Frequently Asked Questions

This section contains a wealth of information related to the ELCA Youth Gathering. If you cannot find an answer to your question, make sure to contact gathering@elca.org.

A lot of research, discussion, and prayer! The process begins about 6 years before the actual Gathering. Factors that guide the decision include ample programming and convention center space, proximity of programmings to a convention center, an arena for the mass gatherings, public transportation, a major airport, the ability to work with city officials, and the availability of specific summer dates.
Houston is a great host city and has excellent venues for all of our Gathering program needs. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the United States and has a rich history we can learn from by being there.
The Gathering works with city officials on determining the best and most available dates within a range. This cycle those dates, as in other years, fell in late June-early July. Also, Houston is hot in the summer, and choosing earlier dates helps us avoid the full heat.
Youth who are in 8th - 12th grade at the time of registration are eligible to attend. Adult leaders must be 21 at the time of the Gathering. The recommended ratio is one adult for every seven youth.
Early bird registration, September 15 - November 15, 2017, $350
Regular registration, November 16, 2017 - February 15, 2018, $390
Late registration, February 16 - May 15, 2018, $440
A $150 non-refundable, per person deposit is due at the time of registration and must be postmarked within the rate range you expect to pay.
There are four onsite volunteer opportunities: Gathering Volunteer Corps, Servant Companions, Community Life and Local Volunteers. Please see the “Volunteer opportunities” page under the registration tab for more information.
No. Adult leaders are asked to not bring their infants, toddlers or young children to the Gathering. Gathering venues and programs are for registered participants only and others will not be admitted. The Gathering, MYLE and the tAble are created as a faith formation events for youth in grades 8-12 and their adult leaders. Adult leaders need to hold the high school youth they bring to the Gathering as their top priority for these events.
Most hospitals ask for the insurance holder’s SSN when a patient is admitted to the emergency room. The Gathering does not collect medical release forms, but primary leaders must be able provide a copy for any participant registered with their congregation if requested by Gathering volunteers, staff, or medical professionals. The SSN section is not required to participate in Gathering programming, but all other areas of the medical release form must be completed.
Registration will be live and online starting Sept. 15, 2017. Groups register as congregations, with one adult leader serving as primary adult leader. The primary adult leader is the organizer for the group, receiving communications from the Gathering about housing, payments, and any other information for the group.
Each congregation in the ELCA has a unique five-digit ID number that must be used to register for the Gathering. To obtain your congregation’s ID, check the printed ELCA Yearbook, ask your pastor or other church staff, or contact the Gathering office.
Yes! Limited funds are available to offset the registration fees. For more information, please see our financial assistance page.
We strongly encourage congregations to register under their own individual ID. We understand this is sometime unavoidable, but this is important for a number of reasons, primarily regarding financial payments and tracking. Groups can still travel together, and if both groups are from the same synod, the program rotation schedule will be the same.
No. The Gathering will provide lunch on the day of Service Learning, but other than that, each congregation is responsible for providing its own meals. There are a number of great options and varied price points available around the hotels and NRG Park. Housing will be assigned through the Gathering, but each congregation is responsible for completing payments and reservations on their own.
Houston has an amazing variety of hotels throughout the city that the Gathering is contracting with, and they are excited to welcome everyone! Hotel rates will average $150 (plus approximately 11 percent tax) per room, per night, so you can work with that price as you budget. Expect to have some king rooms (up to two people) mixed in with your room assignments as we share the four-person rooms with all congregations.
The Gathering assigns each congregation to a hotel during the late winter/early spring of the Gathering year, which is shared via online congregational registration accounts. This hotel assignment will include: 1) a hotel name, address and contact info, 2) a room assignment worksheet with the number of rooms you’ve been assigned and a bed configuration for those rooms, and 3) instructions for following through on your room reservation (how to pay your deposit and reserve these hotel rooms, how to release the hotel rooms that you may no longer need, and a timeline for when you can contact the hotel directly to ask additional questions about your stay during the Gathering).
No. To participate in the ELCA Youth Gathering, all registered participants are required to stay in the hotel their congregation is assigned.
Adult registration is the same as youth registration.
For information on tax exemptions in Texas, we recommend visiting the Texas Comptroller website. For any other questions or concerns, congregations must seek their own legal counsel.
If your driver is participating as a paid Gathering attendee, simply include them in your rooming list on the hotel reservation form. If not, you need to make separate arrangements for your driver.
The Gathering works to honor the safety policies established by individual congregations. Generally, the Gathering practice is to not house adults and youth together unless there are more youth than adults, and that youth and adults don’t share beds. For example, a single male adult could be in room with two beds (double/double) with two other male youth. The youth would share a bed and the adult would have his own bed.
If the room is a three-person room (king bed and pullout or rollaway), the youth would share the king and the adult would have the pullout.
Great question! Since the majority of congregations from each synod are housed in the same hotel, this is an opportunity for the GSCs to refer congregations to each other. Congregations will know the number of rooms and room types they have on March 15, so there are a couple of months for single leaders to connect before reservation forms and deposits are due to hotels by May 15.
If you require additional rooms or need to release rooms, please email gathering@elca.org with your congregational ID and specific request. Hotels are not authorized to make changes to a congregation’s assigned number or type of rooms—only the Gathering office can make those adjustments. Hotels have been told to honor the rooms and room types we’ve assigned to congregations. We will do what we can to accommodate groups.
We can’t honor adult requests for single rooms. Adults (same gender) and youth (same gender) are expected to share beds.
If participants are added, and the additions change the number of rooms needed to accommodate your group, there is a chance that the Gathering may need to move your group to another hotel. We are doing our best to keep synods together, but those who register after this process has been completed may be affected. We have the rooms, but it may be in a different hotel than the rest of your synod. The Gathering will never separate a congregation group into multiple properties.
Hotel assignments have been posted in congregational accounts. We have not sent this information out, but have announced it on Gathering social media.
On March 15, congregations will be able to print out their hotel reservation form, showing the assigned room types, to send to hotels with deposit payments.
The Gathering reserves the right to make appropriate housing changes as congregations continue to register. The housing assignment in your hotel reservation form, available on March 15, will be final.
Yes. We’ve contracted with hotels to provide rooms before and after our event, at the Gathering rate, based on availability. There is space for you to write your check-in and check-out dates on your hotel reservation form– make sure you do this.
The Mass Gathering team spends nearly two years scouting potential speakers and musicians. Through careful planning and discernment, the team works to create a well-rounded line up that will inspire and challenge our young people to live out their faith. This process takes time, however, and the final lineup is typically solidified and announced in the few months leading up to the Gathering. Check back often for updates and stay tuned to social media!
If your organization aligns well with the mission of the Gathering (faith formation in teenagers) and the ELCA, and is interested in creating an interactive learning opportunity for our young people, please email the Gathering office.
At this point, we're still finalizing details. To help with this process, we ask that if you are bringing a bus to the Gathering that you would please consider subletting your bus to us. Our partnerships with attendees help us transport thousands of young people to and from service projects, and other gathering programming. For more information, please contact that Gathering at gathering@elca.org.
Yes! There is an abundance of parking – about 26,000 spaces – surrounding our three NRG venues. All parking at NRG will be free.
Both airports offer Super Shuttle type services as well as taxies and app-based ride services, like Uber and Lyft. TMS will also be offering to shuttle from the airport to hotels for $20 per person one way. See our transportation page to sign up for this opportunity.
No, it does not matter which airport you use. George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) and William Hobby Airport (HOU) will both work.
Gathering transportation begins once you have arrived at your hotel property. If you need transportation from the airport to your property, you can use any shuttle service available at the airports. TMS has a service available for certain arrival and departure times.
Gathering transportation begins once you have arrived at your hotel property. If you need transportation from the airport to your property, you can use any shuttle service available at the airports. TMS has a service available for certain arrival and departure times.
No. The cost for the shuttle is $20 per person one way. All transportation to Gathering program is covered at no additional cost if you opted in for Gathering transportation.
If your group lands during the service hours of TMS, I would recommend them based on their fixed cost of $20/person no matter what hotel property you are staying at. Super Shuttle is a fine choice as well, their prices are based on distance from the airport to the hotel.
The rates to use the TMS shuttles are $20 per person, one way.
We have no specific properties to recommend. However, a tip of advice is to call the hotel to confirm there is ample parking for the bus.
If you are coming to Houston on a chartered bus, and need to make hotel arrangements for your bus driver, we have some suggestions. We do not want bus drivers to take up space within our contracted room blocks in hotels, but if you’re willing to pay a higher price you may be able to get a room in your assigned hotel. You would need to make these arrangements on your own AFTER you have sent your rooming list and deposit to the hotel. Here are suggested hotels:
NRG Area
Extended Stay America
1303 LaConcha, Houston, TX 77054
(713) 790-9753
Scottish Inns and Suites
8510 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77054
(713) 795-9100

