When 22,000 young people descended on Minneapolis as part of the 2019 National Youth Gathering, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of the event’s leaders and volunteers came from Concordia Irvine.
“It was very impressive how Irvine people were touching so many aspects of this experience,” says Rebecca Duport ’98, director of CUI’s DCE program. “We had people speaking at sessions, leading interactive sections, working on tech teams, singing on the main stage and much more. It was really cool to see that our students, faculty, staff and alumni are so talented that they can span the whole breadth of the gathering, from boots on the ground to people who are calling the shots for the main event.”
The NYG is the largest gathering in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod body, and takes place every three years in a different city. This year, thousands of young people, plus LCMS pastors, parents, DCEs, youth leaders, and many others, filled the U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings play, and the nearby convention center to attend breakout sessions and nightly mass sessions, and performed missions work all over town.
Nine speakers on the main stage and in breakout rooms were from Concordia Irvine, including professor Jeff Mallinson ’96 who “rocked it like nobody’s business,” says Duport.
“It was a highlight for Concordia Irvine that one of our own alums and professors were on the main stage.”
Jon Jordening, who directs the worship arts programming for CUI’s campus ministry, abbey west, led the mass event house band at the NYG in 2007 and 2010, and has coached and helped CUI students in the band since then. Six CUI students and alums served in the mass event house band nightly in the stadium this year, and another nine comprised a convention center worship team.
“I love that students get to experience music and production at a high level,” Jordening says. “It’s an absolutely professional sound and crew that comes with the venue, with the production environment of visuals and creativity behind that. Students are able to experience what it takes to minister in that environment. The interaction of the students with the professional band members is also invaluable.”
Jordening says some of the singers and musicians serve as volunteers in other areas throughout the day, and come to feel “a deep satisfaction to know they accomplished something like that. The relationships are meaningful.”
For Duport, this was her eighth NYG, and she led breakout sessions for adult leaders about ministering to youth in crisis. She also wrote four Bible studies as part of an effort by the national office to equip participants beyond the five-day event.
“The National Youth Gathering is an on-going ministry,” she says. “Yes, the numbers are impressive, but more than that, it's the identity that you’re not alone. It’s being surrounded by so many people who believe the same thing. As you’re saying the Lord’s prayer or apostles’ creed, you have a lot of teens around you who believe just like you do.”
The next NYG will be held in Houston in 2022.