They travelled by bus, car and plane to get here, some logging over 5,000 km in their journey. Even 10 hour travel days didn’t dampen their spirits as 12 buses arrived enroute from Edmonton (the meeting place for youth flying in from across the country) to Whitehorse for the 2008 Canadian Lutheran Youth Gathering (CLYG) taking place August 14-17.
Their arrival was quickly noticed by many in this city of 24,000 (now 25,000 for the next four days). Clusters of CLYG youth are easily spotted in downtown Whitehorse during free time in the gathering agenda. And two non-profit organizations in the community will directly benefit from youth servant events; participants have brought with them donations for Kaushee’s Place, a transition house for women and their children, and Mary House, a centre that assists primarily men on the street.
The community of Whitehorse, including local congregation Trinity Lutheran, have been very generous in their support of the gathering. The worship space, which is set up in one of several arenas in the Canada Games Centre, features many items donated by local businesses including a cross, altar and baptismal font donated by a log-house builder who measured and carved the items to specification.
High on the hill overlooking downtown Whitehorse at the Canada Games Centre, the gathering commenced late Thursday afternoon with the first of six large group gatherings.
First Nations groups from the community brought greetings and prayers to the youth noting, “it is good to know people are alive for God. It is good to see so many people lifting up God.”
Keynote speaker Rev. Fred Ludolph, executive director of Edgewood Camp and Conference Centre, spoke on the various interpretations of the gathering theme, Travel Light. The theme calls on participants to think about the role they have in being good stewards of all of God’s creation and challenges youth to imagine how they can be a light for the world as they make their way back home from the gathering and share their stories with others.
Bishop Ron Mayan of the Synod of Alberta and the Territories shared his personal reflections on what it means to be a light of God and to Travel Light. Reflecting on his own personal calling and his struggles to accept that call, Bishop Mayan told youth, “God will provide you with the tools you need. God will take out the barriers. Travel Light – anticipate side trips, navigate detours by God’s grace and hold onto your map lightly.”
In addition to the large group gathering times, participants will attend forums which will allow them to meet as smaller groups and discuss topics such as leadership in the Lutheran community, the significance of our northern climate and environment, and project Reunion – the 2006-08 National Youth Project which raised funds for the youth of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bolivia.
The gathering takes place every two years and involves youth between the ages of 14-19. The gathering is planned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) but involves both Lutheran and Anglican youth.
Further information on the gathering, along with daily highlights are available on the ELCIC youth website: http://youth.elcic.ca/travellight/home.php
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 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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