Download a Sample Convenant
Each congregational group attending the ELCA Youth Gathering is expected to discuss and create a covenant before arriving in New Orleans. Begin the conversation early in your planning process and keep the discussion open while, at the same time, working toward clarity about witness, behavior, expectations, responsibilities and safety. The process of creating covenants involves honest, caring discussions and building trust over time as a community — whether you are a group of 2 or 200.
Why do we covenant?
Working together to create a covenant is one of the more important tasks your group will undertake before leaving for New Orleans. A covenant is an agreement, promise or contract between people. Covenants describe behaviors of Christian witness, mutual expectations, relationships, responsibilities and safety concerns. Covenants establish guidelines and boundaries for living in Christian community in ways that contribute to everyone having a positive, safe and meaningful experience.
Negotiable and non-negotiable issues
As you work with your group to develop a covenant, remember some issues or agreements are negotiable and some may be non-negotiable from a congregation's perspective. Clearly state the non-negotiable issues up-front. Share these issues in a way that communicates their importance from a faith, safety, health or community well-being perspective.
Examples of non-negotiable issues may include:
ELCA Youth Gathering non-negotiable issues include:
- No use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs.
- No inappropriate sexual activity.
- Seat belts must be worn while traveling.
- The group gathers and checks in at set times each day (specify times).
- Anything that is required by congregational policy, Gathering policy, your insurance company or existing covenants.
Examples of negotiable items may include:
- No use of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs.
- No throwing items in the Superdome.
- No calling out state names in the Superdome.
- Obey the laws of the city of New Orleans.
- Ways to help and care for one another.
- Ideas for sharing your experience when you return.
- Appropriate clothing guidelines.
- Appropriate behaviors on the dance floor.
Don't forget to include identifying the positive things you can do to help each other get the most out of the Gathering experience. These may include:
- Meeting each day at a particular time to talk about your experiences.
- Setting aside time for daily prayer, prayer partners or the Final 15 devotions.
- Identifying specific ways to care for and affirm each other.
- Agreeing to fully participate, minimize complaining and remaining hydrated.
Make copies of your covenant(s).
When you’ve reached agreement as to the contents of your group’s covenant, print four copies for each participant — youth and adult — to read, sign and date. One copy is given to the participant’s parents/guardians to keep, one copy stays with the individual, and a copy is returned to the Primary Leader (this copy must be brought to New Orleans).
When a problem occurs:
All situations that require discipline or intervention are to be first addressed between the congregational group’s adult leader(s) and youth. The Community Life team in your hotel is available to assist if issues cannot be resolved within the congregational group. If further assistance is needed, Gathering staff will become involved directly with the congregational group and their home congregation (if necessary). In the most serious cases, a group or individual may be sent home, at their own expense.
It’s all for good!
Throughout the covenanting process, remember that it is for the benefit and well-being of the individuals and the community. It’s a way of working toward a positive, growth-filled, rich experience with everyone — youth and adults. Even when problems occur, community covenants will help guide everyone to move and respond in ways that reflect compassion, justice and concern for each other.