It is a time of transition for LCMS Youth Ministry, with the Rev. Mark Kiessling now serving as its interim director and the Rev. Dr. Terry Dittmer, who had been in the director post since 2001, becoming its senior director — youth ministry specialist, a new position.
Dittmer has announced that he plans to retire after the 2016 LCMS Youth Gathering, which is set for July 16-20 in that year.
Kiessling — associate director of LCMS Youth Ministry and LCMS Youth Gathering program director since 2002 — assumed his additional duties July 1.
“Youth ministry has been faithfully served by Dr. Dittmer for many years,” said the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission, which includes LCMS Youth Ministry. “We are blessed to have this time of transition as Terry moves towards retirement after the 2016 Youth Gathering. This time allows us to review the work of youth ministry and assure that it continues to be a tremendous asset in the life of the Synod.”
Kiessling will look after the day-to-day administration of LCMS Youth Ministry while continuing to serve as 2016 Youth Gathering program director and director of the 2015 National Lutheran Youth Workers Conference.
“The vibrancy of LCMS Youth Ministry is what it is today because of the tremendous leaders that have laid a strong foundation,” said Kiessling. “I am humbled to have served alongside many of these leaders over the past 12 years here on staff and look forward to continuing the vision of leading, serving, resourcing and networking youth and adults as a community of God’s people where Jesus Christ is the
Dittmer said that, in his new role, he will “take on several unique projects including an historical record of [LCMS] youth ministry over the past 50 years, a 35-year comparison study of LCMS teen attitudes and opinions as reported in the Lutheran Youth Fellowship Youth Polls at every LCMS Youth Gathering since 1980, and develop expectations for building effective youth-ministry efforts into the future.”
He added that he will continue to serve on the Gathering’s executive team, facilitate partnerships with city convention bureaus and oversee LCMS Youth Ministry’s national presence at the 2016 Gathering.
“I’m excited about this new opportunity,” Dittmer said, “particularly as it looks at the past from the formation of the Board for Youth Ministry in 1970 and into the future, looking towards the new generation of adolescents who are attending our confirmation classes this year, a generation many are calling ‘the Pluralists.’”
To read an article by Dittmer that describes the Pluralists, click here.
“Change and transition are inevitable,” Dittmer continued. “There are great opportunities ahead of us as we look to revitalize LCMS congregations. Youth Ministry is a key element in that effort and Mark has the skill set and faith to serve well as the interim director. He is a solid theologian with a pastoral heart, strong business sense and excellent leadership abilities in effectively organizing and empowering those around him.”
Dittmer and Kiessling are both members of the Association of Youth Ministry Educators and the Religious Conference Management Association.
The process for identifying a permanent director of LCMS Youth Ministry will begin in January.
Posted Oct. 3, 2014