On Sunday June 29, 2014 the participants of the Western States Youth Gathering will be immersing themselves in Lutheran congregations and communities throughout Los Angeles for the service-learning portion of their experience.
Participating congregations will host between 40-60 young people and the Sunday morning will include worship, a community meal, and a service learning opportunity for the young people.
The service learning opportunities will take on a variety of forms and will depend on the culture and context of the host congregation. Many of our urban congregations have a particular ministry focus. Some of our congregations have programs for children and youth. Some are engaged in food pantry programs that address hunger. Some offer homeless services. Some have active prison ministries that include sending Bibles, letter writing, visitations and re-entry programs. Some congregations may offer labor ready work project experiences. Each congregation will welcome the WSYG participants in love and grace.
The WSYG will be utilizing the Service And Learning Leadership Team program learning process which is a four-step service learning process that includes: preparation, action, reflection, and celebration. For more information or to download the SALLT App go to www.sallt.org.
One of our major goals of this service-learning immersion is building relationships between the WSYG participants and the members of our congregations and the communities we are called to serve. We encourage young people and church/community members to worship together, to break bread together, and to learn from one another. We believe building and maintaining relationships with another human being is the hardest work there is in life. Building a beloved community that welcomes all of God’s children is the vocation that each of us is called to as disciples of Jesus. We welcome you to this unique immersion experience in the city of Angels!
Host Congregations include:
- Angelica Lutheran Church-Los Angeles
- Ascension Lutheran Church-Los Angeles
- Bethel Lutheran Church-Los Angeles
- Messiah Lutheran Church-Los Angeles
- St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church-Los Angeles
- St. Marks’s Lutheran Church-Los Angeles
- Chapel of Peace-Inglewood
- First Lutheran-Inglewood
- Holy Trinity-Inglewood
- Another Level-Gardena
- Hollywood Lutheran-Hollywood
- Hope Lutheran-Hollywood
Preparing Your Group for the WSYG Service Day
These tips can help your group have a deeper, richer experience of the WSYG Service Day:
(1) Check out the Digging In leader’s guide. Access Digging In: A Leader’s Guide to Service Learning from http://resources.elca.org (search “Digging In”). A copy will be provided to leaders at the WSYG, but downloading or ordering a copy now (free!) can give you a better idea of how the service learning process can frame your group’s overall experience.
(2) Download the SALLT Service Learning App. Go to www.sallt.org/store or search the App Store or Google Play for “SALLT.” The app’s resources include Bible passages related to service and mission, a journal, and a Leader’s Toolkit – all designed as helpful tools to support meaningful service and mission experiences.
(3) Conduct a Bible study. Find a biblical passage that fits your group (use the phone app or download the “Suggested Bible Passages” Tip Sheet from www.sallt.org/store.) Suggestions include: Matthew 28:16-20; James 2:14-26; Romans 12:3-13; Amos 5:21-24; and Matthew 25:31-46. Pay particular attention to themes of service, servant leadership, and listening and/or attending to the needs of others. To tie in the WSYG theme, you might ask how (in light of the passage) attempts at being a faithful Christian can easily become an “epic fail” or become a catalyst for “epic faith.”
(4) Bless and send your group. During a Sunday worship service, have your congregation bless your group as they prepare to travel, learn, serve, grow, and worship together. Ask the youth and adults to stand in front of the congregation and offer a special blessing – perhaps including a “laying on of hands” with the church family gathered around.
(5) Designate participants for the Service Learning Leadership Training. Select 2 youth and 1 adult for the special two-hour leadership training held during the WSYG Learning Day. These leaders will then facilitate reflection activities during the WSYG Service Day, where church groups will embark on immersion and service experiences throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
(6) Keep an open mind. Adult leaders’ attitudes about the immersion and service experiences will quickly set the tone for the rest of the group. Be open to new ideas and model grace in the face of unexpected changes.
(7) Begin thinking about “back home.” It’s never too early to start thinking how you might involve and engage youth in service and mission experiences after they return from the WSYG. In this way, the WSYG is about “planting seeds” that can grow and sprout once youth are back to their home churches, schools, and communities. Be sure to use the resources provided at the WSYG, as well as your trained Service Learning Leaders, to continue cultivating “epic faith.”