Frequently Asked Questions
General Gathering FAQ
What is the LCMS Youth Gathering?
Held every 3 years since 1980, the LCMS Youth Gathering (Gathering) provides thousands of youth and adults the opportunity to come together as a community of God’s people to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Christian faith and their Lutheran identity.
During the 5 days of the Gathering, youth spend time together in God’s Word, worship, service and fellowship with others from across the synod. This event is organized by LCMS Youth Ministry in Saint Louis, MO.
When and Where is the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?
The next LCMS Youth Gathering will be July 9-13, 2022 in Houston, TX.
Facilities include a connected complex of the George R. Brown Convention Center, Hilton Americas Downtown, and the Marriott Marquis. Discovery Green, an urban park, is located between the 3 buildings.
What is the Theme for the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?
The theme for the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering is “In All Things” and is centered around Colossians 1:15-20. To learn more about the theme refer to the Theological Foundation and Talking Points documents.
What is the Gathering Registration Cost?
The Gathering registration fee is $395 per participant. This fee covers all Gathering program and Office of National Mission Youth Ministry administrative costs and secondary insurance for all participants. Hotel, travel and meal costs are not included in the registration fee.
After March 2, 2022, participants will continue to be admitted to the Gathering on a space available basis for the late registration fee of $450.
Are Recordings of the 2019 Gathering Speakers Available?
Yes! Stadium Event speakers (including Mass Events and Worship) can be watched on the Gathering’s YouTube channel. Many Session speakers were also recorded and can be listened to as podcasts on KFUO Radio or Spotify.
COVID-19 FAQ (Updated June 2022)
What is the LCMS Youth Gathering Response to COVID-19?
We give thanks to God that the pandemic has subsided over the last months. However, we continue to plan with diligently to protect ourselves from the virus and other sickness. We are in continual conversations with the City of Houston and government and health officials about the developments of COVID-19. We always pray for God’s protection of the event and for wisdom to make decisions about our health and safety.
As was stated previously, as we plan for the Gathering in July 2022, we consider at minimum three important contexts:
- We trust local congregations, families, and individuals to look out for the health of their young people. We know congregational groups will want healthy youth and adults getting on planes, buses, and vehicles to come to the event. Good practices around recognizing health conditions, COVID-19 testing, and the use of vaccines are all an important part of best practices for group events and travel. The health of participants is our primary concern, and healthy participants will make for a healthier event.
- We have amazing partners in the City of Houston. They are keeping planners updated on facility safety precautions, local health data, and safety precautions. The staff of hotels, restaurants, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and Minute Maid Park are taking precautions to create a safe location for events and conferences. We will continue to monitor the health safety of other events in Houston.
- We have continually watched the results of best health practices at other large conferences, concerts, and sporting events. By God’s grace, activity has increased at such events in the Spring of 2022 as we see positive progress in the use of vaccines, natural immunity to COVID-19, and health practices.
As you are aware, COVID-19 has brought many uneven changes to our lives together. We give thanks for your patience and grace as we walked together through this pandemic and planned this event. We don’t take for granted that things can change on a regular basis. We continue to pray for the health of our young people, adult leaders, LCMS members and our nation.
What COVID-19 Precautions are You Planning on Having in Place for the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?
As the situation with the pandemic changes, so do many of the precautions and safeguards used by churches, schools, and events like sports, concerts, and conferences. We will use federal, state, local, and industry health guidelines to inform our decisions to provide a safe environment around COVID-19.
The City of Houston and our contracted facilities have made many changes to accommodate people, including: hand sanitizing stations, sliding doors, air filtration units, and water stations with bottle fillers. To learn more about the City of Houston’s response for conferences like the LCMS Youth Gathering, visit www.grbhouston.com/covid-19-health-safety-plan.
We hope that adult leaders, parents, and youth will discuss what precautions they expect to take in advance of the event. Each congregation may have their own experience with COVID and risk factors to take into consideration.
If Policies Change, or an Individual Youth or Adult is No Longer Comfortable Attending, Will Funds be Refunded?