Galleria Area
Best Western Galleria Inn & Suites
6229 Richmond Ave, Houston TX 77057
713-783-8388

Days Inn Houston Galleria
3333 Fountain View Dr, Houston TX 77057
713-532-8649

Downtown and Greenway Plaza
America’s Best Value
2536 Northwest Freeway, Houston TX 77009
713-692-2300

Extended Stay America Hotel Houston
2330 Northwest Freeway, Houston TX 77009
713-521-0060
MYLE and the tAble are part of the overall Gathering program. If your group didn’t stay for the whole Gathering, it would be like walking out halfway through the movie! If you are considering only attending MYLE or the tAble, please contact the Gathering office.
Yes and no. A congregational group can attend MYLE if at least 50% of the group is people of color or those whose first language is other than English. If that is not the case, individuals are encourage to attend with an adult leader. The tAble is intended for individuals and their caregivers.
No. The registration fees for the tAble and MYLE are heavily subsidized. Congregations that attend either event are, however, welcome to apply for financial assistance to help offset the cost of Gathering registration.
Yes. Caretakes will need to register for the tAble for $190. They will not be charged any further registration fees to attend the Gathering following the tAble.
Check out more information on the theme for the tAble here. and for MYLE here.
No. For the Gathering we are housing by synod and MYLE participants will moved to their synod hotel on Wednesday afternoon following MYLE. This transportation is paid for by the Gathering for those who do not have their own vehicles.