Calling all young Anglicans and Lutherans! Registration is now open for the 2016 Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Running from August 17-21 at the University of Prince Edward Island, the event promises five days of fun, learning, worship, and spiritual growth.
Co-hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) and the Anglican Church of Canada, CLAY brings together hundreds of young Anglicans and Lutherans from across Canada to participate in ministry and outreach projects, and also features music, drama, and a keynote speaker.
Youth participants 14 to 19 years of age from across both churches are invited to attend—though 13-year-olds may attend with the endorsement of their home team leader and local congregation and with the support of the CLAY registrar.
The 2016 event, built around the theme “Not For Sale,” marks the fourth CLAY gathering overall, taking place in a region with a significant Anglican population.
“Atlantic Canada is a stronghold in the Anglican Church, so it’s the first time that we have had to kind of step up and take ownership and make things happen,” local arrangements coordinator and youth and family coordinator for the Anglican diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Allie Colp said.
“That’s really exciting, and it’s a really great sign that we are moving forward and doing ministry together with the ELCIC.”
The theme of CLAY 2016 reflects the theme chosen by The Lutheran World Federation for the upcoming commemoration of 500 years since the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, encompassing three sub-themes: Salvation—Not for Sale; Human Beings—Not For Sale; and Creation—Not For Sale.
Ministry projects and speakers at the event will explore the sub-themes in ways that resonate for both Lutherans and Anglicans, touching on issues such as the commodification of religion, the fight against human trafficking, and caring for the earth by moving towards a stewardship model of creation.
One of the biggest attractions at CLAY 2016 is its keynote speaker, Rev. Mark Ehlebracht, lead pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener, Ont. Recognized for his new media savvy, Ehlebracht is known for his engaging web videos, patterned after the “rants” of TV host Rick Mercer, that relate to the church and current events.
“He was a really dynamic speaker who we thought did a good job of hitting on all of the key messages in ‘Not For Sale’ in a way that would resonate with young people,” national planning committee communications coordinator Hannah Shirtliff said.
Ehlebracht’s keynote presentation, along with performances by a music and drama team, is a highlight of the large group gatherings that take place throughout the week.
Ministry projects at CLAY will also give participants the chance to learn about different topics of their choice, and a “servant event” allows them to express their ministry by helping out the local community.
For this year’s servant event, participants will be working with the PEI Food Security Network on a food exchange, spending an afternoon gleaning produce in farm fields that remains after mechanical pickers have passed through, before donating it to local and regional food programs.
“A lot of produce … stays in the fields and without the work of gleaners, it just gets turned over back into the ground,” said Judy Steers, the Anglican Church of Canada’s coordinator for youth initiatives and staff support person for CLAY, noting that the exchange ties directly into food security initiatives by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.
The week at CLAY can leave an indelible mark on participants, as Shirtliff, 21, recalled of her own experience as a young Lutheran.
“CLAY has incredibly influenced my faith journey,” she said. “I think if it wasn’t for CLAY, I wouldn’t be involved in the church still … Coming to CLAY and hearing messages about faith from maybe a slightly different perspective than you’re used to, being with lots of other young people your own age, I think is a really powerful and really wonderful experience.”
Registration for CLAY costs $350 at the earlybird rate, $375 at the regular rate and $400 if late. The earlybird deadline for registration is March 31, followed by the regular deadline on June 30 and final deadline July 31.
Youth who may be interested in future participation on the national planning committee are also invited to register for the Specialist Home Team, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at CLAY. The deadline for Specialist Home Team registration is March 25.
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