Tag Archives: Detroit

ELCA Youth Gathering 2015: Media Coverage and Heitz-Squad Posts

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Want to read up on the ELCA Youth Gathering 2015 in Detroit?  Below are links to all of the ECT (Edgewater Congregations Together) Daily Blog Posts during the trip, a link to the ELCA Youth Gathering youtube channel with videos of speakers, worship, etc. from the Youth Gathering, and some media coverage of the Youth Gathering.

ECT blog posts from the ELCA Youth Gathering 2015:

Travel Day: Meet the Heitz-Squad

Day 1: Intro to Detroit and the Youth Gathering

Day 2: Proclaim Community

Day 3: Proclaim Justice

Day 4: Proclaim Story

Final Day

Here is the youtube channel for the ELCA Youth Gathering with highlights from the event (speakers, music, etc):
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD2BE6D47D7169CB5

News Coverage on the ELCA Youth Gathering:

Wondering about the hundreds of buses in and around Downtown Detroit Starting Today: Crain’s Detroit

Why Downtown Detroit ‘Looks like a skittles factory exploded’: Deadline Detroit

How Our Reader’s Quip Became a Lutheran Event Hashtag: Deadline Detroit

Detroiters Embrace Visiting Lutheran Teens for ‘Your Good Work for Our Area’: Deadline Detroit

30,000 Lutheran volunteers spread positivity through Downtown Detroit: The Michigan Chronicle

Focus: HOPE leads massive effort to clean blight from Detroit neighborhoods, volunteers needed: WXYZ News

Lutheran Teens Help With Large Diaper Drive: Detroit News

30,000 Lutherans Blanket Detroit to Volunteer, Worship: USA Today

American Christianity Has Been Hijacked: Huffington Post

5 Things We Learn About Lutherans From their Youth Event: Deadline Detroit

Final Day at the ELCA Youth Gathering: Heitz-Squad Style

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Today was our final day at the ELCA Youth Gathering in Detroit. We had breakfast and then checked out of our hotel before we headed to the Ford Field for our closing worship.  And we FINALLY got the chance to sit on the floor for a mass gathering!

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During worship we sat with our friends from Luther Memorial Church (which is in Lincoln Square in Chicago).  We participated in a powerful worship service led by an amazing gospel choir and the presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.  The theme for today was Rise Up to Bring Hope.  Ending the service with communion with 30,000 teenagers from all across the world and from many different backgrounds and walks of life who are inspired to rise up to proclaim good news to the world definitely brings me hope!

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After the service, we got to try Detroit’s famous Coney dog at Coney Island…

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And we cooled down with a little gelado.

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Then we headed back to the hotel and took a nap before we got on our Amtrak train.  The trip home was much more quiet than the trip to Detroit on Tuesday!

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The ECT youth had an incredible time in Detroit this week!  They were pleasantly surprised to find out that Detroit was not the city they had heard about in the news and had expected it to be.  Rather, they had encountered God there and found the city to be full of wonderful people, so many great things to do and see, and so much hope.

This week, the Heitz-Squad had the opportunity to get out of the city and neighborhoods they are familiar with and experience a new city, new culture, and new food. They met new friends from around the country and (some even across the world) and saw old ones from the synod.  They developed very close relationships with one another, worshiped in new meaningful ways, and learned about systemic injustice that is still oppressing so many people around our country and across the world.  They went out of their way to care for one another, they had deep and thoughtful conversations about important issues of injustice, they rose up together to lead hundreds of their peers in proclaiming Jesus’ good news, and they talked about how they wanted to continue rising up to proclaim justice when they return to Chicago.

On our Proclaim Story Day yesterday, we were asked to think about and write down the people who have helped us encounter God.  I very honestly wrote down each of these youth.  They are such a blessing to me, to one another, to our congregations and neighborhoods, and to the world!

Here is a reflection by Val from Ebenezer Lutheran Church:

My experience in Detroit was very unique and interesting. Seeing about 35,000 Lutherans together made this trip unforgettable. I have never been to Detroit before, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect while we were driving there. Another thing that was unforgettable was some of the neighborhoods. Abandoned houses, abandoned buildings, and abandoned lots. It was very interesting learning the history as to why these areas and buildings were the way they were. I didn’t see what I thought I would see: the “bad” side of Detroit. I saw the new, hopeful and good side of Detroit. I hope and plan to visit again sometime.