If the person cancels before June 1, 2022, funds except for the $150 deposit can be refunded based on the Gathering policy. After June 1, funds will not be refunded.
Must One be Vaccinated to Attend the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?
We strongly encourage everyone to talk as a family, with trusted advisors, and with their health care providers about the vaccination and whether this is an option. You are not required to be vaccinated to attend the Gathering. As of June 1, 2022, in relation to the LCMS Youth Gathering, we are not aware of any Houston hotels, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Minute Maid Park, or airlines which require a proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test. To learn more about the vaccine or how to get an appointment, please visit https://www.vaccines.gov/.
Are masks or face coverings encouraged or required?
Attendees should bring a sufficient supply of suitable face coverings for the time of their travel and the event. Depending on the condition of the pandemic, coverings may be required on planes, public transportation, or other areas or venues. Due to the nature of the Gathering, masks and face coverings are encouraged, but not required. Face coverings are especially helpful for participants who are unvaccinated or immuno-compromised. At this time, no Gathering hotels or facilities require face masks or coverings.
How are social distancing and healthy habits encouraged?
Events like the LCMS Youth Gathering make full social distancing difficult while attending sessions, mass events, and sharing hotel rooms. When possible, participants are encouraged to practice social distancing (food lines, etc.) and to remain in their congregational groups to limit interactions with those outside of their group.
Masks are also encouraged when participants are in extended times of close proximity to other people. Attendees are expected to practice health self-evaluation and good hand hygiene. Although servicing of hotel rooms may be limited, participants are encouraged to clean their hotel rooms. Use disinfecting wipes or other supplies to keep rooms clean.
What if an attendee feels ill with COVID-19-like symptoms?
All participants are encouraged to perform a brief daily health self-evaluation. Participants should not attend the event if they have symptoms of COVID, or have recently been in close contact with someone with symptoms of COVID and have not been vaccinated.
- Administer a COVID test. We highly recommend you pack a home COVID test for each participant attending with your group.
- If no test is available, the participant should not attend Gathering events and should be quarantined in their hotel room. Adult leaders may have to adjust rooming within the given hotel block. An adult leader should stay at the hotel with any youth and assist them. The Gathering will not provide isolation rooms.
- If a test is positive, the participant should not attend Gathering events and be quarantined in their hotel room. An adult leader should stay at the hotel with any youth and assist them.
- Participants are encouraged to watch the Mass Events via live stream. Other program components of the Gathering will be available on the Gathering social network accounts.
- Contact your Hotel Gathering Ambassador and notify them of the situation. No personal information needs to be provided, but just let them know you have a COVID case.
- If a youth, be sure to call their parent or guardian.
- Other participants should be moved to another hotel room. If you do not have space in your current block of rooms, your hotel may be able to arrange another room. If an individual had extensive close contact with the sick individual, and is not vaccinated, special attention should be given to this individual around watching for symptoms and testing.
- All other participants from the group are encouraged to wear masks to help protect other Gathering participants.
- Keep in mind, Gathering planners are available to provide assistance, prayer, and guidance through the Gathering HelpLine, 713-853-8403.
What if we are flying and a participant tests positive for COVID-19 in Houston?
If flying, groups should have this discussion before leaving for Houston. We recommend participants follow the CDC Guidelines for travel to take care of themselves and to not infect others. Likely, with this drawn-out schedule, a parent or loved one might fly or drive to Houston to be with the participant and possibly drive them home if symptoms aren’t extreme. Again, the HelpLine and LCMS Youth Ministry can provide some support to the participant and their family.
Gathering Participant FAQ
What is the Age Requirement to be an Adult Leader?
Participants who are 21 years or older by the time of the Gathering are able to attend the Gathering as a Primary Adult Leader (PAL) or Adult Leader. Those who are 19 – 25 years old may also serve as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV).
What Are the Age Requirements for Participants?
The LCMS Youth Gathering’s primary focus is for youth participants between the ages of 14 to 19. To register for the 2022 Gathering, youth participants must meet ONE of the two following eligibility requirements:
– Must be 14 years old at the time of the Gathering
– Entering his or her ninth-grade year at the time of the Gathering.
