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August 19, 2010

1,000 Lutheran and Anglican Youth Gather in London, Ontario; Youth Challenged to Find Their Place in the Church

In a room packed to capacity almost 1000 Lutheran and Anglican youth from across Canada came together for the start of the 2010 Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering taking place in downtown London, Ontario, August 19-22.

They travelled by bus, plane, car and train to get here and yet in some ways the journey has just begun. Over the next four days, youth will participate in worship, prayer, large group gatherings, Home Team time, smaller forums, and servant events – all part of CLAY 2010.

The first of six large group gatherings kicked off the four-day event with a live band, drama troupe, a “parade of Bishops,” and keynote speaker – The Rev’d Canon William Cliff, Rector of The Collegiate Chapel of St. John the Evangelist at Huron University College and parish priest for Huron University College and the Anglican Community at the University of Western Ontario.

“I want scripture to come alive for you,” exclaimed Cliff as he laid out three ground rules for the youth to follow for his presentations during the gathering and for when reading scripture in general. The rules included: The Gospel is always astonishing; The Gospel is never fair – “because the Gospel is about grace”; and God always acts first. “We are going to find the most unfair, grace-filled, astonishing reading in which God acts first,” declared Cliff.

Cliff appealed to the technologically savvy youth by looking up the scripture reading for his keynote on his Bible, “which looks like an iPad,” he joked. Speaking of the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard, from the Gospel of Matthew, Cliff challenged youth to consider “how much is enough in the kingdom of God?”

In the text each labourer received one denarius, the standard daily wage at the time. “One measure is enough, no need for more, no need for less,” said Cliff, “It is a strange message for us to hear – you and I have been surrounded all our life with the message that more is better!”

Cliff challenged youth in the church to stand up and find their place. “We need you,” he said. “If we don’t have you, we don’t have a now, let alone a future.”

The Rev. Michael Pryse, Bishop of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, and The Right Rev. Robert Bennett, Bishop of the Diocese of Huron in the Anglican Church of Canada, brought greetings on behalf of the host synod/diocese.

Pryse spoke of how the gathering theme, Hands Up, can be interpreted as a “posture of gratitude” in many different languages and cultures. “This week you will uncover many pearls in one another, in worship, in laughter, in the large group gatherings - let’s do it with our hands up!” he said.

In addition to large group gathering times, participants will attend forums which will allow them to meet in smaller groups and discuss topics such as emerging church, what the church looks like from an Aboriginal perspective, how youth can engage with justice issues globally and locally in meaningful ways, and peer-led workshops on friendship, grieving, life choices and forgiveness.

The gathering takes place every two years and involves youth between the ages of 14-19. This is the first joint gathering between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and Anglican Church of Canada.

Further information on the gathering, along with highlights are available on the CLAY website at www.clay2010.ca and on the Facebook page for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 152,500 baptized members in 607 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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