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Welcome to the thirteenth edition of The Trip Report, a monthly briefing on youth and intergenerational events. This month, I will share about Faith Lutheran’s weekly online youth group gathering. 

Things have certainly been interesting since the last time I sat down to write The Trip Report. The last event I covered in this column was a nature walk, during which our youth stayed 6 feet apart from each other. I have not seen any of the youth in-person for a youth event since then.

Amidst a slew of other cancellations both locally and nationally, Faith Lutheran and St. John’s cancelled our joint trip to Rancho Santa Marta in June. While I think we made the right decision, and especially when I consider the risk of one of us bringing COVID-19 into the small community at Rancho Santa Marta, it was still a sad decision to make. Another thing our youth had been looking forward to, an important trip and milestone during their year, gone.

Also, the planned ELCA Western States Youth Gathering, to be held at California Lutheran University in June, was cancelled. I had looked forward to this trip because of the possibility for connections: our youth group would have travelled to the gathering with several other churches from our area, and would have met so many other Lutheran youth during the gathering. I know that we still have the national ELCA Gathering in the Twin Cities next summer to look forward to, but for the loss of another opportunity for our youth to find connection this year, I grieve.

Holding space for grief and lament during the COVID-19 pandemic has been essential, not just for me but for our youth. They are grieving the lack of social interaction in their daily life, the chance to hang out with their friends who they care about. They are grieving the normalcy of a daily schedule at school. They are grieving the loss of face-to-face communication, and struggling to understand how to communicate without non-verbal, non-written language to guide them. I know this because we have been meeting together, every week, for online youth group.

This time to gather as a group has been so valuable. We have the chance to check in with each other, and talk honestly about our struggles and our laments. We have the chance to voice prayer concerns, and then pray for those concerns and for one another. And, we have the chance to play some silly online games, which is a way for all of us to spend time together without any high-stakes decisions or questions being raised.

It warms my heart to think of some of the ways our youth are responding to each other, and to their communities, during this crisis. They are caring, kind, thoughtful, and steadfast. They have offered their gifts of time, and some of them have gone out of their way to be part of our phone call ministry. They are growing by the day in their emotional intelligence and in their faith. I am very proud of all of them.

Thank you for continuing to support our youth of all age.! Just as our youth have been doing, I invite you to consider the ways you find yourself grieving or lamenting during this time. And, make sure you share those things with folks in your life who care about you. Take care of each other. Peace be with you.

Have an adventure-worthy idea for an upcoming youth/intergenerational event? Interested in becoming involved with Faith Lutheran’s youth? Colter would love to hear from you!