The History of the Youth Gathering

StadiumThe ELCA Youth Gathering has a long history, and an even longer lineage, going back to 1902.  Do you think that the Youth Gathering will be coming to Minneapolis in 2021 for the first time?  Think again.  This will be the 14th time that this event will be held in the City of Lakes.

Thanks to John Hulden, who sent us this information.  Thanks to David Halaas for requesting the information from the ELCA Archivist.  And thanks to Joel Thoreson, the ELCA’s Archivist for Management, Reference, and Technology for keeping track of this great information!

Here’s the history of the Gathering in the ELCA and its predecessor church bodies, including the themes (when available) and any special, notable facts:

ELCA Youth Gatherings (1988-Present)

  • 1988 – San Antonio, Texas – “Rejoice in the Lord Always”
  • 1991 – Dallas, Texas – “Called to Freedom”
  • 1994 – Atlanta, Ga. – “2 Be Alive”
  • 1997 – New Orleans, La. – “River of Hope”
  • 2000 – St. Louis, Mo. – “Dancing at the Crossroads”
  • 2003 – Atlanta, Ga. – “Ubuntu” (Do Life)
  • 2006 – San Antonio, Texas – “Cruzando” (Crossing)
  • 2009 – New Orleans, La. – “Jesus, Justice, Jazz”
  • 2012 – New Orleans, La. – “Citizens with the Saints”
  • 2015 – Detroit, Mich. – “Rise Up Together”
  • 2018 – Houston, Texas – “This Changes Everything”
  • 2021 – Minneapolis, Minnesota – Theme to be announced

The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987)

 

  • 1960 – Milwaukee, Wis. (constituting convention of the ALC Luther League)
  • 1961 – Miami Beach, Fla. – “Christ Is Living” – Speaker: Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 1964 – Detroit, Mich. – “Jesus Is Lord”
  • 1967 – Seattle, Wash. / Dallas, Texas (split sites) – “We Are a Peculiar People”
  • 1970 – New York, N.Y. – “And We Say We Care”
  • 1973 – Houston, Texas – “With Eyes Wide Open” – 1st All-Lutheran Youth Gathering (with LCA & LCMS) – music: Johnny Cash, speaker: Fulton J. Sheen
  • 1976 – New Orleans, La. – “For All the Saints” – 2nd All-Lutheran Youth Gathering
  • 1979 – Kansas City, Mo. – “Called to be Servants” – ALC only
  • 1982 – San Antonio, Texas – “In Christ, a New Creation”
  • 1985 – Denver, Colo. – “Proclaim Him Lord of All” – speaker: Jimmy Carter
ALC Youth Gathering

The 1961 ALC Youth Gathering, with speaker: the Rev. Dr., Martin Luther King Jr.

American Lutheran Church (1930-1960)

 

  • 1930 – Lakeside, Ohio (constituting convention of the Luther League)
  • 1931 – Long Lake, Ill. – “The Luther League at Work”
  • 1933 – Madison, Wis. – “Builders with Christ. For Christ”
  • 1935 – Austin, Texas – “Christ Calls”
  • 1937 – St. Paul, Minn. – “Christ Our Life”
  • 1939 – College Park, Md. – “Under the Banners of the Church”
  • 1941 – Greeley, Colo. – “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes Unto the Hills”
  • 1943 – Dubuque, Iowa – “Tell the Story”
  • 1946 – Ames, Iowa – “Now Is the Time”
  • 1949 – Pullman, Wash. – “Thy Kingdom Come”
  • 1951 – East Lansing, Mich. – “Thine Is the Power”
  • 1953 – West Lafayette, Ind. – “Live Christ”
  • 1955 – College Station, Texas – “God’s Love – My Life”
  • 1958 – Ithaca, N.Y. – “United in the Word”


Evangelical Lutheran Church (1917-1960)
(Was known as the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America to 1946)

  • 1919 – Red Wing, Minn.
  • 1922 – LaCrosse, Wis.
  • 1925 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1927 – Seattle, Wash.
  • 1929 – Duluth, Minn.
  • 1931 – Chicago, Ill.
  • 1933 – Fargo, N.D.
  • 1935 – Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • 1937 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1939 – Los Angeles, Calif.
  • 1941 – Billings, Mont.
  • 1947 – Milwaukee, Wis.
  • 1949 – Saskatoon, Sask.
  • 1951 – Seattle, Wash.
  • 1953 – Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn.
  • 1955 – San Francisco, Calif.
  • 1957 – Missoula, Mont.


