Jones West Named Director

Deacon Tammy Jones West is named ELCA Youth Gathering Interim Director.

February 21, 2022 |

The Rev. Aaron Lane

Dear NC Synod,

I recently talked to my son, Robert, and his dear wife, Maura, about my retirement. They were both super enthusiastic—“Do it, Mom!” My sisters came next. They were enthusiastic but started taking bets on how many days I’d last in retirement with nothing to do, plan, or organize. None of their numbers had a negative in front of them. I fuss at the Holy Spirit sometimes for things like how I’m failing at retirement before I even get started.

Some of you may have heard but as of February 7, I have begun serving our churchwide expression as Interim Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering through the 2024 Gathering. This wasn’t on the radar and, honestly, it’s a bit terrifying but here we are. I covet your prayers as we close down the 2022 Youth Gathering and gear up at a fast pace for 2024. The decision to cancel the Youth Gathering was, in my opinion, the right one but it is yet another missed opportunity to be together. It is heartbreaking that there will be youth who don’t have that experience. I am looking to 2024 with hope and expectation. We’ll be doing a review of what the experience looks like and how it might change—because we have all changed in the last two years that felt like ten.

On another front, our synod is moving ahead with the 2022 NC Synod Gathering; I will continue to manage that event for the synod. We anticipate rolling out the plan in early March but mark your calendars. Thursday through Saturday, June 2-4, we will gather at Lenoir-Rhyne University to worship, connect, and learn together. A few of you have asked if I thought we could do the synod gathering safely when I thought we should cancel the youth gathering. Honestly, I think it’s possible for the following reasons.
1. This is an adult event.
2. Adults provide their own transportation and if necessary, can leave campus to get their own food.
3. Housing is on your own with the possibility of staying at LR. Even without the LR housing, again, adults are not 5-6 to a room.
4. We will require vaccination (up to date per the CDC). Other protocols will be decided as we move closer to the event and may include masking, testing, and smaller workshop spaces.
5. Lenoir-Rhyne has safely held in-person classes and convocations—events very similar to our activities.
6. Participants don’t have to fly to get there and many can stay in their own homes.

I can’t wait to see you in person and hope you will make plans to attend with as many people as possible from your congregation. I fuss at the Holy Spirit sometimes for things like failing at retirement. I’m celebrating with the Holy Spirit that we’ll be together in June.

I’ll see you there!


Deacon Tammy Jones West


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