Immediately after the close of the 2015 Northeastern Iowa Synod Assembly, some of the youth voting members remained on the Wartburg College Campus and joined other youth for the annual leadership Camp known has WIYLDE (Wholly Iowa Youth Leadership Discipling Event).
This annual camp is designed to teach and grow high school youth into leaders for the church, not just in the future but for today.
When the camp began, the plan was for it to be a onetime experience for participants but the students kept coming back. More training was added each year until this year, the program was totally revamped to offer three different tracks students could sign up for. Each track is designed to give in-depth knowledge and training in a particular kind of training.
Students take one track at the event and can sign up for a different track if they choose to return next year.
The three tracks are:
Worship, Leadership and Planning
Pastor Scott Johnson and his wife Kristin Johnson, AIM and Youth and Family Director from St. Petri in Story City, led this track. Students learned the basics of Lutheran worship and how to plan and lead a worship service. They also took field trips to other churches to see how other churches worship.
This track, led by Pastor Jenna Couch from Zion, Jubilee and former WIYLDE attendee, *Scott Van Dalen, taught skills on how to be a leader in youth groups, and how to help others talk about Christ.
Justice and Service
This was led by Alison Northrop, Youth and Family Director at Zion St. John in Sheffield and Nichole Lyons, Wartburg student and former intern at Northeastern Iowa Synod. This group learned about what resources were available from the ELCA to alleviate Hunger and how they can lead others to make a difference in the world.
Pastor Mark Anderson led bible study on “A Prostitute, a Queen and a Virgin” and how these three different women in scripture exemplified leadership.
The students were also joined by Luther College Pastor, Mike Blair, and Wartburg Pastor, Brian Beckstrom
Deb Ford who serves as Youth Ministry Coordinator for the Synod was there as the Director who kept everyone safe, well fed and centered on Jesus.
All of these leaders volunteered their time to make this a memorable event for all involved.
“It was amazing,” exclaimed Lauren Dohlman, member of Zion St. John in Sheffield. “I had begun to lose a little of my faith, but I totally regained it during my time here.”
Rachel Lynch brought her Flat Jesus from last year’s Synod Assembly to this year’s assembly decided to bring him to WIYLDE as well and posted photos of FlatJesus participating in WIYLDE events to social media.
Mija Cotton, Mikaela Kregerall (both from St. John in Charles City) and Grace VanPatten of St. John in Cedar Falls all chimed in to tell me how this experience was an awesome way to make friends and learn about Jesus in a fun way.
If you have someone in your congregation who attended WIYLDE, you have a trained leader in your midst.
Use them. These are eager young people who are skilled and ready to do more than serve coffee at Lenten meals. They can lead worship, they can teach bible studies, they can teach VBS classes, and they can lead small groups. These are not our future leaders. They are leaders for us today.
*See what Scot VanDahlen had to say about WIYLDE last year: