Gustavus at National Gathering Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

Rev. Grady St. Dennis '92, director of church relations, will be part of Gustavus' delegation.

Rev. Grady St. Dennis '92, director of church relations, will be part of Gustavus' delegation.

By Amy McMullan ’10

Once every three years, thousands of high school students come together from around the nation for the ELCA National Youth Gathering. A team of 10 individuals from Gustavus Adolphus College will join the 36,000 Lutheran youth and their leaders in New Orleans July 23-26 for this year’s Gathering, Jesus Justice Jazz.

Participants will gather each evening for worship in the Louisiana Superdome, where they will listen to speakers including Rev. Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, and Liz McCartney, founder of the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans. In addition, contemporary Christian artists will lead praise. A variety of other opportunities are planned, including Bible study, service, learning, play, and prayer.

Daily activities are split into three categories—ServantLife, the Learning Mall, and the Interaction Center. This year’s Gathering will have a much stronger focus on service—helping New Orleans continue to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

“There is an ongoing need for recovery. The number of students who will be serving in the communities is a new element. A third of the participants (12,000 people) will be out in the community serving each day,” said Rev. Grady St. Dennis ’92, Gustavus’s director of church relations.

“New Orleans has its moments of glory, as well as times of tribulation. I am eager to try and assist the rebuilding efforts of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina,” said Peter Michaletz ’12 who will be part of the Gustavus Gathering team.

The theme Jesus Justice Jazz provides endless learning experiences and discussions. High school students will engage in conversations about how faith interacts with health and wellness, arts and culture, the environment, poverty, literacy, and housing.

“These issues that have been identified are some of our world’s key issues today. Gustavus needs to be a part of this particular event, because we are a part of the solution and the conversation for these issues now. We are powerful and we have a purpose. We have been called to something,” said St. Dennis. The Gathering will also be an opportunity to introduce high school students to Lutheran higher education.

Some of the participants may not have even considered attending a Lutheran college before, which makes it a perfect opportunity to present them with the option to continue to grow in their faith at Gustavus,” said Phoebe Breed ’12, who will also be representing Gustavus.

The spirit of the Gathering is expected to continue long after the 36,000 participants leave New Orleans. “It’s not just a now thing. The students will be challenged to take a next step. On Nov. 7, Gustavus will be a regional site to a “next step” event. It’s now about bringing the Gathering to St. Peter,” said St. Dennis.

This follow-up event Jesus Justice Jazz: The Tour is meant to re-ignite the spirit of the Gathering. Christian artists David Scherer ’99 (aka Agape), Lost and Found, and Rachel Kurtz will perform at this on-campus fall 2009 event.


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