Twenty students from Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church (BELC) in Los Alamos will be among more than 30,000 high school students from across the country descending on Detroit, July 15-19 for the triennial ELCA Youth Gathering.
Where can such a large gathering be held? None other than Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions!
The students have been raising money for the past three years to allow any high school student in the congregation access to this incredible opportunity. The Gathering Extravaganza is one final push to raise needed funds.
The Gathering Extravaganza is 4:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday, June 6 at BELC, 2390 North Road.
The fund-raising event features a Detroit-themed BBQ Dinner served to the fine music of Motown. In addition, Silent Auction featuring local artisans will start online May 31, and conclude live, during the Extravaganza. The Silent Auction has something for everyone – from a 5-night accommodation at a 3 bedroom, 2 bath privately-owned condominium in Angel Fire, to a variety of art, jewelry, quilted, sewn, and crocheted goods.
Also available are collectables such as Cybis porcelain, Fenton glass, Tipperary crystal as well as toys, including Breyer horses, a large dollhouse and stuffed animals. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the evening! To bid online, please visit the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church Facebook page and open the Silent Auction Album.
Why contribute to this event? Rising up does not mean having power over, but rather, having power with. Our youth will interact with other attendees and the residents of Detroit for the betterment of all. Relationships will be created; both suffering and joys will be shared among them. The experience involves absorbing, learning and doing. The service projects include:
Beautify Detroit board-up project: Currently there are an estimated 80,000 blighted properties in Detroit. Detroit’s leaders are trying to speed up the process of demolishing vacant buildings and boarding up homes in order to create safe environments in which families can work, live, and play. ECLA Youth Gathering participants will do their part in getting rid of the damages and disinvestment, working with community leaders and residents to board up vacant homes.
Urban Garden Development: Established residents and a new, enthusiastic group of young adults are contributing to Detroit’s reinvention through urban agriculture. They are taking up the responsibility of becoming the creators of an alternative society predicated on hope, cooperation, stewardship and respect. ECLA youth will be planting new urban gardens in vacant lots, caring for existing gardens and getting to know the people whose very survival depends on the harvest of the ground.
Scholastic Summer Reading activity: Detroit public schools are in crisis. Many organizations, including Excellent Schools Detroit are doing their part to improve the education of Detroit children. They have partnered with the ELCA Youth Gathering and Scholastic to help children learn to read and love to learn. ELCA participants will interact with Detroit children using reading materials selected by Detroit teachers.
Art project: The Detroit area’s diverse population includes African American, French, Belgian, German, Latino, Polish, Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern neighbors. Each group adds its rich cultural traditions to enhance the area’s landscape. ELCA Youth Gathering participants will join community initiatives to ensure that the arts and culture remain a vital part of the Detroit community.
In 2012, 10 BELC youth attended the Youth Gathering in New Orleans. That event drew 33,609 high schoolers and was held at the Superdome. What did our youth gain from attending? Here are some of their comments.
On their faith: “It made me realize that you don’t have to be like straight and not tattooed and be completely clean to be a Christian … Everyone deserves love.” “It’s okay to have doubts right now (about faith); you don’t have to have all of the answers right now.”
On the service project: “I really liked the service project we did. We got to work with and play games and read with second graders…” “…the thing that they (the kids) loved the most was reading and they just wanted books more than anything and it was amazing to see how much they wanted to read and wanted to learn.”
On the speakers: “…unique pastors (speakers) … rocker chick with tattoos on her arms… she was just different… her life story was different from normal pastors and it really intrigued me. It just proves that you don’t have to be a certain way.”
On future attendance: “this was one of the best experiences of my life.” “Honestly, you will never experience anything like it and it is probably one of the best things you will be able to look back and say ‘Yes, I did that.’”
See you at the Extravaganza!