Sixteen Senior High Youth Group members and three advisors flew to Houston to attend the 2018 ELCA National Youth Gathering from Wednesday, June 27, until Sunday, July 1. There were more than 37,000 other youth and adults there as well! It was an incredible experience for our YG members! See their pictures and hear some of their stories!

Emilie Goss
2018 High School Graduate
Daughter of Lori and the late Tim Goss
The gathering in Houston was amazing. On our service day, we worked at the Willow Waterhole, which helps prevent flooding. Throughout the trip we learned about faith, hope, and God’s grace. Each night we had many inspiring speakers; these speakers truly showed God’s work in action through their amazing stories. We also spent some time in the convention center where we did interactive learning activities. Also, we had so much fun touring the city, going to art museums and parks, shopping, and more. I definitely could speak for the majority, if not all who went on the trip, that we learned so much and made so many lifelong memories.

Erin McHugh
11th Grade
Daughter of John and Maureen McHugh
On this year’s youth gathering in Houston, I experienced the overwhelming power of God’s love through every aspect of the convention. During the nightly large group sessions with all 37,000 attendees, powerful speakers advocated for the themes of grace, faith, and hope changing everything. I felt as though the idea of loving one another carried through the week and was used frequently as a means of bringing everyone closer together. Even though we were many miles from home, I still felt like I was in a loving and accepting atmosphere. I will always remember the experiences that this gathering provided not only to me but also to the amazing 15 other youth from Trinity.

Samantha “Sam” Smeal
2018 High School Graduate
Daughter of Kathy Smeal
It was an incredible experience to be immersed in a new city packed with people (37,000 at the convention alone!), culture, and the most intense Southern heat you’d ever feel. But what really captures my heart in gatherings like these are the connections formed with perfect strangers, listening to their stories of triumphs and struggles alike. Each night at large group, speakers would come on stage to share such stories, and all of them were far more moving than what anyone had expected. And, most powerful of all, each message was rooted in faith, concluding with some way that God had worked and spread His grace and perfect love in the speakers’ lives. Even small connections—talking to other youth from across the country on the Metro, chatting with shop owners in downtown Houston, and meeting new friends at stations during our interactive learning day—can be just as impactful, and these bonds are what I’ll remember most about our time in Houston.