Lutherans in the Twin Cities

At Nativity, St. Anthony Village, youth plug in where their gifts fit

In this north suburban parish, with no structured youth group, the kids are busy doing ministry

What’s the size of this congregation’s youth group?” the editor of Metro Lutheran asked Pastor Carole Lundell. She works with youth ministry at Nativity Lutheran Church in St. Anthony Village, Minn-esota. Her answer came without hesitation. “We don’t really have a youth group. But we have lots of youth in ministry.”

That’s a far cry from the old Luther League or Walther League days, or even the more recent “Lutheran Youth Organization” ministry model.

So, what exactly do the kids at Nativity do in the course of a week or a month?

* They participate in worship leadership, including reading Scripture.

* They help staff the usher corps for worship.

* Some of them teach younger students.

* They help stage dramas for the congregation.

* One handles sound technology.

* Another keeps the bulletin boards current.

And then there are the mission trips. Each year Pastor Lundell consults with staff and youth to decide when and where to go off-site for service. Next July the youth of Nativity will head for a town with a Lutheran-sounding name. Martin, South Dakota, actually has a Wisconsin Synod congregation (Nativity is ELCA), but that’s not why the youth are going there.

Martin is a “hard-luck” town, positioned between two Lakota Indian reservations. Poverty is high, and so are racial tensions. The Nativity kids will help repair and paint buildings, and help run a Vacation Bible School.
Minneapolis-based Youth Works is managing the project, which will draw youth from four congregations together for shared ministry.

“The kids are pretty much in charge of the planning,” Lundell says. They buy the groceries, round up the supplies, plan the devotions, assign duties and prepare the meals. We adults who go along serve as cheerleaders.”

Nativity’s communication coordinator, Becky Thorvig says, “When these kids come back from a mission trip, they’re incredibly changed.”

The South Dakota mission trip will require a lot of money. Nativi-ty’s youth have been working at raising it since last fall. Says Thorvig, “They’ve had a silent auction, a plant sale that raised around $2,500, and there are pancake breakfasts every other month.”

Each youth going to South Dakota will need to contribute $100 for their own deposit. The rest will be secured through fund-raising.

One fairly high-profile effort is planned during April. The Twin Cities-based Apollo Male Chorus will sing a benefit concert at Nativity. Proceeds will go to the youth program (see details below).

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The next Nativity Lutheran Youth fund-raiser:

Benefit concert by the Apollo Male Chorus, Sunday, April 8, 1:30 p.m., at the worship center, 3312 Silver Lake Road, St. Anthony Village. $10 donation (more if you’re feeling generous; it’s for a good cause).