Here is an update from Ngbarazere from Unity Lutheran Church:

This trip gave me a synopsis of the providence radiating everywhere. I realized that ignorance to your surroundings contribute to power imbalances which ultimately leads to poverty, violence; sin. But even within the chaotic catastrophes, I realized that God helps motivate and guide those who recognizes unfortunate events only as obstacles to overcome. Detroit resonates a virtue of hope. It reeks of the smell of vitality, and contagiously affects all in it’s perimeter. If I’m ever searching for a deep sense of hope, I will flip through the recollection of memories experienced in Detroit.

Here is an update from John from Immanuel Lutheran Church:

Detroit: it was one of the best weeks in my life. I met loads of people and heard and saw some of the most inspiring things in my life. The speeches brought people to tears and the music brought people to their feet.  Hearing the stories of the speakers and the people we were helping out encouraged me to want to help out loads more in Chicago when I get home. Also, just being able to have fun with my friends and play around in the COBO center was great.  It was all an amazing experience, and I could not imagine being the same person in the future without this event being in my life. I can’t wait for Houston in 2018!

And here is a reflection from Maku from Unity Lutheran Church:

Detroit was an amazing experience and I can proudly say it was one of the most amazing experiences in my young life. We got to meet cool people, eat great food, see new sites, and meet in mass gatherings on the nightly basis. And I believe Detroit has given our group and the whole ELCA a deep bond with one another. I believe people were motivated to do God’s work as well back in their hometown. And most importantly, we’ve learned that in order to exceed in God’s work, we have to bear burdens, build bridges, break chains, and bring hope. The ELCA has been amazing and without it I think I would be a completely empty person without the feeling of God’s love.

Day 1 at the ELCA Youth Gathering – Heitz-Squad Style

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Day 1 at the Youth Gathering was an introduction to the city of Detroit and our week at the Youth Gathering.

We started the morning with a lesson and discussion about Detroit and its current struggles, which are symptoms of a long history of deep rooted systemic racism. We discussed how we are called to be theologians of the cross and name the reality of the evils of racism and inequality. 

I was so impressed with and proud of my youth for being incredibly thoughtful and engaged in the conversation, angry at the injustice they learned about, and passionate about having the courage when we return home to rise up together and denounce the evil sins of systemic racism and inequality in Chicago and work for justice.  

  

 The rest of the day we explored Detroit. 

               

We hung out. 

      

We did some dancing…

 And more dancing…  

And even more dancing…  

And we attended our first evening mass gathering.  

  
          

Here’s what Ngbarezere, a junior from Unity Lutheran Church, had to say:

It’s only been one day in Detroit and I am highly impressed with today’s adventure. I woke up to the delight of the prepared breakfast awaiting me and my companions. I am embarrassed to say, however, that I was glaring at the food as Emily was greeting and instructing us. 

After thirty minutes (it really felt like five minutes), we gathered on the shuttle and departed downtown. The view I witnessed was exhilarating! Canada was approximately a mile across from Detroit, the spectacular view from both sides illuminated our nervousness as soon as we stepped off of the shuttle. 

People were friendly, residents were excited, and workers were especially cheerful as the ELCA visitors swarmed their city. We visited the Cobo center, the renaissance center, and curiously peeked at the gateway to freedom slave statue. All these views were amazing and rich with memories. 

At 7:30 PM we entered the Ford Field along with 30,000 other participants from across the entire country! It was uplifting to see such a large group gather together. We sang songs, heard speakers, and learned dances throughout the entire performance. 

Afterwards we arrived back at the hotel to finish our day with pizza and a warm conversation on today’s experience. Thank you for making this all possible for us, I really enjoyed today! 

And here is a reflection from Sam, a junior from Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Today, following the first day at the youth gathering, I am simply amazed at the community and outreach of the ELCA network. There are people here from seemingly everywhere- something I was expecting, but something that’s still very impressive and, I guess, real. And they’re friendly too! The fact that just so many others are here, brings with it a real sense of purpose and capability. Because of the sheer vastness of the crowd here, I feel weirdly powerful – I feel the holy spirit. 

Regardless of what exactly is on the itenerary for each day, I’ve come to understand that we as individuals, youth groups, congregations, and churches are here together with Detroit and its people, that we are here with God to strive for social justice in all places. 

And I’m excited about that. This trip is an educational experience of an environment that is suffering, that is in need of resurrection. A place where the spirit is already present, a place where we are “waiting to catch up with the doings of Jesus,” as the keynote speaker said earlier this evening. And its great to be a part of this upbringing.