The title was all it took to get women wanting to get into the Café Chocolate Lounge event Thursday evening. And though women of every age are attending the Ninth Triennial Gathering July 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C., the requirement to get this particular chocolate was being a woman in your 20s or 30s.
“I really enjoyed the chocolate, and I met another woman who was a first timer as well,” said Alyssa Huenniger, young adult at the gathering. “We had breakfast this morning and we really hit it off.”
“I am at my third Triennial,” said Ashley Ellison. “I love meeting all the new people, having conversations with random people, and traveling with my grandparents to all the different places is a lot of fun. Also, hearing all the women’s stories and what they are doing in their own congregations, makes me feel empowered and want to start really getting involved in my own.”
Empowering these young women is one of the goals Women of the ELCA hopes to accomplish. Young women are the future of the church and will one day be in charge. However, Women of the ELCA needs to focus on bringing more of them in, according to Ellison and Huenniger.
“Although it is a lot of fun, I would like to see more people around my own age,” said Ellison. “I have seen a few but not in the numbers they need to be in.”
To help support the participation of young women, some ELCA synods offered scholarships.
“If it was not for the sponsorship I received from the ELCA Southeastern Synod, I probably would not be here,” said Huenniger. “I don’t have the extra cash for a plane ticket or hotel, since majority of the money that I do have goes towards school. I think if synods advertised sponsorship or offered to help a little with the expenses, then the young people would come to these kinds of events.”
“All Women of the ELCA that I have met are fantastic and I will definitely be encouraging young adults to come with me to the next Triennial Gathering,” said Huenniger.
Photos: Top, New churchwide executive board President Patti Austin greets chocolate loungers; right, Yvonne Lembo, exhibitor, enjoys her time in the chocolate lounge.
Jeremy Lensing/ELCA News Service