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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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What's a yurt?

Washington youth call it a place of their own

Bethany Lutheran Church, Bainbridge Island, Wash., has a new youth meeting hall. It's a yurt.

A yurt? It's a round tent with a center peak, the traditional home of Mongolian herders, whether on the edge of the Gobi Desert or the grassy ranges of the Siberian Steppes.

Bethany's yurt is the product of Nesting Birds Yurts, Suquamish, Wash. Many youth were among the 30 people who erected the yurt with the help of Jenny Pell of Nesting Bird and Craig Pierce, a contractor and church member.

Ben Deines, a Bethany member, said his youth group needed its own space. For years they shared the social hall with adult groups with only a partition separating them. The yurt was a $15,000 project, half paid from the youth group's funds. Bethany members chipped in $150 per rafter in a special "Raise the Roof" campaign.

The yurt opened with two pieces of donated furniture and electricity brought in with an extension cord. The long-range plan calls for carpeting and more furnishings.

What's the reaction to the yurt? "Everyone's all excited about it," Deines said. "It's kind of a novelty that's just kind of cool."


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