“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
On November 13-14, 2021, 321 participants from 30 congregations gathered at the Embassy Suites in LaVista for the 2021 Nebraska District Middle School Gathering. This year, those entering 9th grade were invited as a special “COVID Class,” giving them an extra year of eligibility, as there were no gatherings held in 2020.
Each Middle School Gathering is one piece of a three-part journey for 6th-8th grade students based on the keywords KNOW, GROW, and SHOW. The theme of this Gathering was “GrOw,” based on 2 Peter 3:18, reminding students that every day they are called to GROW in the knowledge and truth of Jesus Christ as they learn how God PLANTS a seed of faith in them through baptism, PRUNES their lives for growth, and calls them to live by the Spirit to PRODUCE fruit for Him that lasts an eternity!
Spencer Owen, director of youth ministry at Divine Shepherd, Omaha, said, “We took 16 youth to the District Youth Gathering and all of them absolutely loved it! To see middle schoolers come out of their ‘shells’ and make new friends with others from around the state and GROWing personally and as a group was really special. As an adult leader, it always brings me joy to see youth soaking up God’s Word and His promises, especially in a way that’s relatable and interactive.”
Kari Benson, who brought a group from Trinity, Grand Island, said that she “enjoyed seeing other youth leaders in action, sharing their love for God, as well as their talents! Many of the leaders impacted the kids with stories of their life and how they felt they were underdogs as youth, made mistakes along the way but listened as God used the Holy Spirit to guide them and are now happy, successful, advocates for Christ!” Avia, one of teens from Trinity said, ““I really liked all of the music and the different games… There was one game that showed all of the different lifestyles we have. I liked that. We’re all different.” Her father, who was an adult leader and attended with the Trinity group said, “I thought it was really neat that in a world that seemingly does everything possible to separate people and place them into one box, this group of adults and kids came together for a weekend to be under one cross. We all have different backgrounds, stories, walks of life. But, we were all there for the same purpose for a couple of days.”
The next gathering will be held November 13-14, 2022 in Kearney with the theme centered on the word SHOW! SO, students learn how they are are redeemed and sanctified for a life that will SHOW whose they are and will witness to others by HOW they show love in our lives!