ALL TENNESSEE 2021
SAVE THE DATE: November 13-14, 2021
an IN-PERSON gathering of all youth (6th-12th grade) of the Southeastern Synod,
especially those from Tennessee
One of the crucial things to remember about the people that we strive to honor and advocate for on the synod’s Diversity and Justice Task Force (people of color, LBGTQ+ folks, women, and people with disabilities) is that we are ALL different, both from folks in the general population AND from each other. We have different politics, skills, experiences, and personalities. On the one hand, it can be helpful for folks on the margins to band together for resources and support. On the other hand, being a part of such groups can tend to make your life all about one thing, and we are all about many things. As a pastor who serves from a wheelchair, I am one of the very few like me in the whole ELCA. I am both disappointed and relieved that there is no such thing as a “Disabled Clergy Group” in our synod.
As human beings, we are naturally nervous around people who look or act differently than we do. One of the greatest sources of isolation and misunderstanding is our difficulty in asking our questions out loud. When it comes to people with disabilities, I gladly make myself available as a resource for pastors and congregations, but in a nutshell, my advice is ASK!
Ask before jumping in to help somebody with a task. Sometimes disabled people greatly appreciate your help pushing a wheelchair, opening a door, etc. But other times we prefer to do the job ourselves, even if it is harder or takes us a little longer. And sometimes your jumping into help us throws us off balance and makes the job harder than if you never showed up. Over the years, I have learned to receive help graciously (mostly), but sometimes letting someone else help us is the hardest thing ever!
Ask people about their stories. This is good advice for any new person you meet. Almost everybody likes to talk about themselves, especially to a sincere and caring audience. Don’t whisper and point. Just ask me straight up, and I will tell you. Kids are great models for this. They have not learned to be afraid like most of us adults. They put their questions right out there. I would much rather that people ask me than be afraid of me. At the same time, if you ask me to share myself, please be willing to share yourself as well. It’s called friendship.
Ask people to help you. People with disabilities have lots of other skills and interests other than their disabilities. Learn about our hobbies and passions, just like you would anybody else. In a congregational setting, don’t forget to ask the person with the disability to consider serving on the Youth Ministry committee, the Stewardship committee, or the Church Council. And don’t assume that a person can’t do something because of their disability. We are almost always the best judges of what we can and can’t do. When I was a Campus Pastor at Georgia Tech, one of my interns happened to be a little person. Max is physically strong with a servant’s heart. When the students and I would go on outings in downtown Atlanta, Max regularly volunteered to push me. It took me a while to realize how funny it must have looked to others to see a little person pushing my wheelchair. We didn’t care. Every time we crossed the street, Max would say, “if somebody runs over us, it’s definitely a hate crime!”
How should you treat a church member on crutches, a female pastor, a black Council President, a gay parent of the youth group? Like a person! From there, ask them about themselves and listen. You’ll learn everything else you need to know.
Pastor of Spirit of Peace, Richmond Hill, GA
Chair, Diversity and Justice Taskforce
ALL TENNESSEE 2020 - November 14
For all youth in 6th through 12th grades
THIS EVENT WILL BE HELD IN A HYBRID FORMAT!!!
MORNING SESSION: on your own, in your household, or with your youth group (if you are gathering in-person, physically distanced, of course). Suggested start time is 10:00am EST / 9:00am CST.
AFTERNOON SESSION: we gather via ZOOM at 3:00-4:30pm EST / 2:00-3:30pm CST
CONCERT WITH RACHEL KURTZ: after our afternoon session, Rachel Kurtz will join in our ZOOM call to lead a concert!!!
So cool! So excited!
PLUS, we get to reveal the theme that SESLYO developed for our 2020-2021 youth events for the synod...Accept. Embrace. Spread Grace.
Cost? FREE, since this event is a hybrid event, with part in-person / part-online
Who Can Come? This gathering is for 6th-12th graders from congregations in the WHOLE SOUTHEASTERN SYNOD,
but especially for the Lutherans and friends of TENNESSEE. ALL are welcome.
This year, we are taking registrations on an INDIVIDUAL BASIS, NOT through a congregational registration.
To see information from prior years, scroll down...
ALL TENNESSEE 2019 - November 9-10
Check out the pictures from 2019 All TN HERE
All TN 2019 took place at Trinity LC, Tullahoma, TN
ALL TENNESSEE 2018
122 youth and adults met November 10 & 11 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hixson, Tennessee for All Tennessee. During the event youth from across Tennessee gathered to learn more about the "GODISNOWHERE" theme by participating in different activities throughout Saturday afternoon. Youth looked at where God was through an interactive Stations of the Cross activity, they also got to ask Pastor Ed Myers and Pastor Katherine Museus any question they wanted to ask, they learned about how we can be God's hands in the midst of disasters through the work of Lutheran Disaster Relief and put together hygiene kits for Lutheran World Relief. To finish out their service that day they moved mulch on to the church's playground. Worship started with a group of youth from Christ Kiswahili Lutheran Mission leading in song and during the confession participants were invited to take a piece of string to represent their confession and tie it on nails that formed "GODISNOWHERE" - a powerful way to see that God comes to us in the midst of our brokenness and as we communed together we saw God come once again in the body and blood of Christ. Special thanks to the volunteers of Trinity Lutheran Church for their hospitality and meals, as well as the ALL Tennessee planning team for their hard work putting it all together.