Dear Trinity Family,


Lent is upon us! 

Lent begins February 14th with Ash Wednesday services with the imposition of ashes and gathering around the table to celebrate Holy Communion.


 Our theme for lent this year is based on a favorite traditional hymn: I Love To Tell The Story.   Join us for worship on Sunday as we continue walking through the Greatest Story: Jesus as we walk with Jesus through his ministry and journey toward the cross and beyond.  On Wednesdays we will get to know more about the book that holds this story - the Bible.  We will journey together getting to know the story that contains our story and spend.  Join us on Wednesday evenings for a meal sponsored by the hosting church before worship.  Please see Lenten schedule published in this newsletter. 

Heading to Houston Update!

We have 13 youth and adults heading to Houston in June.  (8 of the youth are from Trinity in Truman along with 3 adults - Grant Hartman, Teresa Zaharia, and myself.). This year’s theme is This Changes Everything!  In the coming weeks you will be hearing more about this trip but I can tell you attending the Youth Gatherings are life changing events.  Each day the youth will attend worship with 30,000 other youth and their sponsors… can you imagine seeing 30,000 youth gathered in one place worshipping God.  It is an amazing sight.  They will also take part in learning activities, have opportunity to get to know and connect with other youth from SWMN Synod and spend one day being sent to serve in the Houston community with 10,000 of their newest friends. 


I’ve included an article from the Houston Chronicle printed on December 25, 2017 about the ELCA Youth Gathering….


Youth project will descend on Houston to provide help, books and other good works!


Youth Gathering will bring books, service to Houston area

Whether they're working at food banks, urban farms or in distressed communities, thousands of young adult volunteers will engulf the Bayou City next year in a tangerine tide.


That's when the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America dispatches its every-three-years Youth Gathering to Houston for one of the nation's largest public service efforts.


As other American cities have learned: You will know them by their orange shirts and good works.


Next summer, an estimated 30,000 young adults from across the country will convene in Houston to demonstrate their faith through hundreds of service opportunities. About 25 percent of projects will happen in Acres Homes, Gulfton, Near Northside, Second Ward and Third Ward - the five Complete Communities targeted for uplift by Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Details about the Gathering were presented to the Houston City Council in August by the conference's Houston-based project manager and members of the Emancipation Economic Development Council's Faith in Action work group, one of many community partner organizations.


"We plan to do minor home repairs, community gardens, graffiti abatement, painting the homes, murals, landscaping, window washing, power washing, mulching, trimming, lawn cutting and a myriad of other services," said Chris Spellmon, the Emancipation work group co-chairman. "We are anticipating that when the teams leave Houston, they will not only have made a contribution to this city, but also have acquired some knowledge about the rich history of this great city, its diverse neighborhoods and its great people."


Literacy campaign

The Youth Gathering also has started a literacy campaign that aims to collect and distribute 100,000 books to local children.

"We're just looking for meaningful service opportunities for our students," Molly Beck Dean, the Youth Gathering's service director, said in a telephone interview. "We want our students to be able to learn about the place they're serving, why they are serving, why it's important and who they are impacting."


 The Gathering landed in San Antonio in 2006. Because of Hurricane Katrina's wrath, Lutheran leaders chose New Orleans for back-to-back conventions in 2009 and 2012. The conference served in Detroit in 2015. The triennial event comes to Houston in June.

Lutherans have been holding the youth convention for more than 100 years. The Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which became the nation's largest Lutheran denomination through the 1988 merger of three smaller bodies, has continued the event. The Gathering last came to Houston in the late 1960s, officials said.


Houston is an example


A half-century later, Lutheran leaders say that "head and heart issues" in the nation's most diverse metropolitan area can offer life lessons for emerging adults.  "The different ways that you're handling the diversity and some of your social justice issues of human trafficking and homelessness makes Houston a good example for the rest of our urban centers and even suburban and rural areas," said Beck Dean, who is based in Chicago. "I hope that we can come to Houston and really learn what it means to be a multicultural community that cares about social justice issues and then look at how we, as people of faith, live and act and respond to it and help lead.”


