Breakout Sessions

More session information and a schedule will be added is it becomes available. There will also be sessions specifically for young adults, and sessions for youth leaders.

Youth Sessions

Being a teenager is exhausting. Balancing school, relationships, activities, family, and future is enough to overwhelm anyone. Engage with the candid wisdom of someone who’s been there—screw ups, headaches, and all—and wants to remind you that you can get through this, too.

Cassie Moore is an author, speaker, and Director of Next Generation Ministries at St. Mark Lutheran Church & School in Houston, Texas. She’s author of “Authentic Youth Ministry: Straight Talk about Working with Kids, Teens & In-Betweens,” contributor for “Connected for Life: Essential Guide to Youth Ministry,” and an upcoming women’s devotional, teenage devotional, and historical fiction series. She’s published over 80 articles on youth and culture, in addition to freelance curriculum writing. She grew up in Illinois & Minnesota, holds a degree from Concordia University in Irvine, California, has worked on national & district youth gatherings, and enjoys speaking nationally. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the Townsend Institute. She loves sushi, travel, & talking to strangers. She and her husband, Pastor Tyler, have two dogs. Connect with her at cassieahmoore.com or on social media at @DCECassie.

In this session, Pastor Peter Knelson will reflect upon the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how God was with them when they chose not to bow to a false god. We may not have the threat of being thrown into a fiery furnace, but we do experience pressure to bow to our own type of false god. That false god is sex. It is no doubt that sex has been a topic of interest since the beginning of time, but the creation of the digital world has moved the topic of sex from a private matter to a public matter for all the world to ingest. In fact, you may feel forced to take in or reveal sexual information about yourself in our world today. You may feel like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, forced to bow or be cancelled. This session will explore the pressures of sexuality in a digital age and encourage building an identity in Christ.

Pastor Peter Knelson grew up in Saskatchewan and graduated high school in Nipawin, where most of his family lives today. After high school, Peter studied at Concordia University of Edmonton and Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton. Peter was ordained and installed as a pastor in 2020. While in university, Peter met Laurel and the two were married in 2017 and eventually had their first child, Austin, in 2020. Peter enjoys dabbling in creative activities but especially loves to write and record music. You can find him on YouTube as “Lutheran Leavener.”

Join Pastor Peter Knelson for an exploration of the purpose of music to understand why music is such an important part of our lives. We will then narrow our focus to exploring the different musical genres. If you haven’t already, you may discover that the musical genre you listen to says a lot about who you are and what you have experienced in life. 

Pastor Peter Knelson grew up in Saskatchewan and graduated high school in Nipawin, where most of his family lives today. After high school, Peter studied at Concordia University of Edmonton and Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton. Peter was ordained and installed as a pastor in 2020. While in university, Peter met Laurel and the two were married in 2017 and eventually had their first child, Austin, in 2020. Peter enjoys dabbling in creative activities but especially loves to write and record music. You can find him on YouTube as “Lutheran Leavener.”

Does “day” in the first chapter of Genesis really mean a literal day? How do we reconcile that with modern science that says the earth is billions of years old? Who did Adam and Eve’s sons marry? If we’re all descended from Adam and Eve, where did the different “races” come from? Did Noah really get all the animals on the ark, even dinosaurs? What does Genesis teach us about climate change? If you have questions like these about the historical account in Genesis, I can help you find the answers! And I’ll show you online resources you can use later when someone asks a question you don’t know how to answer. (If you were at the 2019 NYG, the session will be similar, but will have some different information, too.)

Michelle Heumann is a youth leader at Foothills Lutheran Church in Calgary, the co-chair of the IMPACT Youth Gathering, and is a freelance editor with a MA in history. She majored in English and history in her undergrad, and while taking geology for her science option she encountered a particularly hostile professor who inspired her quest for knowledge about how to defend the history we find in Genesis. She loves to research just about anything, usually with a big mug of tea and some snacks, and a cat or two for company.

Scripture tells us we are not OF this world, but we are still IN it for a time. As Lutherans, we believe not only do we sin (in thought, word, and deed) but also that we were born into sinful flesh in a sinful world. The curse of sin impacts our thoughts, words, and deeds; our physical bodies and mental wellbeing; and even the earth and all of creation! As Lutherans, we also believe it is important to properly distinguish between Law and Gospel. How does our sinful nature react to the Law and to the Gospel? How does my mental illness react to the Law and to the Gospel? Are my depressive inclinations and impulses rooted in the curse of sin? Does having these depressive inclinations and impulses make me a bad Christian? Join Alex Steinke to explore the effects of God’s Truth (THE Truth) through Law and Gospel on our mental state—and how Lutheran Doctrine can be helpful in equipping us to better understand our own suffering, and the suffering of others, while here on earth. 