While we do allow students from the ages of 14 to 20 to attend, please keep in mind that some of the program content may not be relevant to older youth participants.
We suggest that students who are 19 and older, one year out of high school, or have been to at least one previous Gathering apply to be a Young Adult Volunteer.
What is the Recommended Youth-to-Adult Ratio for a Group?
The Youth Gathering promotes a ratio comparing youth to adults in order to provide sufficient space for youth to attend the event. An official ratio for the 2022 Gathering will be released at a later date, and we provide the 2019 ratio as a guideline for planning. The youth-to-adult ratio allows congregations flexibility in determining the number of Adult Leaders they select to attend the Gathering. The Gathering values the involvement of parents, pastors, church workers, and other supportive adults in the faith life of young people and encourages their participation as Adult Leaders at the Gathering.
Youth-to-Adult Ratio Recommended
# of Youth # of Adults
Beyond 48 youth participants, it is recommended that groups continue to add one adult for every 5 youth.
It is strongly recommended that:
- All groups have at least two adults and that each Community Group include at least two youth
- Congregations secure criminal background checks for its Adult Leaders: www.protectmyministry.com; www.aaimea.org
Congregations with only one youth attending the Gathering can be connected to other LCMS congregations by their District Coordinator (beginning Spring 2021). For more information about District Coordinators, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Should Young Adults (Aged 19-25) Apply as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV)?
Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) have the unique opportunity to work behind the scenes and help the Gathering run smoothly. While their primary role is to serve the participants, they are also able to experience some elements of the Gathering along the youth and Adult Leaders.
LCMS Youth Gatherings are also the largest gathering for young adults in the entire LCMS! While they serve, YAVs will meet hundreds of other Lutheran young adults and form new friendships. A great amount of community is cultivated within this group of young people.
The LCMS Youth Gathering’s primary focus is for Youth Participants between the ages of 14 to 19. We suggest that students who are 19 and older, one year out of high school, and have been to at least one previous Gathering apply to be a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV). Find more information and how to apply to be a YAV on the Young Adult Volunteer link under the Volunteer tab.
Why Does the Gathering Mandate that we Stay in their Contracted Hotels?
Much thought and energy goes into selecting appropriate housing for the Gathering participants. Each of the Gathering hotels has been reviewed and selected based on its location, safety, comfort, accessibility, and affordability. If a hotel is on our list, be assured that it’s been purposefully chosen.
PROGRAM – Attending the LCMS Youth Gathering is a unique experience. Your group, regardless of how large or small, is part of the “whole”. The time your group spends at your hotel is part of the makeup of your overall Gathering experience. Planned activities such as community life activities and Bible studies may take place at specific Gathering hotels. These are vital pieces of the Gathering experience that you don’t want to miss!
SAFETY – Beyond programming, the safety and security of all Gathering participants is extremely important. By having every registered participant in one of our contracted hotels, you are essentially “findable” by Gathering support volunteers. Over the past 35+ years of Gatherings, this has proven to be invaluable.
INFORMATION – Community Life Builders (CLB’s) are assigned to each of the Gathering properties. They have been specifically trained to conduct informational meetings there; provide pertinent Gathering information, updates, and schedule changes; and hear any issues or concerns that you may have. CLBs serve as your main informational contact while at the Gathering. If you are outside of our hotel block, you will not have access to this valuable resource.
COMMUNITY – The fun and fellowship of meeting new friends during your time in Houston takes place at the hotels. If you were to secure your own accommodations at a condo, time share or hotel outside of the Gathering’s room block, you would miss out on this important piece of your overall Gathering experience.
Can My Group Stay in Our Gathering Hotel Before or After the Event?
Yes. Typically, groups may arrange to stay three days before or after the Gathering (July 9-13, 2022) in their assigned hotel rooms.
Can I Bring My Family (Babies, Younger Children, Pre-Teens, Additional Adults Like Spouses, Grandparents, etc.) to the Gathering?
