Every three years, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America holds a National Youth Gathering and this year it was held in New Orleans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and nearby convention center. It was held in New Orleans three years ago as well, and church officials said they came back to finish what they started in helping the city further recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Before they got to New Orleans, all the teens were immersed in the three core practices — justice, peacemaking and discipleship — during an intensive six-month educational program at their home churches, according to information posted on the ECLA website.
“The core practices — Discipleship, Peacemaking and Justice — serve to accentuate God’s greatest commandment: to love the Lord our God and our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34–40),” the website declares.
To learn more about those practices, the youths are spending part of their time here doing mission projects in the area, including Baton Rouge, where they conducted reading festivals at schools on Thursday and Friday.
Three more reading festivals are scheduled for noon Saturday for children living in neighborhoods near:
- Cadillac Street BREC Park, 6000 Cadillac St.
- Red Oaks BREC Park, 2100 Greenoaks Drive.
- Melrose Elementary School, 1348 Valcour Drive.
The first Lutheran youth gatherings began in 1895, according to the conference site, but officially, after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was established, the first modern “Gathering” took place in San Antonio in 1988. Youth Gatherings have been growing in numbers throughout the years, especially the last 30 years. Gatherings prior to 1988 occurred in Denver .; Banff/Alberta, Canada; Lafayette, Ind.; Houston; Detroit; New York City, New York; Seattle; Missoula, Mont.; and Miami.
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