Alex Steinke serves as Lutheran Church–Canada’s Director of Communications, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Production with a minor in English. She studied at the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University, Canada’s premier school of media production and broadcasting. Alex’s self-described “misadventures in mental illness” led her to a colourful lineup of therapy over the years, including Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Narrative Therapy, Truth Therapy, and more. You might find her curled up with a good theology book, dancing to one-hit-wonders, or drinking instant espresso.

Through Pastor Eric’s work on the University of Calgary campus, he’s learnt it’s vital to allow for safe space for people to ask the burning questions, the hard ones that maybe we’re afraid to ask, the ones that we may feel embarrassment over, the ones we just have to get off our chest, or the things we are just dying to know. At “Let’s Talk About…” Pastor Eric opens up the floor to youth, iBods, and leaders to come and talk about those things. Let’s start the conversation. 

This year’s main speaker is Pastor Eric Moffett, Associate Pastor at Foothills Lutheran Church in Calgary, where he spends half of his time on the university campus interacting with students. He’s been involved with youth gatherings since he was a youth himself (no comment on how long it’s been since then), and is on two gathering planning committees. He enjoys playing board games with his lovely wife Kayla, teaching his twins, Wesley and Wren, about the toaster goblin and baseball, and has “terrible” taste in music. Originally from Kitchener, he’s a CREW Ministries alum, has a music degree from Concordia Edmonton, and was ordained and installed at Foothills in 2015. U of C campus outreach, youth ministry, and music are some of his greatest joys as part of his work there.

What does it look like to live as a Christian online? Is it any different from a non-Christian? Does it mean that I have to post a Bible verse everyday? Join Samantha Neeb to find out the answers to these questions and ask some of your own as we talk about what it means to be a Christian online.

Samantha Neeb has been serving as the Youth Director since September 2020 in two BC congregations: Trinity Lutheran Church, Richmond & Killarney Community Lutheran Church, Vancouver. She was born and raised on a farm in southwestern Ontario and has five sisters. If you need someone to get ice cream with, she will happily volunteer as tribute and this is her sixth time (in a row) attending the National Youth Gathering.

Words have immense power. God uses His Word to send His Holy Spirit into us. We use words all the time to talk and sing about God. How can you use the written word to talk to God, spend time in prayer, and grow in faith? If journaling or expressing yourself through writing interests you, or you’re interested in adding a spiritual dimension to your existing writing practice, join Pastor Scott Gamble and Michelle Heumann for a discussion of how they use prayer journaling in their own lives. They will also provide some resources, and a portion of the session will be set aside for you to do some writing of your own. Michelle and Pastor Scott are both English majors with vast reading and writing experience, and are looking forward to talking with you about how those gifts and interests can encourage your faith life. 

What are relationships supposed to look like as we live IN the world but not OF the world? There’s this old schoolyard rhyme that goes, “(Name) & (Name) sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” However, when it comes to relationships, the world we live in doesn’t always follow that order: dating, love, marriage, sex, children. And the world we live in doesn’t necessarily teach that order either. As we explore relationships, we will cover God’s plan and order for sex & dating as found in His Word; how they relate to our personal experiences; where God’s forgiveness fits in to all of it; and how we can have God-pleasing relationships while we live IN the world but not OF the world. The second session will split the ladies and the guys into separate groups to allow for a time for personal discussion and specific questions in connection with the first session.

Pastor Glenn Worcester is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He attended Concordia University in Ann Arbor; Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne; did his Vicarage at Immanuel Lutheran in Lethbridge; and served as a pastor in Michigan until coming to Peace Lutheran Church in Winnipeg in 2012.  Pastor Glenn was the main speaker at the 2019 “Worthless” NYG, and enjoys talking about Jesus, playing board games and sports, music, and spending time with his family. Pastor Glenn met his wife Andrea at the 2007 “I Am” NYG in Ottawa.  They have three lovely children: Micah (born on the first day of the 2016 NYG), Ivy, & Jonah.

