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updated: 7/5/2012 1:44 PM

Young people from Wheaton's St. Paul Lutheran Church to join the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans

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  • June 10 gathering of young people from St Paul Lutheran, along with six teens from St Luke Glen Ellyn

    June 10 gathering of young people from St Paul Lutheran, along with six teens from St Luke Glen Ellyn

John Campbell

On July 17th, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Wheaton will send a group of 28 young people, along with six teens from St Luke Glen Ellyn, on their annual Summer Mission Trip to join more than 37,000 young Lutherans from around the country for the ELCA 2012 Youth Gathering in New Orleans. Lutheran teens from 30 Chicago area congregations from the Metro Chicago Synod of the ELCA will caravan to the event by charter bus.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) holds the Youth Gathering, one of the largest of its kind, every three years.

From July 18 to July 22, youth and adults who participate will be immersed in worship, music, Bible study, service, learning, play, prayer, the witness of faithful leaders from around the world, reflection, caring for others, and new friendships during this experience.

The theme for the 2012 event is Citizens with the Saints, with a focus on Ephesians 2:14 -- 20; here's some of it paraphrased:

In his life and death on the cross, Jesus broke down the dividing walls so that we are no longer strangers and outsiders, but we are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.

This is not the first ELCA Youth Gathering in the Crescent City. New Orleans, with its rich faith history, compelling stories, diverse cultures and expressive arts communities, almost seems to beckon these young Christians. Here, the ELCA finds both the need and the welcoming spirit to make the journey more meaningful.

We believe that this 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering experience will not only benefit the youth who participate, but that the wider community of Wheaton and beyond will also benefit as these youth -- touched by the people and stories of New Orleans -- return home to share their gifts of faith and love with others.