The Canadian Lutheran Anglican Youth (CLAY) gathering returns to Central Canada this year, and preparations to host the biennial ecumenical event in Thunder Bay are underway.
CLAY 2018 will take place at Lakehead University from Aug. 15-19, bringing together hundreds of young members of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.
While the structure is similar to past iterations of CLAY, featuring large group gatherings, shared worship, and live entertainment, this year’s event—which is based around the theme of Threads—differs in one significant aspect.
Rather than a keynote speaker, CLAY 2018 will feature a “storyweaver”, who is the Rev. Steve Greene. Currently assistant curate to the rector for South Huron Regional Ministries, Greene has led slam poetry ministry projects at previous CLAY events. In addition, the gathering will feature three storytellers, who speak to their experiences in ministry and embodying God’s call.
In his role as storyweaver, Greene will speak at large group gatherings, pulling together the narratives of each storyteller, weaving them throughout the tapestry of the CLAY context, and relating them with the Bible and how God’s word has impacted our lives and stories.
“Connecting those stories together … it’s my job to weave it all through, and to give them understanding that we’re all stories to be told—that God has created us to tell his story, which is critically important,” Greene said.
Looking at storytelling traditions from different cultures, Greene believes that there are five basic tenets of a good story: It must be understood, engaging, memorable, shareable, and dialogical.
“The goal for me is to use those five tenets and weave them into each person’s story, and then move it on to the people who will be listening—the youth and young adults, and how their stories are understood,” he said.
The 2016 CLAY gathering at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown saw an enthusiastic response, selling out all available spaces with a notable increase in attendance over previous years.
As a result, organizers have made sure that more spaces are available this year than in 2016, raising the total number to more than 1,100.
Sheilagh McGlynn, youth animator for the Anglican Church of Canada, said that while attending CLAY has long been “in the Lutheran DNA”, with successive generations of families attending, Anglicans are fairly new to CLAY.
“We’ve been doing this now for a number of times and our participation has increased every time, but we’re still a minority when it comes to the broad participation at CLAY,” McGlynn said.
“I hope that we can change that, because I think it’s such an amazing event for young people—not just young people, for communities. Youth leaders and their young people can come to this together and have this experience together.”
For the first time in the history of CLAY, participants will be able to register for the gathering online. Online registration for CLAY 2018 begins on Jan. 15.