Sharing the Gospel with people can be hard; doing it across languages and cultures can be even harder, and yet the Bible is filled with stories and accounts of people going outside of their comfort zone to share God’s love: Jonah and the Ninevites, Daniel in Babylon, and Peter and Paul to the Gentiles. Learn the truths, myths, joys, and challenges of cross-cultural ministry through stories from Rhonda Kelman, Executive Director of the BC Mission Boat. 

Rhonda Kelman is the Executive Director of the BC Mission Boat Society. She grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and now lives on Vancouver Island. She had a passion for missions since she was a teen and once she was in University, she got involved with missions. It has been over 19 years full of learning, growing in her faith, and going on adventures to share God’s love!

No, we’re not talking UFOs, but we Christians are definitely aliens. To the world around us, we’re outsiders, misfits, oddballs. We’re strange because we don’t fit in. We’re exiles who are sentenced to live as outsiders to the culture because we don’t believe and act like the rest of the world. So how do we deal with that? Come and talk about how to live as outsiders who are full of hope in a world that’s full of constant pressure to fit in.

Pastor Michael Schutz serves at Concordia Lutheran Church & School in Penticton, BC. He spends a lot of time learning, thinking, and teaching about how to be a Christian who understands the times and knows what to do about it. He doesn’t have it all figured out yet but shares what he can to encourage and equip people to be faithful Christians in a very un-Christian culture.

Gender identity and multiple ways to understand and express it have become a major issue in our current culture. We’ll take some time to define and discuss the terms represented by the letters LGBTQIA2S+. We’ll also take some time to think about how best to respond to these questions and concerns about gender based on our Christian faith as young people.

Michael Gillingham currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park, Alberta. In addition to his work with young people, Michael has had the opportunity to study religion at the graduate level at the University of Alberta. He loves his family, his church, music, movies, and books.  Go, Elks!!!

Have you ever wondered what a pastor does the other six days of the week? Have you heard the word deacon and wondered what that refers to? Does DPS sound like just another confusing Lutheran jumble of letters? If you answered yes to any of these questions OR are curious about a professional calling to ministry, then this session is for you! Dr. James Gimbel from the Edmonton seminary and Deacon Amanda Hastings are excited to chat with you about what working in a church is actually like!

Dr. James Gimbel is the president of Concordia Lutheran Seminary in Edmonton. 

Amanda Hastings is currently the coolest DPS serving a congregation in the Central Region…but she’s waiting for you to come and make it a real competition! Amanda lives in Regina with her husband, two kids and assorted geriatric pets and serves at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church as a deacon, or Director of Parish Services. Amanda loves Jesus, her family, the colour purple, and owls. Probably in that order. If you were to ask Amanda’s youth what the best thing about her is they would say everything. Not that she asked. She was too scared of how hard they would laugh at her.

Canada is increasingly becoming home to many diverse religious traditions. We’ll talk briefly about religion as a category before discussing Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. How might followers of these traditions understand Jesus and the message of the gospel? How might we better understand our neighbours of different religious traditions?

Michael Gillingham currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park, Alberta. In addition to his work with young people, Michael has had the opportunity to study religion at the graduate level at the University of Alberta. He loves his family, his church, music, movies, and books.  Go, Elks!!!

God chose young people to fulfill His mission. Many of them wondered “why me?”. Perhaps God is calling you. Whether at home or abroad you can be a missionary, too!

Lisa Jackson is the Managing Director of Lutheran Laymen’s League/Lutheran Hour Ministries Canada. She has a Masters in Leadership Studies from the University of Guelph and is currently working toward a Masters in Theology from Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary in St. Catherines. Lisa is also the Coordinator of Team Zion, a long-term LCC Mission team that returns to Nicaragua every year in service to the pastors and deaconesses of Nicaragua by helping with Vacation Bible School and various building projects. She has been married for 27 years to Andrew and has two adult sons.

Young Adult Sessions

How do you make your faith your own as you step out of the house and into the world? What does it mean to be a Christian as you try out different vocations? What role does Jesus play as you look for that special someone? What if doubts arise and suddenly believing what your Sunday School teacher taught you seems harder to do? Join Pastor Scot Brayall and his guests as they discuss what it looks like to grow up and mature in this world, and especially what it looks like to do all that with Jesus right at your side.

Pastor Scott lives in Grande Prairie, AB, where he gets to pastor at Faith Lutheran Church. Married to Becky, they can be found walking their dog, Frankie, making puzzles while listening to podcasts, or just enjoying music. Scott loves youth gatherings! From the things you discuss and learn about, to the people you meet, and all the fun you have, he’s glad you’ve come along for the ride!

