National Youth Gathering volunteers pray amidst a stadium of thousands of gathering participants at the 2016 Gathering.
Photo courtesy of Corinn Selander
By Victoria Cameron
Members of Concordia’s staff have been preparing for the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Youth Gathering, more commonly known as the National Youth Gathering.
NYG is an LCMS event for high school students that happens once every three years. It lasts five days, during which students may attend morning sessions, listen to various speakers, participate in large mass events, and assist with servant events. students can also visit the interactive center, which is an area filled with booths, including a section dedicated to the Concordia University System. The 2019 Gathering will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Director of Student Development Rehema Kavugha will be helping with the Gathering for the fourth time this year. In the past, she has worked at a booth in the interactive center and has helped plan and organize the mass events. This time, she will be speaking in a morning session, which is similar to Bible study.
The morning sessions will focus on Psalm 46. The Gathering derived its 2019 theme, “Real. Present. God.,” from the reading.
To prepare for the Gathering, Kavugha has met with her fellow speakers as well as teams for other events.
“What happens in the morning also directly ties into the mass events, which is how the day ends,” Kavugha said. “So, it’s important that those two teams work together as we bookend the day using Psalm 46, in this case, so that as a team we work to make sure we are sharing the same message, and are able to help one another in conveying to youth what we’re trying to share with them and help them think about as they read the Psalms.”
Besides her meetings, Kavugha has prepared by writing her “script” for her Bible study. She has also helped write Bible study materials that have been sent out to groups attending the Gathering.
“We are at the point where we have a script pretty well done, and then we’ll work on breathing life into it on our own,” Kavugha said.
Kavugha and her team have been working for a year, and now have little they can do until mid-May, a month-and-a-half before the Gathering.
Many Concordia students, faculty and staff attended the Gathering as high school students and are now going as Young Adult Volunteers or Adult Volunteers. Director of Student Academic Services Corrie Johnson is one of those Adult Volunteers.
Johnson attended NYG twice as a student and has since gone as part of the Concordia admissions office to promote the university and to serve as a Community Life Builder. This year, she will be a CLB again, although she has not yet received her one-on-one assignment. It will be her first year attending a Gathering in Minneapolis.
“In previous years I’ve always gone to the Gathering and it’s been at a place it’s been hosted at before, but this will be the first time to serve in Minneapolis, so that’ll be exciting to explore a new city with thousands of other Lutherans,” Johnson said.
Both Kavugha and Johnson are excited to see old connections.
“I think it’s always really neat when we get together, especially on the planning side of things, in Minneapolis this year, to see how many students and adults really represent Concordia and get to be a part of this, and that’s always a ton of fun,” Kavugha said.
Johnson said she was looking forward to meeting up with friends from her home state.
“I get very excited to have the opportunity again and just to gather with other people that I’ve gotten to meet over the years, and old classmates and old people from Missouri, where I’m originally from,” Johnson said.
The Gathering will take place July 11-15.