While LCMS Youth Ministry understands the importance of family and values family experiences centered around God’s Word and Sacraments, the LCMS Youth Gathering is specifically intended for youth aged 14 – 19 years old. Teenagers are at an important stage of life developmentally, socially and spiritually where values and beliefs are personally sought out and formed. Subject matter taught and discussed at the Gathering is intentionally and carefully created and presented for a teenage audience. We thank you for respecting this guideline and for prayerfully supporting your youth before, during, and after the Gathering.
LCMS Youth Ministry has provided a recommended youth-to-adult ratio to provide an appropriate number of spots for all youth who wish to attend. The ratio allows for a nurturing environment that respects the youth’s desire for individualism and autonomy. (See above for information on the Youth-to-Adult ratio.)
Can Youth Who Are Not Members of the Congregation Attend?
Yes! The Gathering is a great event for youth to invite friends who are not members of their church but are longing to learn more about God’s love for them in Jesus. Be sure to include these friends and their parents in all pre-Gathering meetings and events. These meetings are ideal times to discuss Scripture; support faith development; and introduce congregational pastors, church workers and members.
General Volunteer FAQ
What is the cost to volunteer?
Young Adult Volunteers pay the registration fee of $395 and receive housing. This fee is waived for Team Flex volunteers. Depending on the role, there are other costs associated with the role. See the volunteer descriptions to determine the cost.
I can only take a couple days off of work. How can I serve?
Team Flex is the place for you! On Team Flex you can serve 1 day or 5 days, and also anywhere from 4-8hours a day.
What are the different ways I can volunteer at the Gathering?
Age 19-25: If able to commit to serving July 7-13, 2022, Young Adult Volunteers (Orange Nation) is the place for you! If unable to commit for that entire time, Team Flex is the place for you!
Age 25 and Older: The Team Flex application is open for you to apply. The application for Gathering Ambassadors has closed. Team Flex and Gathering Ambassadors are all a part of the Blue Crew.
I am age 19-25. How can I serve?
The Young Adult Volunteer team (Orange Nation) is the place for you! If unable to commit to serving July 7-13, 2022, Team Flex is the place for you!
I am local. How can I serve?
If you are aged 19-25 (at the time of the Gathering), consider serving with other young adults as a Young Adult Volunteers. Team Flex is also a great opportunity for you. As part of Team Flex you can serve for a few hours a day or even all day at the gathering. You can even sleep at home, in your own bed, at night! On Team Flex you can connect as you have time and availability.
I am 25 or older. How can I serve?
Team Flex is the place for you!
What if I can volunteer the entire Gathering and training (July 7-13)?
Volunteers age 19-25 years old may apply to be a Young Adult Volunteer (Orange Nation).
May I Serve as a Volunteer and An Adult Leader for My Church?
No, you may not serve as an adult leader for your church’s group while also serving as a volunteer. A volunteer’s time commitment does not allow a person to also serve in an adult leader role. Volunteers have an opportunity to visit with their group in their “off” time.
Adult Volunteer FAQ
What is Team Flex?
Team Flex is a part of the Blue Crew. This volunteer role is open to anyone 19+ who wants to serve for less than the full Gathering or who applies after other Volunteer role applications have closed. Team Flex volunteers are awesome servants who will help at the gathering in so many different ways. These volunteers are able and willing to serve for a minimum of 4 hours for a single day or up to 8 hours a day for 5 days. Team Flex will be found helping all around the Gathering. Volunteers of all skill sets can find a home with Team Flex! As we get closer to the Gathering we will ask for your availability and we will find a place for you to serve. Team Flex volunteers are identified by their blue shirts and blue swag!
Gathering provides: Access to the Gathering & a great crew of new friends! Team Flex Volunteers are responsible for: Meal. their own housing & travel to and from the Gathering.
What is a Gathering Ambassador?
