Oct. 12 is now the earliest that the LCMS Youth Ministry staff plans to announce whether New Orleans is still the site for the 2007 National LCMS Youth Gathering.
Rev. Terry Dittmer, director for LCMS District and Congregational Services — Youth Ministry, said that although Oct. 7 was previously mentioned as “an anticipated decision date,” the youth-ministry office “has agreed to extend the courtesy of this delay in response to a request by the Louisiana lieutenant governor, Mitch Landrieu, that Louisiana state officials be allowed opportunity to further demonstrate the viability of the City of New Orleans in an effort to remain the host” for the event, which is set for July 28-Aug. 1, 2007.
LCMS Youth Ministry announced at the 2004 Gathering in Orlando that New Orleans had been selected to host the 2007 Gathering.
Then last month, Youth Ministry announced that, after Hurricane Katrina’s assault on New Orleans, Gathering planners would reconsider the question of where to hold the 2007 Gathering, and announce a decision by no earlier than Oct. 7.
“With less than 22 months until the event,” an Oct. 7 news release from LCMS Youth Ministry states, “the … office is working under the advisement of its Board for District and Congregational Services and with support from the Gathering executive council to determine the location for 2007. Gathering program directors convened in St. Louis Oct. 3-5 to assist in the decision-making process.”
“The Synod needs to be able to reasonably assure parents and congregations that the Gathering city is safe for youth,” Dittmer said. “We are taking into consideration the availability and viability of convention facilities; legal liability; the integrity of contracts; the integrity of established dates; safety and security; support for and from the local district; the financial viability and implications for good stewardship; and the ability for any city considered to fully accommodate the event in keeping with our stated purpose.”
“Answers to these concerns are expected to be addressed by New Orleans and Louisiana officials early next week,” according to the Oct. 7 release.
“In addition to the logistical stressors, leaving New Orleans would be an emotionally challenging decision,” Dittmer said.
Noting that 2007 would mark the third time that New Orleans is the site for a National Youth Gathering, Dittmer said, “The Gathering has a great affinity for the city — its facilities, its ambience, and most certainly its people. Should we face the reality of having to leave the city, it would not be a cavalier choice.”
The news release states that the Youth Ministry office “began a search for space and dates for the Gathering in six cities” after the Aug. 29 hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, which led to levee breaches the next day that flooded a reported 80 percent of New Orleans.
“Floodwaters did not impact areas of the city used by conventions,” Dittmer explained, “including the Central Business District and the historic French Quarter.”
“Wherever we find a home for 2007,” he said, “the church can be assured that the Gathering will do what for 30 years it has done by the grace of God: nurture and affirm young people in the faith and provide opportunities for youth and adults to boldly come together in the name of Jesus to witness their salvation in Him.”
Registration for the 2007 Gathering opens in fall 2006. For more information, visit the Gathering Web site. “CHOSEN” is the Gathering’s theme.
Posted Oct. 7, 2005