Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I often find myself pondering what the Church will look like in 20, 30, or even 50 years from now. What traditions or customs that are common to us now will seem outdated or odd to them, but more importantly, will the Church still strive to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, be the voice for the voiceless, and in general be the hands and feet of God?
The only way that we can insure these pillars of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is by investing in the youth. The synods of Iowa are lucky enough to have an event to help develop these young leaders, Wholly Iowa Youth Leadership Discipling Event.
WIYLDE is a ministry and leadership workshop for high school youth of ELCA congregations in Iowa and is supported by all three ELCA Iowa synods.
It is designed for youth, grades 9-12. It is a youth ministry leadership workshop with opportunities for young people to grow in their own faith and take tools back to their home congregations to provide leadership in the youth ministry program. Each participant will learn:
• How to help plan and lead worship
• How to lead a Bible study
• Where to find youth ministry materials
• How to help organize youth events
I have attended WIYLDE the last two summers and will be a WIYLDE 3 this year. Since I first attended WIYLDE I have had some amazing experiences that I thank WIYLDE for:
- I have been a part of a group that went to Tanzania to rebuild a church
- gone to Haiti to work at an orphanage
- organized and lead a run across Iowa to raise funds and awareness for Malaria.
When I began to work on the malaria project, Running from Malaria, I began to realize the usefulness of all the information that I had gained at WIYLDE.
Whether I was planning the bible study, making phone calls to host churches, or speaking to individuals about malaria, I was using that knowledge from WIYLDE.
Running from Malaria ended up being incredibly successful by my own definition. We raised approximately $17,000 to combat malaria, but more importantly, we spoke to congregations in 21 towns, got interviewed by newspapers and radio stations in many towns, appeared on KCRG and KWWL, and made the ELCA’s nationwide magazine, The Lutheran.
The knowledge that I have gained at WIYLDE will also be helpful as I strive to fulfill my calling of ministry as a youth director and eventually as a pastor.
I have also been empowered by WIYLDE. Since first going to WIYLDE, I have represented my church at two synod assemblies as a voting member.
The most recent assembly I was even the assisting minister for the closing worship. I have also served on my congregation’s worship and music committee.
WIYLDE is a community. From the very first day, this becomes incredibly apparent. All staff and WIYLDE 2-4’s students welcome the WIYLDE 1’s in a way that can only be found at WIYLDE.
Year after year, youth come and are amazed at the judgement free, unwavering, and Christ-centered friendships that are made. These feelings of community go so deep that one group made a promise to each other their first year that they would all be there every single year.
So we, the present and past attendees and staff, challenge you, the ELCA churches of Iowa, send us your best youth, and we will make them not only the future leaders of the Church but the leaders right now!
Scott Van Daalen
Visit WYLDE for more information
** Scott Van Daalen ran across Iowa with two friends to raise money for the ELCA and United Methodist Malaria Campaign.