“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

On January 5, 2018, around forty youth and youth leaders arrived at Village Creek Bible Camp outside Lansing, Iowa to spend the weekend considering the significance of being “Called Out” as described in 1 Peter 2:9. The gathering was the first of what is intended to be an annual winter youth retreat for churches in the southeastern portion of the CLB Central Region. The retreat included youth from congregations in Rochester, MN; Colfax, WI; Westby, WI; and Ottawa, IL.

The youth arrived on Friday evening and were immediately ushered into a fast-paced weekend of interaction and Bible study. Pastor Doug Rogness, West Campus Pastor for Triumph LBC in West Fargo, ND, was the main speaker for the weekend. He presented from 1 Peter 2 what it means to be “called out” as a believer in Christ: the identity that we are given through Christ, the obedience to God’s Word that flows out of identity in Christ, and the proclamation we make as we live in this identity. In addition to the main sessions with Pastor Rogness, there were four break-out sessions held on Saturday morning. Each session brought an opportunity for inspiration, challenge, and blessing as God’s Word was studied.

In addition to sharing around God’s Word, there was plenty of opportunity for other types of fun and fellowship. The weekend included a “Dad Joke” tournament among the youth leaders, won by the unflappable Pastor Mark Nienow. Saturday’s main activity was an Olympic Challenge in which teams competed in broomball, basketball, volleyball, and dodgeball. Late night snow-tubing wrapped up the outside activities on a busy Saturday for the campers.

The retreat concluded on Sunday, with the encouragement to live out the identity that we have received in Jesus Christ. Throughout the weekend, the youth were led in songs of praise and gospel proclamation by worship leader Christina Eltrevoog from Ottawa, IL. The youth returned to their churches refreshed and strengthened by the weekend of fellowship, learning, and worship. We thank the Lord for his blessing on this event and look forward to gathering again next winter!

Rev. Paul Tjelta serves as pastor of Bethesda Lutheran Brethren Church in Westby, Wisconsin.

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