Title: This Changes Everything

Description: Calling all High School Youth who are curious about the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston. Come and see what all the talk is about! This is the BIGGEST ELCA HIGH SCHOOL PARTY EVER!! Don’t know what to expect? Not sure if you want to go? Have questions? Let’s discover it together and answer questions!!!

Presenters: Amanda Pulos is the Gathering Synod Coordinator for Pacifica Synod and leads a team of youth from King of Glory Lutheran Church in Fountain Valley, California.

Title: This Changes Everything

Description: This workshop is intended for Adults considering taking high school youth to the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering in Houston. The time is now! Start planning by learning the ins and outs of taking students to a Gathering. Come and explore new ideas for fundraisers, transportation, and other details of what you need to know as you get ready to bring your group next summer.

Presenter: Janet Renick is the Gathering Synod Coordinator for the Southwest California Synod and serves as Director of Youth and Family Ministries at Christ Lutheran Church in West Covina, California.

Title: What are the Giants in Your Life?

Description: We are conditioned to be self-sufficient and “in control.” But what happens when things get “out of control?” What happens when things get too “big” and we can no longer manage them on our own? Addiction is a form of control, and takes on many shapes and sizes. This workshop looks at various forms of addiction, how to recognize it, and what to do to address it.

Presenters: Pastor Dan Gibson is a Lutheran pastor and chemical dependency counselor here in Southern California. He is presently the Interim pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Carson and the co-chair of the Southwest California Synod’s Recovery and Spirituality Team. Shannon Savage-Howie is a deacon in the ELCA, as well as a certified spiritual director. She is a former youth minister. Shannon currently works in treatment facilities with people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and is a co-chair of the Southwest California Synod’s Recovery and Spirituality Task Force.

Title: Holy Yoga

Description: Holy Yoga is an experiential worship created to deepen people’s connection to Christ through yoga. This is open to everyone, even if you have never done yoga or feel you aren’t flexible, you are welcome.

Presenter: Pr. Kaila Armbruster serves Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Grand Junction, Colorado and has been a yoga instructor since November. She loves her husband and wonderful newborn daughter and they all love the outdoors, being in God’s beautiful creation and their 3 dogs and 2 cats!

Title: Secrets of the Church

Description: Join in conversation about why we do what we do in worship and what the church-y names are for all those things we use around the church. Bring your questions, queries, wonderings as well as your experience, answers, and wisdom!

Presenter: Pr. Katy Grindberg serves as Assistant to the Bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod. She is a 2006 graduate of PLTS of CLU in Berkeley and earned an MA in Liturgical Studies from the GTU, also in Berkeley. These experiences only make her mildly competent to lead this conversation. Come and stump the pastor!

Title: Religious Diversity and Faith Formation

Description: It’s tempting to question Christian faith when we encounter the faith of others; we should! The faithfulness of others shows God to us in new ways, prompting us to search the depths of Christianity. Faith is made stronger when we embrace diversity. Even more, our faith pushes us to stand up for others when they are threatened or mistreated because of their faith.

Presenters: Oliver Windham-Hughes (age 13) loves to learn about the faith lives of others. His mom Colleen is a professor of religion at California Lutheran University, where she specializes in interfaith leadership, religious diversity, and faith formation.

Title: Dreaming Big: A healthy planet and healthy people

Description: Climate change is real – food and water supplies, spread of disease, climate refugees, extreme weather events – can we make a difference in caring for our neighbors and all God’s creatures great and small? Our faith, God’s gift of science, public policy, and our choices matter. Let’s celebrate God’s earth and dream big together!

Presenter: Mark Carlson is Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California and has a graduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana

Title: Introduction to Improv

Description: Every conversation you have, you use the skill of improvisation. So you already have some of the basic building blocks to be successful in improve comedy. In our time together, we will look at and develop some of these same techniques that you’ve seen on the show “Whose Line is It Anyway?” Pretty soon people will be saying “Wayne Brady who?” Come and check it out!

Presenters: Sam Manuel has been studying and performing improve comedy for the past 9 years in the L.A. area. He also has several other acting credits to his name. He is also the youth director at Bethel Lutheran Church in Encino, California.
Michael J. Sielaff is a 10-year veteran of the Hollywood improve scene. You may have seen him on shows such as “The New Girl” and “The Mindy Project.” Currently he can be seen in a ad. He also attends Bethel Lutheran Church in Encino.

