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No gay/lesbian event for Youth Gathering in 2000

During its March 5-8 meeting, the Lutheran Youth Organization board decided against a gathering for homosexual and bisexual youth preceding its triennial ELCA Youth Gathering in the year 2000. But the board committed ELCA youth to "pursue a dynamic, interactive, open and welcoming ministry" with gay, lesbian and bisexual young people.

At its 1997 convention, LYO members voted to ask the church to "investigate the feasibility" of an event for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth. Two other events usually precede the gathering: the Definitely Abled Youth Leadership Event and the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event.

"We found that planning this gathering wasn't feasible because we couldn't determine how to create a safe environment" for participants, said Meredith Lovell, board member from Ellicott City, Md. The board decided there are other ways to do ministry with gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

Last fall the board designated 1998 as "A Year of Prayer" for homosexual and bisexual youth. The LYO had set April 29 as a day for prayer and fasting for the "personal and faith issues facing gay, lesbian and bisexual youth."

At the March meeting the board discussed future directions for LYO including prayer, fellowship at all levels and work on social issues as a calling and as evangelism.

"Teenagers are leaving the church, and we want to know why," Lovell said. "The youth organization wants to find ways of helping congregations invite young people into the life of the church once again. Envisioning the future will help make the work of the LYO board more relevant to the youth sitting in the pew."


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