One of the unique aspects of the LCMS Youth Gathering is that it used both the Minneapolis Convention Center and U.S. Bank Stadium, putting it on a very short list of events requiring both facilities. In addition, the LCMS event was the first non-sports event confirmed by our Meet Minneapolis sales team for U.S. Bank Stadium, in 2014, during its construction.
Our region has become accustomed to hosting major, high-profile events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Men’s Final Four and X Games. But it’s important to remember that the overwhelming majority of events we host are not as high profile. The LCMS Youth Gathering may not be a household name, but it size compares favorably with other major events we have hosted as noted in the chart below.
|Group||Hotels in Room Block||Total Rooms|
|NFL Super Bowl||142||71,585|
|NCAA Men's Final Four||42||53,198|
|LCMS Youth Gathering||69||50,260|
First Time in Minnesota
Considering the hundreds of LCMS churches in Minnesota, it is surprising that the Youth Gathering has never been held here. Rev. Mark Kiessling – Director, Office of Mission-Youth, LCMS Youth Gathering and Derek Broten – Associate Director, LCMS Youth Gathering are two of the prime architects of the event. They noted that the Minneapolis region is as far north as the Gathering has ever been held. One of the Minneapolis attributes their attendees appeared to enjoy was our milder temperatures compared to past host cities such as Atlanta, New Orleans, Orlando, and San Antonio.
Quietly Making an Impact
As noted above, the LCMS attendees occupied rooms in 69 hotels. They also boosted Metro Transit ridership significantly. The youth and adults clad in their colorful t-shirts made their presence known in retail establishments, restaurants and our Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center.
LCMS falls into the general group business category known in our industry as SMERF, which stands for social, military, educational, religious and fraternal. Many of the groups in the SMERF category meet during the summer and holidays, which are slower group business periods for our hotels. This makes SMERF events, and ones the size of LCMS’s Youth Gathering, very sought-after business for our city and region.
In addition to the significant economic impact, the true legacy of this group is the more than 70 community service projects they conducted during their time here. Broten reported the following impressive results:
- 6,000 Gathering attendees participated in a variety of service initiatives Over a million meals packed for Feed My Starving
- Children 1,000 inches of hair donated to Wigs for Kids
- 1,000 kits assembled for homeless children
- 574 letters sent to military veterans
- 463 units of blood donated
I am envious of the future cities that are slated to host the LCMS Youth Gathering, because of the many ways this group impacts the community. Fortunately, we are already in discussions for the next opportunity to host this event.
In the meantime, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which is the “cousin” group to LCMS, is confirmed to bring its own Youth Gathering to our region in July 2021. ELCA has approximately 10,000 congregations worldwide. This will be another opportunity for our community to quietly benefit from the work of our leaders of tomorrow.