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TG14.cmykI once heard it said, “The only way a dream lives is if you keep it alive.”

Since we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Women of the ELCA in 2012, Nelson Mandela’s death in December 2013 and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 85th birthday on January 15, my thoughts often naturally drift to legacy.

Now, while I sit here completing tasks for the upcoming Ninth Triennial Gathering (July 24-27 in Charlotte, NC; I know it’s a shameless plug but, I’m trying to make a point), I realize of many generations (Isaiah 58:12), the gathering theme, is all about legacy and dreaming. But keeping a dream alive requires me to do something.

Nelson was 44 when he walked into prison. Rev. King was 26 when he became the spokesperson for the bus boycott. Their dreams did not start with either of them but their efforts to keep it alive began long before their names were synonymous with it.

And, yes, Lutheran women have been organized and gathering long before Women of the ELCA. Now, for my point. Women of the ELCA will soon be 27 and we’re preparing an awesome gathering but, it will take more than my thinking hopeful thoughts to make sure girls—little ones, teen ones, and young adult ones— are at the gathering where they will experience, learn and practice how to keep dreaming the dream described in Isaiah 58:12.

What can you do? Glad you asked. If you are coming, bring a girl with you. There is a wonderful program planned just for them. If you are not coming, talk to women in your unit, congregation and synodical women’s organization that are and offer a registration or two for girls.

I’m making sure a girl will be present because I realize the only way Women of the ELCA will live is if you and I keep her alive.

Girls ages 13-18 can register for $75 each along with a registered adult. Visit welcatg.org for all the gathering information.

Valora K Starr is director for discipleship.

Comments (4)
Karen Gesalman (Coates) says:
Feb 01, 2014

I am trying to bring my 15 year old niece who is excited to come, however, we hit a road block – convincing her parents to let me bring her. They are worried for her safety? and that she’ll be bored. I know she won’t be & that she enjoys attending our local church and synod’s W/ELCA events. I was looking for some details to what events will interest her and was hoping to get a little more info to help persuade them. Please give us a little more clues as to what the teenager attending both the convention and gathering can do and enjoy. I’d very much appreciate it, hopefuuly it will help our case. Thanks for your help – I keep praying I can bring her.

Valora says:
Feb 03, 2014

First, Karen, thanks so much for going that extra mile. I have a 15- year-old niece who will be at the gathering; we aunties have to support each other. So, let’s start there.

1. Your time and the memories that the two of you will make together is invaluable. And, everyone wins. There is no better gift than to help raise up a woman of faith and to have her come along side you as she sees thousands of faithful women. You will be her personal guide and example! And, you need her to keep you excited and full of hope for the future.

2. We have “Girls Space,” a wonderful place and program that will help the generation of girls present to explore the theme “of many generations” with their peers. The theme text Isaiah 58:12 speaks of us as leaders that restore, rebuild, and repair. This space will be their time together to explore and articulate how they can make a difference in the church, society and the world using examples of biblical and global girl leaders. There will be many activities led by women who are committed to youth ministry and faith formation. They will tackle issues like peace, hunger, and being a leader. They will make friendship bracelets, journals, and hook up with girls that they will call friends forever.

3. Your niece will want to participate in the Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls 5K Run, Walk and Roll with an expected 500 other women and girls.

4. If she likes attending local and SWO events the Triennial Gathering is a SWO event on steroids! There is so much to do– Even our youngest participants can help us meet our goal in making quilts on site for Lutheran World Relief or helping to sort and pack in-kind gifts for local recipients where they can meet many of them on site. She can meet famous people… (gathering speakers and international guests).

5. She will be able to write a great “what did you do this summer” paper. And, you can enjoy the best pajama party ever and you won’t even have to make your beds.

I will continue to pray that all her parent’s need is a little assurance. What a gift to be blessed with a 15 year old that still wants to spend time with you. Gives me goose bumps.

Karen Gesalman (Coates) says:
Feb 04, 2014

Valora –

Thank you so much for your added insight. Its nice to hear you also plan to bring a 15-year old niece. This will be my first time attending convention and gathering. I am so excited because I’ve been waiting years for this opportunity. I’ve heard from many fellow W/ELCA members how wonderful of an event triennel is. The very first time my niece heard about it at a cluster event she immediately asked if we could go. She’s asked several times since too. I just hope I can convince my sister to please let me share it with my niece. Wish me much luck as I’m starting to consider bribery besides paying my niece’s way. My niece & I enjoy doing things together and do so pretty much weekly. We get along great and while this kind of event might not be my sisters “cup of tea”, its ours. (My sister isn’t very involved with the church). I hope you have a wonderful time with your niece. I’m sure your an awesome aunt! Wish me luck & keep us in prayer 🙂

– Karen

Valora Starr says:
Feb 05, 2014

You bet Karen! I am confident that we will me there, so, let’s plan on it!

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