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

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.
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 helps us transport thousands of young people to and from service projects, and other gathering programming. For more information, please contact that Gathering at
Yes! There is an abundance of parking – about 26,000 spaces – surrounding our three NRG venues. Parking is free for buses with congregation names printed on the vehicle. Parking for all other vehicles will be $10 a day, however, so budget accordingly if you plan to drive.
Both airports offer Super Shuttle type services as well as taxi and app-based ride services, like Uber and Lyft. TMS will also be offering shuttling from the airport to hotels for $20 per person. Registration for this service will be available in the fall.
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.