Title: Looking for God in all the Right Places: Nurturing Faith that Lasts Beyond High School

Description: Bishop Andy Taylor of the Pacifica Synod just completed research for a doctoral project on youth ministry practices that helped nurture adult faith and church involvement in former youth group members. In his workshop, he will share the results of his research, and will guide the group in youth ministry activities that may help teens become more grounded in faith.

Presenter: Bp. Andy Taylor served as a parish pastor for almost 30 years when he was elected bishop of the Pacifica Synod. His first call was as a youth and family pastor, and he served on youth ministry leadership teams in the both the Pacifica and Sierra Pacific synods.

Title: Claiming our Gifts – Why the ELCA matters in our world today!

Description: Ever have a gift you didn’t know you possessed? Our church, the ELCA, has some amazing gifts to offer to our world. Come discover the many gifts of your church and find new ways that you can join in sharing them.

Presenter: Bp. Jim Gonia serves as Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod. Prior to that he served as a missionary, a parish pastor, and on the staff of ELCA Global Mission unit.

Title: Connection Communities

Description: Are you more of a dog filter or flower crown filter on Snapchat? Are you a “Chance the Rapper” or an “Ariana Grande”? In this workshop, we’re going to figure out who we are, and how are our personalities form our communities. We’ll explore ways of listening, ways of talking, and ways of being that can help us overcome challenges in connecting with one another.

Presenters: Tyler Freckmann and Catherine Slabaugh both work in communications, handling all types of people in all types of environments. They’re excited to learn what type of cereal you eat in the morning! Or maybe just your personality type 😉

Title: Dream Loud

Description: Love music? We do as well. Maybe even too much! So, let’s talk about music. Let’s talk about your Spotify, Pandora or itunes playlists. Who are you listening to? Who did you just discover? What’s you go-to hype song? Why? If the music you turn up speaks to you, then what does it say about you? What does the music you love (or not love) say about your relationships, your hopes, your desires, your dreams, your faith? So, let’s talk about music.

Presenters: Nathan Maxwell-Doherty is the Camp Director of Luther Glen in Oak Glen, California. Anthony Eder is the Director of Outreach for Lutheran Retreats, Camps & Conferences in Southern California. Two camp dudes living the camp dream!

Title: The Spirituality of Surfing

Description: There is a soul to surfing that can actually help us connect with God. We will learn about waves and meditation while watching some surf videos. Current surfers, wanna be surfers, or just web surfers are all welcome!

Presenter: Pastor Dave Nagler is a surfer who serves at Christ Lutheran Church in San Diego. He is married to a surfer named Ivy. His daughters, Rachel and Naomi, are way cooler than he is.


Description: Dreaming of a world of mutuality. BAFA BAFA is an exercise in cultural immersion. Two teams of fictional culture will attempt to analyze, decipher, and immerse themselves in the other’s culture. This exercise will help anchor a brief discussion about how we view difference in the world.

Presenter: Rev. Yehiel Curry is Mission Developer and Pastor of Shekinah Chapel Lutheran Church in Chicago. He is also Camp Executive for SAFE In My Brothers Arms (SIMBA), Safe In My Sisters Arms (SIMSA) and Multicultural Youth Leadership Academy (MYLA) camps. Pastor Yehiel is husband to Lashonda and father to Shemiah, Ashirah and Shekinah.

Title: Drawing your Dream

Description: Have you ever had an idea or vision and think: “that would be really cool, but it’ll never happen”? No matter the scope of your dream, big, small, or somewhere in-between – seeing those visions through to reality can be pretty difficult. Rather than lists and logic – perhaps a more creative approach is needed. Drawing your dream gives you a more tangible view of your desires and helps you to creatively think about your vision. This is not about being an artist – it’s about giving life to your dreams. Come join us; pick up a pencil and see what happens!

Presenter: Molly Schrey feels most at home when she’s around youth; whether it’s at her home congregation in the Silicon Valley as a youth volunteer, or with her students at West Valley College.

Title: Dreaming of a World Without Measurements

Description: We live in a world that is constantly measuring us. People with disabilities know of those measurements all too well. Come dream of a world where we break through the measurements and accept all people, not on the basis of their abilities, but on the basis of God’s love and grace.

