From June 26-29, Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, hosted the WELS International Youth Rally. Approximately 2,100 WELS teens and youth leaders gathered for worship, learning, and fellowship under the theme “Never Alone.” This theme was based on the message of Matthew 28:20: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Attendees were assured that God is ever-present in their lives and that they are not isolated in their belief.
The teens and leaders alike were encouraged and entertained by the events of the rally.
Sophia Busse, Trinity, Waukesha, Wis., remarked, “It’s been really incredible. I’ve never been with so many people who share the same faith.” This was Busse’s first time attending the rally, and she called it a “really cool experience.”
Tabitha Vannieuwenhoven, Luther Preparatory School, Watertown, Wis., enjoyed discussing topics of faith with new people at the rally. “I loved all the workshops and hearing everybody else’s point of view on stuff that my friends and I talk about.”
Youth Leader David Denninger, Redeemer, Maple Grove, Minn., gathered a great deal of knowledge from other leaders to take back to his home congregation, “It’s eye-opening, and you know you’re not alone. There are resources out there, and they’re plentiful. People are giving you ideas about what you can do, and you can do it in your church no matter what the size.”
Rev. Donn Dobberstein was installed as the director of discipleship for WELS’ Congregational Services on the final day of the rally. Affirming the mission of the event, he shared a story he heard from a Florida pastor about his group of teens: “One of them was a teen girl who had just been baptized six months ago. To be able to see this event through her eyes—the eyes of someone who is new to the faith—and then to experience it on a large scale with youth from all over the nation . . . to me, that is what the event means: To let the kids know, like the rally theme says, ‘You are never alone.’”
Rev. John Boggs, a member of the rally planning committee and chairman for the WELS Commission on Discipleship, hopes that the event has a lasting impact on the attitudes of all the WELS teens who were in attendance. “It’s to give them—even if it’s just for a few days—an opportunity to celebrate the fact that their God knows who they are, their God deeply loves them, and he has put people in their lives who want to build them up instead of tear them down,” says Boggs, pastor at Divine Savior, West Palm Beach, Fla. “That’s hopefully something they’ll take with them throughout their lives at this critical time.”
The rally was organized by the WELS Commission on Discipleship. View photos from the rally on Flickr.
View WELS President Rev. Mark Schroeder’s welcome to the attendees.
View all the articles in the full issue.
WELS churches and schools featured in their local media.