2019 Youth Gathering Theme: ‘Real. Present. God.’

Youth and adults from across the Synod will come together July 11-15, 2019, in Minneapolis for the next LCMS Youth Gathering under the theme “Real. Present. God.” The theme is rooted in Psalm 46.

“Through the gift of faith, we know our God to be real and present with us in daily troubles, fears and joys,” said the Rev. Mark Kiessling, director of LCMS Youth Ministry.

Echoing that sentiment is the Rev. Dr. Joel Lehenbauer, executive director of the LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations and the Gathering’s theological adviser: “Psalm 46 and all the divinely inspired God-songs of Scripture will surely continue to strengthen and encourage countless hearts and lives by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, including the hearts and lives of those attending the 2019 Gathering.”

Adds Lehenbauer: “The songs of God recorded in the Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture have literally changed and shaped the course of human history — and my life and your life — forever.”

A group of Gathering planners met with students from Concordia University, St. Paul (CSP), in January to begin the thematic planning process. They discussed youth and young-adult research and trends, reflected on Scripture and prayerfully considered the message of the event.

“Late in the day, there was a point when everyone else stepped back from all the ideas posted on the wall and our group of students gathered by [the ideas on the wall], looking them over and chatting about what resonated and what didn’t,” recalled DCE Shelly Schwalm, university ministry associate with CSP. “Some of the richest insights came from listening in to that conversation.”

Kiessling said the theme-selection process “was filled with great discussions on world and daily events which can bring questions, fears and doubts. We debate ‘fake’ news [and] the authenticity of social-media posts, and observe a lack of trust in institutions and our fellow students, citizens and neighbors.

“People need and hunger for truth, authenticity and grace,” he said. “It was great to hear from young people who, in the midst of these challenges and blessings of daily life, boldly live in their faith in Christ and want to share the Good News of His truth.”

The experience, added Schwalm, “was a reminder of the importance of encouraging our young people to contribute and giving them a chance to speak while we step back and really hear them.

“They have much to contribute and teach us about reaching their generation and those following.”

The 2019 Gathering logo by James Saleska, a graphic designer in Frankenmuth, Mich., was chosen from among several submissions.

Saleska says the logo “is a design treatment of the theme, ‘Real. Present. God.’ The stenciled treatment reflects the ideas of strength and fortitude to remind us that ‘God is our refuge and strength’ “ and “the bright color palette reinforces the youthful nature of the event and mimics a heat map where the hottest part is centered around the ‘o’ in God, reinforcing the Gathering’s Christ-centered focus.”

Kiessling said he looks forward to the Youth Gathering and “our time together in God’s Word, especially in the Psalms and Psalm 46. The Psalm writers ask big questions about life — our identity, living in community and the purpose of our individual and collective lives. To those questions, God answers us again and again that He is with us and He brings us stillness in His mercy and love.

“I can’t wait for 2019 in Minneapolis and our time to celebrate God’s salvation and presence made real to us in Jesus Christ.”

The Youth Gathering registration process begins in September 2018. For more information about the Gathering — including access to the 2019 logo and media kit — visit lcmsgathering.com.