high. Some ran down to a field by the lake to play ultimate frisbee and others kicked up dust in the gaga ball pit. The North Carolina’s synod band played songs while everyone danced in the middle.

summit-3The whole trip was a mix of eye-opening discussions and liberating breaths of cold air by the lake. The experiences that I had will turn into memories that I’ll have forever; the friends I made through God are ones that I’ll always come back to in the years to come.

Ismael Danforth
During the leadership summit, what I enjoyed most was the relationships I was able to form. In the last 72 hours, I have met so many great and amazing people, who all were welcoming and open-minded. For the time I have been here at the summit, I’ve learned what an impact the youth can make to the Lutheran community and elsewhere. Whether it’s as big as helping kids who don’t even have clean water to simply loving someone who is angry. God’s presence was seen and felt throughout the entire trip.

Through the smiles and laughter of others or the deep meaningful conversations in our group, what I will bring back to my congregation and synod is that we as a community must open up and allow other to be welcomed, instead of closing in on just ourselves. We can have events that allow us to meet other people and see other religions.

summit-4The church leadership summit I attended was the most amazing event I have ever been to; it taught me that our focus must be to help those who need it most. Thank you so much for this opportunity and amazing experience. I enjoyed every second and moment of it.

Deacon Ben Remmert
As you can see, both youth were deeply impacted by this opportunity. It was amazing to see Katherine and Ismael grow as leaders in just a few days. Katherine and Ishmael have been wonderful witnesses and leaders of the church, and I am hopeful that they will bring back a call to serve their home congregation and our synod.

I want to thank the synod for this great opportunity, and I look forward to sharing my experiences with anyone else in the future. The next ELCA Leadership Summit will be in Houston, Texas on November 2-5, 2017. God Bless!