In addition to prayer and presentations, the Gathering's "service learning" component teaches youth how ministry can address injustice and inequities.   Cody Miller was hired last year as the Houston-based project manager of service learning for the 2018 Gathering. His job is to listen to potential partners and assess the city's needs, then turn those conversations into projects for participants.


"In Detroit, about 80 percent of their work was boarding up houses because that was the need," he said. "We have so many different things going on that we can do all sorts of projects.”


Every project must have at least 45 students.


The transportation logistics expresses the magnitude of the effort: One bus can carry 45 passengers. There will be about 220 daily busloads of volunteers, which equals about 10,000 people per day. Miller predicts workers will participate in 130 to 140 projects each day.


Creating a lasting impact

So far, two dozen buses each day - roughly 1,000 people or 10 percent of volunteers - are assigned to the Houston Food Bank. About 200 workers daily will connect with Houston's United Against Human Trafficking and its Red Sand Project. Cracks on the ground will be filled with crimson-toned sand beside chalk messages that offer the hashtag #RedSandProject, which organizers hope will lead the curious to information on social media sites including Facebook and Instagram.


"When people walk by, they'll see the red sand and question why it's there and look it up and, in turn, they'll have more awareness about human trafficking," said Miller, a native Houstonian and former aide to two city council members.


In Detroit, the youth participating in the Gathering brought diapers because that's what parents in the community needed most.

Literacy was identified as a crisis among Houston's young people after consultation with the mayor's education director, Miller said.

"Our youth are not learning how to read fast enough," he said. "If they are not able to read and write on grade level by third grade, then the odds are stacked against them.”


For a lasting impact on Houston, the Gathering leaders set a goal to collect 100,000 books for area children to begin or enhance their personal libraries.


Donations are requested from participants and others. The 24 titles of recommended books were provided by the Houston Independent School District.


HISD reports that 76 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged. Children in or near poverty have a high likelihood of insufficient literacy resources at home, which hampers academic achievement. The books donated will be distributed at community book fairs, camps and other events that are part of the Gathering's service learning experiences.  "We recognize that books are most important when they are in the home," Miller said. "We want to be able to intervene in the literacy situation.”


‘Planting Seeds”

Ideally, experiences planned for the "orange shirt kids" produce powerful interactions across socioeconomic, geographic, racial, generational and cultural divides.


"Our interest is in the story. It's not just about painting a house - it's about that resident and about that neighborhood and trying to get an idea about why the house needs to be painted and why they need help painting it and what larger systems are at work," Beck Dean said. "My hope is that it transfers back. There is homelessness and human trafficking in Illinois - just like there is in Houston - but when it's in our own backyards, sometimes we don't even realize it.”


Beck Dean, who is from a small town in rural North Dakota, first attended the Gathering as a high school student in 1997 in New Orleans.

"It was a totally transformational experience for me," she said. "The Gathering has a history of planting the seeds of future service or vocations. We know that kids have 'aha!' moments for what God may be calling them to be in the world. If just one or two of them have that moment, we know that it's worth it."

How can you help our youth prepare?

 1) Pray for them now as we prepare, when we go and when we return. 

 2) Take time to listen to them - talk with them about their trip what are they looking forward to and ESPECIALLY when we return.  (They will have stories!)

 3) Support them in their fundraising efforts.   We are still selling Kwik Trip Car Washes… and will be having other events in the near future. 

 4) Consider joining us as we participate in the ELCA Literacy Project.  



Join us during lent as we engage in the greatest love story ever!   And support and encourage the youth attending the Youth Gathering as they will dive deeper in experiencing, understanding, and living out their faith story. 


Grace and Peace to you all!

Pastor Krista

Additional information