LCMS Youth Ministry will announce no earlier than Oct. 7 if New Orleans is still the site for the 2007 LCMS National Youth Gathering, says Rev. Terry Dittmer.
Dittmer is director of LCMS District and Congregational Services (DCS) — Youth Ministry, which sponsors the national Gatherings.
He addressed the question of the next Gathering’s site the week after Hurricane Katrina’s Aug. 29 assault on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans — the city that the executive team for the 2004 Gathering in Orlando picked to host the Gathering set for July 28-Aug. 1, 2007.
“The question is even more crucial in light of Hurricane Rita’s assault on the Gulf Coast,” Dittmer said Sept. 23, the day before that storm was projected for landfall at Texas and Louisiana.
He said that New Orleans had not been ruled out as the 2007 host city, although its “physical ability … to support the Gathering could be an issue.”
“As the Youth Ministry staff considers our strategy for responding to current challenges to plans already in place,” he said, “we are taking into consideration the availability and viability of convention facilities; the legal liability; the integrity of contracts; the integrity of dates; safety and security; support for and from the local district; and the financial viability and implications for good stewardship.”
“We will know where we are going by Oct. 7,” Dittmer said, “but we can’t make any announcement or projection before then because our Board for District and Congregational Services needs to pass off on it, and that will probably be sometime during the first week of October.”
Dittmer said that program directors for the Gathering will first know the decision when they meet Oct. 4-5 in St. Louis, as they “look at what plans remain in place, what plans need to change, and what new plans may need to be discovered.
“Once past that meeting, we can make an announcement,” Dittmer said.
“In the meantime,” he added, “we have all kinds of activity in the office to identify potential cities and what they have to offer.”
“We know there is a lot of speculation out in the church about what we will do in 2007,” Dittmer wrote in the Sept. 12 e-mail Youth Ministry Bulletin. “We are working on determining our plan of action, but we don’t have a definitive answer and we won’t for several weeks. When we do, we will let the church know what the plan is. Keep us in your prayer as we seek God’s direction for the Gathering.”
Also in that bulletin, he said that “with New Orleans having been the home to two past LCMS Youth Gatherings as well as being selected for 2007, we have lots of friends who called New Orleans home, and the devastation of the city has become a very personal concern for the youth ministry staff and Gathering planners.”
Dittmer said the site decision would appear on the Web site for the 2007 Gathering and on the Synod Web site. Also, the November Reporter will announce the decision in a story that also will go to subscribers to the Synod’s LCMSNews e-News service.
Posted Sept. 23, 2005