A Gathering Ambassador is a part of the Blue Crew (Formerly Community Life Builders or CLBs). These adult volunteers (25+) serve for the duration of the Gathering in many capacities. They are servant leaders and a trusted voice, helping participants have a safe and awesome experience. These volunteers look forward to serving you and will be dressed in Blue with Yellow swag!
The 2022 Gathering Ambassador application is closed.
Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) FAQ
What is a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV)?
Young Adult volunteers serve as role models and servant leaders while working in all corners of the Gathering. These teams are also a place where YAVs meet other Young Adults as they are supported physically, mentally, and spiritually. Young Adult Volunteers are fun, friendly and flexible. They’re ready to help engage participants and aid in traffic flow and safety from early morning to late at night.
Gathering provides: housing. YAVs are responsible for registration costs and travel arrangements.
What is a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Captain?
Captains will be tasked to lead a team of approximately 12 to 24 Young Adult Volunteers in specific area(s) of the Gathering.
Captains have the responsibility and privilege to care for one of these teams, communicate with the YAV Planning team, Squad Leader and Gathering Planners of their area(s) of service, and be a willing caregiver for the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of those on their team.
Gathering provides: housing. Captains are responsible for registration costs and travel arrangements.
How do I know if I paid my down payment and/or full payment and are registered as a YAV?
If you paid only your deposit, log into the registration program and select “Fees and Payment”. The receipt of your payment will be on that screen. When paid in full, you will instantly receive an emailed receipt from “LCMS Registration”.
How do I connect with other Young Adult Volunteers?
The YAV planning team will send out an email from email@example.com on next steps including a Facebook group for all 2022 Young Adult Volunteers that have paid their deposit or full payment. We will send these out every Tuesday starting February 15th. You can also connect to our Instagram and Facebook page (both under OrangeNationYA).
Where will Young Adults be staying? What is housing like?
Young Adults will be staying at a hotel(s) in downtown Houston. Arrangements will be made after the number of confirmed YAVs is known. Housing is covered in your registration free. Young Adults will be housed with 4 in a room for rooms with 2 beds. Rooms with sofa sleepers may house 5 participants.
Can I request my roommate(s)
The Gathering is not accepting roommate requests. Part of the YAV experience allows you to meet and room with new people. Young Adults will be housed based on gender and team/job assignment. If you have friends who will also be YAVs, you will probably have great opportunities to see them during your time in Houston.
Can I hang out with my youth group? Can I attend my district event?
During your off time, you are welcome to connect with your church, friends or hang with other YAVs. Because you won’t know your job assignment until later, thus what time you will be volunteering, you won’t be able to plan for paid events like a district event.
Are any meals included?
We anticipate breakfast being available where YAV’s will be housed. YAV’s will be responsible for most of their other meals.
When will I find out my Volunteer Assignment?
Job assignments will come out after May 1, once we know our final number of Young Adult Volunteers.
When should I arrive and depart as a Young Adult Volunteers?
Young Adults should arrive at YAV housing on July 7th by 5pm to guarantee that you get checked in and registered and ready for training that evening. Give yourself an hour to get from the airport to housing, so flights should be landed before 4pm. If you are captain or Squad Leader, you should be at the housing by 4pm.
Can we come early or stay later than the dates of the event?
You are welcome to come into town before or after your required time, but you are responsible for reserving and paying for your housing.
You should be able to volunteer until noon on July 13th. If you are traveling by plane, you should plan flights after 2:30pm to give yourself enough time to make it to the airport.
What if I pay my down payment or full payment and then discover that I can no longer attend?
Your down payment of $150 is nonrefundable. If you paid the full $395 and find out you cannot attend the Gathering before May 1, $245 will be refunded ($395 minus the $150 down payment). No refunds will be available after May 1.
If I am traveling by plane, what airport(s) should I fly into?
You can fly into George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) or William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).
Will there be a shuttle to and from the airport for YAVs?
We hope to have details on this at the same time we share Volunteer assignments. For now, we ask Young Adults to budget for the possibility they will have to pay for a shuttle, cab or ride share.
Is there free parking available?
Parking where the YAVs will be housed will have a cost. We are working on free parking options at locations outside of the downtown area. We hope to have these details at the same time we share volunteer assignments.
