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Thousands of Lutheran Teenagers to Attend ELCA Youth Gathering in San Antonio in July

To: National Desk

Contact: John R. Brooks, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 773-380-2958, john.brooks@elca.org

CHICAGO, June 15 /Christian Newswire/ -- About 40,000 high-school-age and adult Lutherans from the United States and around the world will renew their faith as they gather for the 2006 Youth Gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The gathering will take place in two back-to-back events -- July 5-9 and July 12-16 -- at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

A detailed report on the 2006 ELCA Youth Gathering is at http://www.elca.org/news/Releases.asp?a=3374 on the ELCA Web site.

The gathering will feature activities built around the theme "Cruzando: Journey with Jesus." Cruzando is a Spanish word for "crossing." The gathering will have a Latin emphasis, said Heidi Hagstrom, director, ELCA Youth Gathering, inviting participants to celebrate global diversity, nurture their faith and support youth ministry. The ELCA Youth Gathering is held every three years under a unique theme.

Each day of the gathering will begin and end with programs at the Alamodome. Participants choose from a variety of activities between mass gatherings.

A significant feature of the gathering will be volunteer opportunities known as "servant events," work projects in the San Antonio area. Projects include reading to and playing with children at the Boys and Girls Clubs East and West, serving at a food bank, working with the San Antonio Police Department and more. Young Lutherans will also be cleaning neighborhoods and parks in and around San Antonio.

More than 15 keynote presenters will highlight mass gatherings. Speakers include the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA and president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and the Rev. Margarita Martinez, bishop of the ELCA Caribbean Synod, Dorado, Puerto Rico. The LWF is a global communion representing 62.3 million of the world's nearly 65.4 million Lutherans. Other speakers include the Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine and organizer of the Call to Renewal -- a national federation of faith-based organizations working to overcome poverty; Dr. Kristine M. Gebbie, a former member of the first Presidential Commission on AIDS; and Donald Miller, author of the book "Blue Like Jazz."

Throughout the 2006 Youth Gathering participants will strive to raise funds for the ELCA World Hunger Appeal and San Antonio organizations that support families and children.