By Abby Triebel, youth leader and Synod Council member
I took the plunge! The Plunge is an annual experience, sponsored by the Southwestern Minnesota Synod, for young adults from the ELCA to deepen spirituality through engagement with the global church. This year, I was lucky enough to be one of the 14 participants, traveling to Europe May 27-June 9.
During our four days in Geneva, Switzerland, we attended a worship service at the Cathedral of St. Peter (known as John Calvin’s church). The music was beautiful and we were awed by the architecture. Worship at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Geneva was one of the few truly cultural diverse worship experiences I’ve ever had. There were people present from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas, and we worshiped in as many languages.
We then spent an entire day at the Ecumenical Center in Geneva, which houses the offices of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). Meeting with LWF staff members taught us about the formation and history of LWF, its involvement with youth and young adult leadership, and current work. Our time together was fascinating. We saw how the WCC works to create and support unity in faith and fellowship among membership churches, which include 345 church bodies around the world. The saying I heard over and over again was, "We set the table for people to gather and be fed."
After our time in Geneva, we traveled to the Taizé community in France. This was the part of the trip that I was looking forward to the most. The Taizé community was founded in 1940 and is currently made up of about 80 brothers that have devoted themselves to community living from different ecumenical backgrounds. About 20 other brothers live around the world in other communities. In the 1960s, the community became known for their openness to young adult pilgrims and continues to welcome this population today.
The rhythm of life there did not disappoint. The community met for prayer and worship three times a day; chanting, praying, and reading scripture in different languages. Each day, we had a Bible study led by one of the brothers from the community. This time was filled with prayer, song, insight, and laughter. Small groups engaged in a sharing-based Bible study to go over the lesson from the brother. It was a unifying experience to sit down with 12 people from eight different countries to discuss our common faith. Towards the end of our week there, more and more people began to arrive, most of them under the age of 20. There was a lot more noise and activity to get used to, but worshipping in that way with 2,000 to 3,000 people was truly unique.
Thanks to my congregation, St. John’s in Poughkeepsie, who supported this experience by giving me time and scholarship money. Without either, this trip would not have been possible for me.
Learn more about the Global Plunge here.