On Saturday, June 13th, the Virginia Synod Virtual Youth Assembly connected over 70 youth and adult leaders throughout our synod in a new way. Attendees joined in a Zoom meeting from their homes, a change in the event’s typical in-person format due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. The Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) president Mairi Bachman of Grace, Winchester led the event which centered on the theme “Peace Be With You”.
During the Youth Assembly, songs were sung led by Pastor Dave Delaney the Director for Youth and Young Adult ministry. Although all participants were muted to listen to Dave’s guitar, they were invited to sing in their homes as loudly as they would have if they had gathered together! The youth also heard from a variety of speakers, including Bishop Humphrey who brought greetings from the Office of the Bishop, Assistant to the Bishop Pastor Kelly Bayer Derrick who led a discussion about social justice initiatives, and Rachel Alley the ELCA Program Director for Youth Ministry who brought news and thanksgiving for youth in our congregations.
Break out time was held for chat rooms to discuss and debate the issues that matter most to the Virginia Synod youth. Some of the topics for this year’s breakout rooms included planning for school amid COVID-19, responding to racism, the role of technology in the church and in our lives, keeping your faith, and the ever-popular random debates.
The event concluded with elections of the LYO board. All nominations were voted by acclamation as part of this year’s virtual gathering, and the incoming LYO Board president will be Chas Downs of Christ, Roanoke. In addition to Chas, the following youth were elected as well: Rebekah Williams of Grace & Glory, Palmyra serving as the 11th-grade representative, Nathan Rummel of Trinity, Newport News serving the 10th-grade representative, Asher Porter of Our Saviour, Christiansburg serving as the 9th-grade representative, and Hunter Simpkins of Grace, Chesapeake serving as the multicultural representative. An 8th-grade representative will be appointed later in the summer.
We are so proud that our Virginia Synod youth are working to stay connected to one another and the church during this time of the pandemic. While this event was different in format, we are happy that with worship, break out discussion groups, and Youth Assembly fun the event was still a rich gathering of the Body of Christ.