By Susan Shinn Turner
This is not Kai Thurow’s first rodeo.
Before he became St. John’s youth minister, Kai led two trips to the National Lutheran Youth Gathering. From June 26 to July 2, he’ll lead 35 youth and five fellow chaperones to Houston.
Each year, the Texas city hosts the world’s largest rodeo — hence the Western-based theme for the Youth Auction on March 24.
The 12th annual event will take place in the fellowship hall. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for youth ages 12 and under. The evening begins with a silent auction at 5:30 pm, a barbecue dinner with all the trimmings at 5:45 pm, and a live auction at 7:30 pm. Seating is limited to 250.
The goal of the auction is to raise $18,000. Each youth and chaperone has committed to paying $500 a piece, with a total cost of $1,150 per person and an overall budget set at $27,300. As is typical, Kai says that several families have more than one child and/or parent attending the gathering.
“I talk to a lot of youth directors,” Kai says, “and we’re incredibly blessed to have a congregation that encourages our youth to grow their faith, learn about service work, and themselves. We have a lot of youth new to our program who are excited about going, so that’s an exciting piece of this as well.”
During Sundays in March before the dinner, youth members will have auction tickets available outside each worship space, and for Wednesday meals as youth members are available.
The theme of this year’s National Lutheran Youth Gathering is “This Changes Everything.” St. John’s youth, along with 32,000 other youth and chaperones from across the country, will be working in the Houston area on sustainable service projects, Kai says. “I think it’s interesting we’re going to Houston as they’re recovering from the Hurricane Harvey devastation.”
He points out that the last gathering had an economic impact of $30 million for the city of Detroit. Earlier this year, Kai attended an ELCA continuing education event in Houston and had the opportunity to visit venues for the gathering.
Other chaperones include Jake and Carole Parrott, Krista Woolly and Krista May, nearly all of the high school youth advisors, Kai says. Lauren Thurow will attend as a representative of the N.C. Synod.
“The number-one thing I’ve seen youth take away from these gatherings is just seeing the sheer number of high-schoolers from around the country whose beliefs are similar,” Kai notes. “Seeing that many people with a common goal is powerful to experience, and hard to explain if you’re not there.”
Along with the service component, the trip will also feature leadership development and opportunities for spiritual growth, Kai says. “Our youth will return with their hearts set on fire, and ready to do things in our community as Christ’s hands and feet.”
Contact Kai in the church office or any high school youth member for tickets.