Great Lakes Gathering - 2018 - By: Paul Schmidt
It was the end of an era. What do I mean? For the last thirty plus years, The Michigan Gathering was a four day, three night event that was held after Christmas from December 27th through the 30th. This past Gathering was the last in that format. The year before the name was changed from Michigan Gathering to Great Lakes Gathering to further incorporate the churches that have been regulars that have resided outside of Michigan.
This Gathering was not about change or closure. It was about legacy. As we listened to the keynote speaker and one of our newest young pastors, Pastor Branden Hunt, speak to and laugh with the participants, knowing just 10 short years prior, he was one of them in those chairs. As we listened to the eclectic and extremely talented musician Aisea Taimani, I couldn’t help but glance over at my son Eddie, as he was engrossed learning this new song and style. This was his first Gathering and he was as entranced as I was 30 years prior at my first Gathering.
The theme this year was Be. An enigmatic theme for sure at first glance, but each day played on that: Be Less, Be Hungry, Be persecuted….Be You. Breaking yourself down to figure out who you are and what you're meant to do. A fitting last theme if I’ve ever heard one for this event.
I’ve enjoyed watching the Gathering evolve as it has and recognizing that this event was always meant to be spirit led and Christ centered no matter what place and what day. That really showed me what this event really means and how it will be develop in the years to come in its new incarnation.
It has been an honor to be a part of this event, year after year, from youth participant to co-convener to video sub contractor to Lutheran Youth Organization Leader to committee member to adult participant. It’s been awesome to see the evolution of both event participation from outside our state and the youth led leadership developing a community where different faces and voices are welcome. This is what the Gathering stands for, this is what the Gathering is and this is what the Gathering will always….Be.