Why didn’t anyone tell you that life was this hard? Navigating relationships and responsibilities while trying to carve out a career, understand who you are, and figure out where you want to go? It often feels lonely and confusing. Discover practical advice for dealing with these messy in-between years of young adulthood, along with encouragement and truth from someone who’s lived it herself.

Cassie Moore is an author, speaker, and Director of Next Generation Ministries at St. Mark Lutheran Church & School in Houston, Texas. She’s author of “Authentic Youth Ministry: Straight Talk about Working with Kids, Teens & In-Betweens,” contributor for “Connected for Life: Essential Guide to Youth Ministry,” and an upcoming women’s devotional, teenage devotional, and historical fiction series. She’s published over 80 articles on youth and culture, in addition to freelance curriculum writing. She grew up in Illinois & Minnesota, holds a degree from Concordia University in Irvine, California, has worked on national & district youth gatherings, and enjoys speaking nationally. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the Townsend Institute. She loves sushi, travel, & talking to strangers. She and her husband, Pastor Tyler, have two dogs. Connect with her at cassieahmoore.com or on social media at @DCECassie.

This session is centered around different experiences in dating and relationships. Three panelists, Rhonda Kelman, and Josh and Erika Gajdos, will share their experiences, inviting others to ask questions, share their experiences and look for support. We invite all young adults to participate and will be discussing all parts of dating, the good, the bad and God’s plan for us.

Josh and Erika have been married now for almost 5 years, and are on the National Youth Gathering committee, the East District Lutheran Young Adults board, and a few other boards. Josh and Erika are happy to share their experiences of Lutheran dating, weddings, and early marriage. Erika and Josh are both working full time and are still trying to manage new family dynamics as well as a busy schedule. Half of their marriage has been in the COVID years, so it has been quite the adjustment. They are excited to meet you and chat.

Rhonda Kelman is the Executive Director of the BC Mission Boat Society. She grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and now lives on Vancouver Island. She had a passion for missions since she was a teen and once she was in University, she got involved with missions. It has been over 19 years full of learning, growing in her faith, and going on adventures to share God’s love!

Leader Sessions

Did you know Lutheran Church-Canada recently joined with Plan to Protect to help ensure our most vulnerable members are safe in the programs we offer? Come and hear about the new synodical abuse prevention policy and procedure manual, and leaders from Walnut Grove Lutheran Church will also share some of the things they are doing to keep youth and leaders safe. 

Rhonda Kelman is the Executive Director of the BC Mission Boat and a youth leader at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church. 

Deacon Lisa Olding has been a K-12 teacher, youth leader, Confirmation teacher, and coach. She is currently teaching at Trinity Western University in the School of Education. Unlike most people, Lisa gets excited when asked to read and write policy. She was involved in helping create the most recent Abuse Prevention Policy for Walnut Grove Lutheran Church in 2021.

As youth leaders, we represent God and the church to many young people. When they or their friends are struggling with gender identity, we want to be able to respond with love and integrity. We’ll be discussing the basic terms in the gender identity conversation and following this up with a framework for responding biblically and confessionally to these concerns among our youth, their families, and their friends.

Michael Gillingham currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Bethel Lutheran Church in Sherwood Park, Alberta. In addition to his work with young people, Michael has had the opportunity to study religion at the graduate level at the University of Alberta. He loves his family, his church, music, movies, and books.  Go, Elks!!!

Today’s teens are dealing with more complex issues than ever before—which means the adults in their lives are grappling with serious topics, too. Learn alongside other leaders as we get real about where young people are struggling and how we can understand & reach them to build for a healthier future.

Cassie Moore is an author, speaker, and Director of Next Generation Ministries at St. Mark Lutheran Church & School in Houston, Texas. She’s author of “Authentic Youth Ministry: Straight Talk about Working with Kids, Teens & In-Betweens,” contributor for “Connected for Life: Essential Guide to Youth Ministry,” and an upcoming women’s devotional, teenage devotional, and historical fiction series. She’s published over 80 articles on youth and culture, in addition to freelance curriculum writing. She grew up in Illinois & Minnesota, holds a degree from Concordia University in Irvine, California, has worked on national & district youth gatherings, and enjoys speaking nationally. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership from the Townsend Institute. She loves sushi, travel, & talking to strangers. She and her husband, Pastor Tyler, have two dogs. Connect with her at cassieahmoore.com or on social media at @DCECassie.