We all remember with horror the ways in which traditional views on such matters as human sexuality were rejected and belittled at the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering. Here is a link to an article in the Summer 2018 issue of CORE Voice newsletter about that event, including the way in which ELCA public theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber led 32,000 young people in a chant rejecting Biblically faithful views as a lie from Satan. I think it is very interesting that as of the time of my writing this article, the website for this summer’s ELCA youth gathering – taking place in July in New Orleans – does not yet include the names of the keynote speakers. However, in the information for churches that will be sending their youth, there are more than enough reasons for congregations that take the Bible and the historic Christian faith seriously to stay far away.
Here is a link to the information that has been prepared to help youth and youth leaders get ready for the gathering. The theme for the event is “Created to Be.” The preparatory materials are divided into five sections with two sessions each. We have been Created to Be Brave, Authentic, Free, and Disruptive Disciples. Each of the ten sessions starts out with a land acknowledgment, stating who were the original inhabitants of the land on which the gathering will be held, and from whom the land was stolen. Not only is the ELCA conditioning its young people to think and feel negatively about the country in which they live, they are also displaying their blatant and pompous hypocrisy. The ELCA is totally ignoring ways in which synods are abusing power and misusing a constitutional provision to take over the property of congregations. Also I am not aware of any situation where a synod has returned the proceeds from the sale of the property of a closed congregation to the original inhabitants of the land. Rather synods use this income to fund their radical-left agenda as their congregations, number of congregations, and the income from congregations continue to diminish.
The preparatory materials are filled with examples of ways in which the ELCA is indoctrinating its young people. For example, the “Go Deeper” section of Session 2 of Unit 5 (Disciples) makes the statement, “Many of our young people have experienced Christians who do harm, speak hatefully, and work for laws that hurt our neighbors.” The youth are then asked, “What negative words come to mind when you think of Christians or disciples? What harm have you seen people do in Jesus’ name?” In contrast, in the “Go Deeper” section of Session 1 of Unit 5 the young people are asked, “Is your church a Reconciling in Christ congregation? If so, how long did your church take to make that commitment and adopt a welcome statement? If not, what would it mean for you if your congregation became a Reconciling in Christ congregation?” Any pastor who does not want the congregation to become Reconciling in Christ – and/or does not want the issue to be raised within the congregation – needs to be forewarned. Also, the implication is that people with traditional views do harm, speak hatefully, and work for laws that hurt people, while congregations that are Reconciling in Christ are accepting, loving, and wonderful.
And how does the ELCA indoctrinate the people who work with its young people? Information regarding the general session speakers for the ELCA’s Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza being held this month also in New Orleans is available. Here is a link to the website for this gathering for leaders in youth ministry.
Looking at the bios for the general session speakers, you will see that the overwhelming emphasis is on LGBTQ+ ideology as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Here is information regarding three of the five general session speakers. If you want your ministry to and with your young people to be anything other than that, you need to look elsewhere.
- Jamie Bruesehoff is listed as an “award-winning LGBTQ+” advocate. Jamie and her at-the-time pre-adolescent transgender child spoke at the 2018 youth gathering. She describes her experiences raising a transgender child as “rooted in her queer identity.” She is the author of Raising Kids beyond the Binary: Celebrating God’s Transgender and Gender-Diverse Children.
- The Rev. Carla Christopher (she/they) is co-chair of the ELCA’s Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church and chaplain for Proclaim, which her bio describes as “an ELCA ministry that supports LGBTQIA2S+ seminarians and rostered leaders.” She serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Justice Ministries in two ELCA synods and is a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Consultant for multiple synods and faith-based organizations.
- Deacon Ross Murray is director of the Naming Project. The website for that organization describes their goal as to “provide a safe and sacred space where youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities are named and claimed by a loving God.” They also work to “advocate for systemic change in church and society.”
If that is what you want your congregation’s youth ministry to be all about, more power to you. If that is not what you want, stay far away from both gatherings and from any potential youth worker who attends or who would promote either or both gatherings.