Eight Immanuel youth and seven chaperones attended the annual Higher Things conference on July 16-19 at Concordia University Wisconsin. This year’s theme was “Concordia,” and was about unity in the Church.
Each day included the Daily Prayer offices (Matins, Vespers, and Compline), and the conference began and ended with Divine Service. The services were held in the beautiful Chapel of Christ Triumphant. (Pictured in the Chapel: front row: Kathy Todd, Hannah Wineinger, Levi Altvater, Elizabeth Monday, Juniper Stephens, Kelly Bays; second row: Erin Wineinger, Maddy Tate, Pearson Tate, Noah Sutton, Sydney Bays, Jodi Tate; back row: Pastor Sutton, Kantor Schultz, Vicar Cornwell)
This was my second year attending Higher Things and I enjoyed seeing the youth “Dare to be Lutheran” by participating in hymns and liturgy that are part of our Lutheran heritage, and seeing the kids learn about the Scriptures, the Church, and current events from a Lutheran perspective, taught by a variety of pastors. It was also fun for me to be back at my alma mater.
Kathy Todd remarked about the beautiful campus and its setting on Lake Michigan, and the enjoyable experience of singing hymns with the whole group. Each day, we had the opportunity to choose from a number of smaller “breakout sessions” on a number of topics. Juniper Stephens enjoyed “Phenomenal Cosmic Power, Itty-Bitty Living Space” by Pastor Brett Simek. Pastor Simek presented on the divinity of Jesus described in Revelation and how He is delivered to us in His “itty-bitty living space,” the bread and the cup. Juniper also enjoyed the escape room and petting zoo activities.
Juniper and Hannah Wineinger both enjoyed the “house competitions.” During the conference, the participants were arranged into four groups based on the “tetramorphs” (Greek: “four shapes”), the four angelic beings depicted in Ezekiel. The groups were “Vir” or “Man” (Gospel of St. Matthew); “Leo” or “Lion” (St. Mark); “Bos” or “Ox” (St. Luke); and “Aquila” or “Eagle” (St. John). Immanuel was part of the Aquila group, and Aquila had the most points to win the challenge. Various activities and competitions throughout the week earned each group points toward the final score. Our Immanuel youth notably won the campus scavenger hunt, perhaps due to the help of a CUW alumnus on our team. Each evening, there were recreational activities to enjoy. Pearson Tate fondly remembers falling down the warp wall on his attempt to climb it.
Erin Wineinger said, “I loved the whole experience! I love that the kids are meeting other Lutheran kids and pastors. I was really impressed with the organization of the whole conference and I was really proud of our kids! I especially loved spending so much time in the chapel singing the liturgy!” Hannah enjoyed participating in the conference choir.
Each day, the group heard plenary sessions by Rev. Jacob Ehrhard, pastor of St. John’s—Chicago and Rev. Brian Mosemann, professor at CUW. Noah Sutton describes how one plenary session tied the conference together:
“The thing that I enjoyed most about the conference was our unity in the Lutheran Church. The last plenary talked about when the congregation sings together, your heart beats at the same rate and time as everybody else’s. We went to every service in unity and worshipped the same one, true God, including people from three different countries. The theme was ‘Concordia.’ I think it showed how unified and how much harmony (the meaning of ‘Concordia’ in Latin) we had as a church both musically, devotionally and our theological thoughts at this conference. The biggest thing I love about this conference is there are kids like me! You are not going to find any Lutheran pastor’s sons around Terre Haute, so I find it so cool to find people that have the same ideas and thoughts as I do at this conference and we can worship in ‘Concordia’ to our great and mighty God.”
Thank you to the members of Immanuel for supporting our YPI events throughout the year, which helps defray the costs of our youth and chaperones attending the conference. We hope other confirmed youth from our parish will be able to join us next year. Next year’s conference theme will be “Watermarked.” Out of four locations, we are planning to attend at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), which will be July 14-17, 2020.