Norwegian Synod (1850-1917)

  • Young People’s Association organized 1903


United Norwegian Lutheran Church (1890-1917)

  • Young People’s League organized 1908


Hauge Synod (1846-1917)

  • Young People’s Federation organized 1911


United (Danish) Evangelical Lutheran Church (1896-1960)

  • 1932 – Spencer, Iowa
  • 1935 – Medicine Lake, near Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1938 – Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • 1941 – Blair, Neb.
  • 1944 – Blair, Neb.
  • 1947 – Blair, Neb.
  • 1949 – Albert Lea, Minn.
  • 1951 – Blair, Neb.
  • 1953 – Blair, Neb.
  • 1955 – Blair, Neb.
  • 1957 – Fresno, Calif.
  • 1959 – Blair, Neb.

 

ALC Youth Gatherin 2

The 1955 Gathering at Texas A&M.  Think lines are a new thing?  Not so much.

Lutheran Free Church (1897-1963)

Known as the Young People’s Federation from 1920-1937 and the Luther League Federation from 1937-1963

  • 1920 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1921 – unknown
  • 1922 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1923 – Fargo, N.D.
  • 1924 – unknown
  • 1925 – Fargo, N.D.
  • 1926 – Rochester, Minn.
  • 1927 – Thief River Falls, Minn.
  • 1928 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1929 – LaCrosse, Wis.
  • 1930 – Northwood, N.D.
  • 1931 – Willmar, Minn.
  • 1932 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1933 – Fargo, N.D.
  • 1934 – Marinette, Wis.
  • 1935 – Rochester, Minn.
  • 1936 – Minot, N.D.
  • 1937 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1938 – Willmar, Minn.
  • 1939 – Northwood, N.D.
  • 1940 – Duluth, Minn.
  • 1941 – Minneapolis, Minn.
  • 1942 – New London, Minn.
  • 1943 – Fergus Falls, Minn.
  • 1944 – Morris, Minn.
  • 1947 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1948 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1949 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1950 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1951 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1952 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1953 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1954 – Medicine Lake (Near Minneapolis)
  • 1956 – Parkland, Wash. – “Witness to God’s Power”
  • 1958 – Green Lake, Wis. – “Let God’s Word Transform”
  • 1960 – Northfield, Minn. – “In This Sign Conquer”
  • 1962 – Green Lake, Wis. – “Christ’s Kingdom Shall Triumph”


Lutheran Church in America (1962-1987)
(known as the LCA Luther League from 1962-1968, then restructured into the Commission on Youth Ministry)

  • 1962 – San Francisco, Calif. (constituting convention of the LCA Luther League)
  • 1963 – Selinsgrove, Pa. – “The Fellowship of the Concerned”
  • 1964 – Waterloo, Ont. – “’Be My Spirit,’ Says the Lord”
  • 1965 – Miami Beach, Fla. – “Follow Me”
  • 1966 – Milwaukee, Wis. – “He Gives Peace”
  • 1969 – Detroit, Mich. – Youthexpo
  • 1973 – Houston, Texas – With Eyes Wide Open – 1st All-Lutheran Youth Gathering
  • 1976 – New Orleans, La. – For All the Saints – 2nd All-Lutheran Youth Gathering
  • 1981 – West Lafayette, Ind. – Joy for You and Me
  • 1985 – West Lafayette, Ind. – Power in the Cross

Augustana Synod (1860-1962)