Presenter: Rev. Brian Krause is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Arcadia, Ohio. Pastor Brian has been an advocate for the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the life of the church for many years. Pastor Brian started Camp Able, a camp for youth with disabilities, at Joy Ranch in South Dakota.

Title: Many Faces: Who are you? Who are your friends? Who are your neighbors? Who are we?

Description: Philippians 4:9 – “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
When people see you, what do they see? What do they hear? And what does our character say about who we are? Lets explore these questions and talk about what makes us us.

Presenter: Luis E. Ochoa was born in Guatemala City, but grew up in South Central, Los Angeles. He is currently the youth director of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wasilla, Alaska. He likes the outdoors and spending time with his family. He has served in children,
youth and family ministry for the last thirteen years.

Title: Undergraduate Admission – The benefits of a private liberal arts education

Description: What can California Lutheran University offer prospective college students? This workshop will answer that question as well as general questions about the college application process. We will also be discussing the benefits of attending a Private Christian University and what we look for in an application and personal statement.

Presenter: Courtney Vendetti, Cal Lutheran Admission Counselor. She graduated from CLU in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology.

Title: What is My Mission in Life?

Description: Sometimes it helps to stop and take notice of what we care about, what we’re good at, and how we can contribute to God’s world. In this hour we will think about those things, and create a Personal Mission Statement to guide our life’s focus, energy and dreams on who we want to become. We will DREAM BIG as we think about how the person God created us to be is gifted to serve the world.

Presenter: Rev. Holly Johnson is a Lutheran pastor, and the Director of Admissions for Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. She loves music and poetry, and is intent on making the church a safe place for all kinds of people to be.

Title: Ending Hunger Together

Description: ELCA World Hunger dreams of a world in which all are fed. Join us as we learn more about the comprehensive approach that is needed to end hunger. Participants will engage with interactive activities that allow them to encounter issues related to hunger and think about the gifts each person has to help end hunger and poverty.

Presenter: Iain Chester is Coordinator for Engagement & Established Networks with ELCA World Hunger. He loves seeing the ways in which the church is creating and participating in community in unique and new ways.

Title: Climate Justice: Understanding and Action for a Bright Future

Description: All too often by organizations and the media, “the environment” is presented as a stand-alone issue. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the climate crisis is intimately connected to many justice issues, including poverty, public health, economic and clean energy job creation. This workshop will cover this inter-connection in an engaging and inter-active manner and demonstrate the strength of youth in building a cleaner, brighter future.

Presenter: Allis Druffel is currently the Southern California Outreach Director for California Interfaith Power and Light, working with congregations on energy efficiency, renewable energy, education, and policy advocacy. She has been involved with the issue of climate change for twelve years, and often integrates her first career as a classical singer with environmental issues.

Title: Who is my Neighbor? Jesus and the Immigration Crisis

Description: Roughly 14% of the US population were born in another country. Immigrants and refugees live in communities across the U.S., they are your neighbors. Jesus said in Matthew 25 that welcoming the stranger is welcoming him. However, our current immigration system is ineffective, illogical and inhumane. This workshop will answer your immigration questions about the immigration crisis, who is affected (from Dreamers to Central American Unaccompanied Minors and their families) and the variety of Christian responses which are making a difference.

Title: Rev. Alexia Salvatierra has been working with the church’s response to immigration issues for over 30 years. She is the co-founder of the New Sanctuary Movement, the Evangelical Immigration Table, the Guardian Angels program and Matthew 25.

Title: Gun Violence Awareness and Prevention

Description: Every day in this country, nearly 100 people die from gun violence. While some shootings are malevolently purposeful, others happen by accident. This can be remedied by stricter laws that need to be enforced as well as simple things we can do at home. This workshop provides both facts and misconceptions about this national epidemic and what YOU can do to make a difference.

Presenters: Virginia Classick and Pastor Dan Gibson are the co-chairpersons of the Episcopal-Lutheran Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Title: God, Glue, and You!

Description: Destruction and construction – help us make art for our worship service. This is a quiet space to rip, glue and collage a puzzle, then when it’s put together it will make sacred art. Create large art projects expressing your dreams that will then become part of the main stage set.

Presenter: Pr. Megan Rohr serves at Grace Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Megan has a deep appreciation for making art and seeking justice and welcome for all.

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