Winnipeg, 22 August 2012 You may never know how your connections may have inspired you or others in their faith, you just have to trust that this will happen, Rev. Dennis Hendricksen told a packed theatre of youth at the closing of the 2012 Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering.
Speaking on the theme of the gathering Hyperlink, which explores the connections that run through our lives Rev. Hendricksen shared with youth how his attendance at a youth gathering back in 1976 paved the way for his participation at this years event.
A veteran of 17 youth gatherings, Rev. Hendericksen told of the various connections that have woven across his path since his first gathering. Holding up an autograph book from that event he explained, I am here because some people in the past thought it was a good idea to go to a youth gathering and paved the way for me to do so.
Rev. Hendricksen encouraged youth to reach out to connect with one another through a variety of means. An ember removed from the flame quickly loses its light and heat, he stated. We need each other. God does not want just some of us. God wants all of us to be connected. It is your job to help expand the network.
Over 800 Lutheran and Anglican youth from across the country converged at TCU Place in Saskatoon, SK for the national youth gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC).
Rev. Hendricksen was one of six keynote speakers at the event, which also featured messages from ELCIC and ACC bishops.
ELCIC National Bishop Susan C. Johnson and ACC Montreal Diocesan Bishop Barry Clarke also spoke at the final large group gathering on Sunday and encouraged youth to find opportunities to share their faith stories, to follow Jesus and live a life full of love and good works.
"It makes a difference to live following Jesus," said Bishop Johnson. "It makes a huge difference in my life to live following Jesus. And it makes a big difference in the world around us."
Anglican National Indigenous Bishop Mark MacDonald was a keynote speaker on Friday morning at the 2nd of 6 large group gatherings.
Bishop MacDonald encouraged youth to open their eyes, ears, hands and hearts to all of creation. Reach out to one another. Embrace one another, he said. God is calling you to be something great. Something important. To do something that matters. And to do it together.
Music and drama were at the center of the large group gathering experiences. Participants also got to attend smaller and more specialized forums on Friday and Saturday where topics ranged from question and answer time with ELCIC and ACC Bishops Johnson and Clarke; to music writing workshops; to exploring the meaning of development and justice with Canadian Lutheran World Relief and Development (CLWR) and the Primates World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF); to discussing the Bible in a Sacred Circle, led by Anglican Indigenous youth leaders; to a workshop from KAIROS on the blanket exercise which explored the historic relationship between Europeans and the Indigenous nations.
On Thursday night, CLAY 2012 participants took to the street as part of a Facebook-it event, which had them out and about in downtown Saskatoon. Youth had to gather as many friends as possible by locating guests and leaders at CLAY who were disguised in some way. Youth had to ask, will you be my Facebook friend. If they found one of the players, they would be rewarded with the response, yes, but only if we hyperlink. The objective of the scavenger hunt was to encourage youth to get out into the community and be engaged in their surroundings.
CLAY 2012 took place August 16-19 in Saskatoon, SK. National youth gatherings take place every two years. This is the second time the gathering has been jointly organized between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada.
It was announced at the end of the gathering that CLAY 2014 is taking place in Kamloops, BC.