  • 1921 – Rock Island, Ill.
  • 1926 – Rock Island, Ill.
  • 1929 – Lindsborg, Kan.
  • 1931 – St. Peter, Minn.
  • 1933 – East Orange, N.J.
  • 1935 – Rock Island, Ill. – “Victory Through Christ”
  • 1937 – Minneapolis, Minn. – “Christ Our Life”
  • 1939 – Omaha, Neb. – “The Open Door”
  • 1941 – Rockford, Ill. – “Built on a Rock”
  • 1943 – Minneapolis, Minn. – “All Out for Christ”
  • 1945 – Jamestown, N.Y. – “Jesus Calls Us”
  • 1947 – Los Angeles, Calif. – “Christ Is Able”
  • 1949 – Duluth, Minn. – “Christ Above All”
  • 1951 – Colorado Springs, Colo. – “Lift Up Your Eyes”
  • 1953 – Boston, Mass. – “Christ Makes Men Free”
  • 1955 – Calgary, Alb. – “Christ, the Lord of Life”
  • 1957 – Chicago, Ill. – “Know, Live, Share Christ”
  • 1959 – San Antonio, Texas – “Remember Jesus Christ”

 

ALC Youth Gathering 3

Most the participants came by train to Texas in 1955

United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962) and predecessors General Synod (1820-1918), General Council (1867-1918) and United Synod in the South (1863-1918)

  • 1895 – Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • 1896 – Chicago, Ill.
  • 1898 – New York, N.Y.
  • 1900 – Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1902 – St. Paul, Minn.
  • 1904 – Buffalo, N.Y.
  • 1906 – Canton, Ohio
  • 1908 – Chicago, Ill.
  • 1910 – Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • 1912 – Albany, N.Y.
  • 1914 – Baltimore, Md.
  • 1916 – Toledo, Ohio
  • 1918 – Buffalo, N.Y.
  • 1920 – Fort Wayne, Ind.
  • 1922 – York, Pa.
  • 1925 – Milwaukee, Wis.
  • 1927 – Salisbury, N.C.
  • 1929 – Omaha, Neb.
  • 1931 – Reading, Pa.
  • 1935 – Charleston, S.C.
  • 1937 – Springfield, Ohio
  • 1939 – Long Beach, Calif.
  • 1941 – Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.
  • 1946 – Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • 1949 – Roanoke, Va.
  • 1951 – Iowa City, Iowa – “Christians Answer Boldly”
  • 1953 – Oxford, Ohio – “Armed With His Word”
  • 1955 – Ann Arbor, Mich. – “Christ Is Lord”
  • 1957 – Lawrence, Kan. – “Here I Stand”
  • 1959 – Ithaca, N.Y. – “In This Sign Conquer”
  • 1961 – Urbana, Ill. – “Lord I Believe”

American Evangelical Lutheran Church (1894-1962)
(was known as the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church to 1953)

  • 1947 – Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • 1948 – Des Moines, Iowa
  • 1949 – Greenville, Mich.
  • 1950 – Des Moines, Iowa
  • 1951 – Chicago, Ill.
  • 1952 – Des Moines, Iowa
  • 1953 – Tyler, Minn.
  • 1954 – Des Moines, Iowa
  • 1955 – Tyler, Minn.
  • 1956 – Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Fredsville, Iowa
  • 1957 – Newell, Iowa
  • 1958 – Detroit, Mich.
  • 1959 – Nysted, Neb.
  • 1960 – Withee, Wis.
  • 1961 – Indianola, Iowa


Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church
Known as the Suomi Synod from 1890-1962

  • 1947 – Camp Luther, Ashtabula, Ohio
  • 1949 – Camp Shaw, Chatham, Mich.
  • 1951 – Camp Sigel, Gilbert, Minn.
  • 1953 – Camp Luther, Ashtabula, Ohio
  • 1955 – Suomi College, Hancock, Mich.
  • 1957 – St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.
  • 1959 – Camp Luther, N. Kingsville, Ohio
  • 1961 – Suomi College, Hancock, Mich.

Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (1976-1982)

  • 1982 – some attended the ALC convention in San Antonio, Texas

 

 

  1. Wow!! Thankful for archivists
    !!

    Reply

  2. Wow! I used to think I had attended a lot of the gatherings. Now I know better… (I do like the photo of Dr Martin Luther King Jr at the 1961 gathering… looks a bit more intimate than what they are like now).

    Reply

  3. This is an amazing archive and history lesson of our church. Thank you to all who had input into this!

    Reply

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