In the news: Local member to speak to national ELCA youth

Group 236

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

That inspiring quote from Mahatma Gandhi plus service work opportunities and wrestling with questions of faith, inspired Greg Von Wald to help change the world after participating in the ELCA Youth Gathering three years ago. Van Wald, a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Gaithersburg, Md., will take the stage and speak to an estimated 35,000 participants at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering to be held July 18-22 in New Orleans.

Now entering college in the fall, Von Wald will major in integrated science and technology “to develop and refine new methods of renewable energy. Everyone knows that global warming is a problem.” He also has traveled to economically depressed areas in the United States continuing volunteer work.

Participants in the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering will explore the theme: “Citizens with the saints.” Keynote speakers, worship, service opportunities and playtime will include a challenge to address the literacy rate. “ELCA youth will be distributing books to children by hosting 25 book festivals through the New Orleans Recreation Department and the New Orleans Communities in Schools organization,” among other activities, said Heidi Hagstrom, director of the gatherings.

“I want young people to return to their congregations as leaders, demonstrating what they’ve learned and possibly igniting the whole congregations’ imagination” for mission, Hagstrom said.

That’s happened at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. “Greg is one of our really energized and active high school (now enter college) youth!” said the Rev. Stephen Buechler, the congregation’s pastor.

The majority of this article is taken from “35,000 ELCA teenage, adult members to descend on New Orleans, July 18-22” (ELCA News Service, 7/2/12)