Dear Partners in Mission:
One of my goals as bishop has been to prioritize youth and young adult ministry. We have done that in a number of ways including hosting the first ever “Bishop’s Group” for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, holding young adult retreats over Christmas break, bringing youth together for Confirmation Fest, and in many other ways. One way I know for sure we can impact young people is through supporting and encouraging them to participate in Lutheran Campus Ministry. This includes supporting our campus ministry here in NT-NL in Denton as well as encouraging young people to connect with campus ministry or a local congregation wherever they might go to college.
Each year the ELCA invites pastors and youth leaders to submit the names of their graduating seniors to connect them with campus ministry. This has worked to an extent however, in 2021 NT-NL partnered with LuMin-Austin to support a summer internship that would be more intentional and accountable in connecting to congregations across Texas. This internship was funded by a special grant from our 2021 budget made possible due to the tremendous stewardship of our Synod Executive leadership in 2020 that made additional funds available this year for special mission projects. In the video here I interview Intern Cecie Suknaic Saulnier who conducted the project and got some insights from her as well as highlights.
I would encourage you to watch the video to get the full picture of the project. However, some highlights were that she:
- Connected with 276 ELCA Congregations in Texas,
- 34% response rate (96 congregations),
- 49 cong. reported having High School Seniors (51%),
- Doubled number of names submitted to Texas ELCA Campus Ministries in comparison to 2020.
What this demonstrates to me is that this sort of intentional, accountable, name-gathering can and does pay dividends and was a good investment by our synod. We will look for ways to support this sort of project again in 2022.
As of today our plans for gathering for worship and fun at Briarwood on September 11th are still on. Again, this event will be outside, masks encouraged at all times and required for any indoor activities. So please plan to join us, particularly at noon for worship. Please also consider your own Covid-19 protocols as we are in a significant fourth wave surge of cases. What we know for sure is that masks work to prevent people from spreading the virus, distancing and having events outside is safer, and the vaccine significantly reduces the severity of the virus. For all who are sick we pray including Jan Lund, the spouse of SAWL Dan Lund, who has contracted the virus and who requests our prayers.
God bless you in your work this week. Know you are daily in my prayers.