What do I need to bring?
A comprehensive list will be updated as we get closer to the Gathering but here is a list to get started:
- An open mind and a servant heart
- Clothes appropriate for the outdoor hot and humid climate and cool air conditioned temperatures inside buildings. Keep in mind you are working with Sr. High Students. Remember comfortable, but modest clothing and dress in layers. You will receive two orange t-shirts, one should be worn when you are at your service area.
- Closed-toed shoes for working
- Comfortable clothes for time spent off hours
- Orange Flair (You will receive some, but you are welcome to bring your own as well)
- Personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
- Sun Screen
- Special dietary items, if needed.
- Picture ID
- Money for food and souvenirs.
- Power bank or Bolt charger to recharge phone (not going to be many places to charge as you serve)
- AN ATTITUDE TO BE FUN, FRIENDLY AND FLEXIBLE
When is my final payment due?
Final payments are due on or before May 13. YAVs can pay online or by check to the Gathering Office.
Music Opportunities Volunteer FAQ
What are the Gathering Music Opportunities?
The LCMS Youth Gathering culminates in Worship at the concluding Divine Service with Holy Communion. Youth have opportunity to be involved by sharing their artistic gifts and talents with the Gathering through participating in the Gathering Wind Symphony or Choir. All applications and audition videos must be submitted online by April 20, 2022. Applicants will be notified by mail by May 25, 2022 of their selection. Members of the Wind Symphony and Choir will receive a pack of music and CD so the music can be learned in advance of the Gathering.
If I am selected as a Choir or Wind Symphony member, what are the expectations of me during the Gathering?
Members are expected to attend three afternoon rehearsals at the Hilton for approximately 90 minutes on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Afternoon rehearsals serve as the day’s final session before dinner for all Symphony and Choir participants. An early morning dress rehearsal will be held in Minute Maid Park on Wednesday before the closing service. Serving in the Wind Symphony and Choir does not conflict with other Gathering programming.
Who is directing the Wind Symphony for the 2022 Gathering?
Dr. Richard Fischer, Distinguished Professor of Music and the Fred and Jane Wittlinger Endowed Chair for Music Performance, is in his 48th year as director of the Wind Symphony and University Band at Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill. He holds the Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees from De Paul University and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University. He has also studied at Cornell College and the University of Northern Colorado.
Since Fischer’s arrival in 1974, the Wind Symphony has performed concerts throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and South Africa. The Wind Symphony has also performed at the National Conference of the College Band Directors National Association, the Illinois Music Educators Conference, and numerous Lutheran Education Association convocations. In the fall of 1995, the ensemble performed at The Symphony Center in Chicago. The Wind Symphony performed as the “Showcase Ensemble” for the New York City Wind Band Festival at Carnegie Hall in 2014 and 2019. Dr. Fischer is in frequent demand as a presenter, guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Japan and Australia.
Who is directing the Choir for the 2022 Gathering?
Kurt E. von Kampen is the fourth conductor in the 83-year history of the University A Cappella Choir. Before coming to Concordia in 1998, he served as head of the choral program at Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan and as director of music at Lutheran High School in Westland and Northwest in the Detroit area. He is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Nebraska Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Education (MENC). From 2004 to 2007, he served on the LCMS Commission on Worship. In 2007 he received the university’s annual award for excellence in teaching. Kurt has conducted the honor choir for the National Youth Gathering for the past four gatherings. He was awarded the 2012 Choral Director of the year award by the Nebraska Choral Directors Association.
Can I still volunteer for the Music Opportunities for the 2022 Gathering?
No. Applicaitons for the Gathering Music Opportunities closed on April 21, 2022.
When will I know if I was selected to volunteer in the Choir or Wind Symphony?
Applicants will be notified by mail by May 25, 2022 of their selection. Members of the Wind Symphony and Choir will recieve a pack of music and CD so that the music can be learned in advance of the Gathering.
Still have Questions?
Please contact the LCMS Youth Gathering Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.