Heidi Hagstrom has announced her intent to leave her position as the Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering following the 2015 event next summer. Heidi has been studying in the M.Div program at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque and intends to pursue rostered ministry as an ordained pastor within the ELCA. The ELCA has posted the Gathering Director’s position and will be accepting applications for this vital leadership position through the month of September.
The Gathering is one of the most powerful ministries of the church. It gathers somewhere in the vicinity of 39,000 young people, adult leaders, volunteers and staff together for a amazing faith formation experience. It presents and lives out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that quite simply cannot be duplicated anywhere else within the church. It is transformational for the faith lives of the participants, for the community that hosts the Gathering and for the ELCA. It is a masterpiece of deployed leadership. Everywhere you look within the Gathering, it speaks the name of Jesus.
I believe that the Gathering creates a culture of leadership that respects the gifts of both individuals and the community. It listens, learns and then acts. It is full of joy and laughter, from the stages of the initial planning, all the way through to the last closing worship. Clearly the Holy Spirit is alive and well through the ministry of the Gathering.
This culture has been carefully tended over years. And while there will be opportunity later on (it’s a long time until next July!) to thank Heidi, I’d be remiss if I didn’t name that much of the reason this culture exists is because of Heidi and the team with whom she works. As someone who has brought groups, and been in different levels of leadership within the Gathering, I’m grateful for this culture.
Now, the ELCA will be seeking a new Director for this vibrant ministry. The hope is to bring someone onboard soon, to join the leadership team and to walk through this last year of the planning cycle with them.
Might you be someone who would consider this call? Or perhaps you know someone who has the gifts for this ministry? Please give this thought and prayer. More information including a link to an online application can be found on the ELCA’s web site here.
Thanks be to God for the Gathering and its leadership. Thanks be to God for the person out there somewhere who will be called to this ministry.
Networked in Christ,
Life has been pretty much a whirlwind in the last few weeks. As has been noted on the Network’s Facebook page, Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna, Minnesota has extended a call for me to come and serve as a pastor. After a lot of conversations, thought and prayer, I have decided to accept this call. My final day at Lord of Life Lutheran Church will be July 14. I will begin at Trinity on August 4.
The decision to accept a new call, to move our family, to sell a home, buy a home and start something totally new was a big decision. But we believe that this is the right thing for our family, and that the Holy Spirit put this opportunity directly in my path. It’s hard to ignore the Holy Spirit sometimes.
So we’re excited…sad…nervous and full of anticipation, all at the same time.
One of the questions I’ve been asked quite a bit was “what does this mean for your work with the Network?” Good question.
At the beginning of the process, I had to spend time explaining to the call committee what the Network was, what my role within it is, and what we do together. I explained that while I’m sensing a call to something new, I don’t necessarily feel called out of my Network role yet.
Later in the call process, one of the committee members explained that “as we spoke with your references, and they explained the Network and its impact, we began to realize what an important role it plays in the life of the church. People told us that the Network is on the front end of change in the church. We want to be a part of that. We’ve always supported the broader church…so we think that it’s important for you to maintain this role. We’d like to write it into your call papers.”
I was floored. And I’m reminded of how incredibly blessed I am to be a part of congregations who understand what it is to be church together. And so the short answer to the question is: I will continue in my role. My work with the Network has been in a constant state of evolution; every year the nature of my role with the Network has changed, as my role has changed, my family grown, as technology has shifted and as the Network has grown. So I anticipate that this will continue. As my congregation and role changes, the way the work happens will shift, we’ll rely more on our incredible volunteers, and the Network will continue to evolve. And that is a good thing.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! And please pray for me and my family in the transition.
Networked in Christ,