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Home Features Concordia Students Serve at National Youth Gathering in New Orleans

by Abigail Wisniewski


Concordia University, Nebraska volunteers and representatives used their talents to help share the theme of “In Christ Alone” with participants at the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans July 16-20. During the week, NYG showed how identity, humility and community can be found in Christ.

“Throughout the Gathering, we were reminded that we are here to serve the neighbor, that is, anyone who is in need of God’s love or our care and that to be a Lutheran is not to be a member of an exclusive, self-serving club,” President Brian Friedrich said. “It is to be the very hands and feet of Christ.”

Friedrich attended NYG with his wife, Laurie Friedrich.

Seniors Zane Francescato, Emily Kollbaum and Kenzie Woltemath got the opportunity to share their experience at Concordia with the crowd during one of NYG’s mass events.

“I was super nervous to get on the stage in front of 25,000 people,” Woltemath said. “I was excited to represent CUNE though, because every word I said was true. I’ve come into my own since being at Concordia and am truly passionate about what an incredible school this is.”

During their address, the representatives hoped to show NYG participants their positive experience at Concordia and lead them to consider becoming part of the Bulldog family.

“I hope that by encouraging them to consider Concordia, we not only promoted our school, but also assured them that there’s a family waiting here who will always encourage them in pursuing their faith, goals and dreams,” Woltemath said.

Participants at the Gathering collected various items sponsored by Concordia. Each of the 25,000 participants received a backpack, which they could adorn with buttons sporting quotes including “Kiss Me I’m Lutheran,” “I was Lutheran before it was cool” and “Party like it’s 1517.”

Dr. Kurt von Kampen, the chair of the music department, served at the Gathering by directing his fifth NYG choir. Von Kampen has directed the NYG Choir since 2004.

The choir featured around 110 participants, who dedicated part of their youth gathering experience to preparing hymns and choral anthems for performance.

“To be in the Gathering choir, you have to get up earlier than others every day to get to rehearsal, you have to prepare music in advance and you have to work pretty hard to get everything ready for public performance in only three rehearsals,” von Kampen said in an email interview. “It is fun to work with young people who have that drive and want to use their gifts to honor God.”

Director of Student Life Services Corrie Johnson was among the volunteers as a Community Life Builder. Throughout the week, she worked with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s office as well as youth volunteers to survey participants about their experiences at NYG.

Concordia students also served as Young Adult Volunteers whose jobs included introducing speakers at the interest centers, leading service projects and guiding and answering the questions of participants.

“Being able to be down there and see the difference we were making while serving in New Orleans was amazing,” sophomore Katy Ternus said.

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