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The Youth Leadership Summit and Youth Core Leadership Team Programs (YCLT) have come to an end. We are grateful for the many young people and leaders who have been part of this formative program for the past ten years. New initiatives are being envisioned for how we might empower youth into leadership and advocacy within the church-wide expression.


The ELCA Youth Ministry page is your starting point for finding resources, individuals involved in youth ministry across the ELCA, as well as leadership development and faith formation programs and initiatives for youth. The ELCA defines this as ministry to those in 6th-12th grades (11-12 years old through 17-18 years old).

We are a church that believes God is calling us into the world together. ELCA Youth Ministry partners with the ELCA Youth Ministry Network, which exists to strengthen and empower adult children, youth and family ministry leaders in service to Christ. This group is dedicated to renewing, educating and connecting those who work in youth ministry (volunteer or paid), or with synod youth ministry leaders.

Together, our churchwide organization of youth ministry, in partnership with ELCA Youth Ministry Network, received a Lilly Foundation grant which welcomes the creation of The Formation Lab. This lab works to discover new models of ministry with God in the center of young people’s lives and living out vital faith practices.

Our Work

As a church that is energized by lively engagement in our faith and life, the ELCA offers a variety of opportunities for youth to grow in and explore their faith. One of the most powerful events, offered every third year, is the ELCA Youth Gathering, during which tens of thousands of high school youth and adults converge on a city to serve, worship and learn how to lead lives of discipleship. Also, don’t forget the amazing and diverse outdoor ministries of the ELCA! Youth Ministry works closely with ELCA Young Adult Ministry to walk with youth into transitional years of life.

Learn More

Check out the resource section with special messages, materials and tools for ministry including the lectionary-based Bible study series Faith Lens. You may also with to follow ELCA Youth Ministry on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see up-to-the-minute program updates, insights for youth ministry and new links to resources as they become available.

2023 Youth Core Leadership Team Bios

My name is Rebekah Bruesehoff. I’m a sophomore from New Jersey. I’m a pastor’s kid, so I’m at church a lot. I enjoy connecting with other youth and helping be a role model to those in the younger grades. Beyond my congregation, I enjoy working with my Synod youth ministry program and being involved at Cross Roads Camp. I also had the honor of speaking at the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2018! Outside of church life, I play field hockey, sing in three different acapella groups, and love musical theater. I’m also an active LGBTQ+ and human rights advocate. Being a part of YCLT is important to me because I want to help build a church where all people can be welcomed and celebrated in all their uniqueness and where we’re always working for justice and inclusion. I hope I can be a part of helping make that happen in even a small way by serving in this role.  

Rebekah Bruesehoff


Petra Limbong


What’s up y’all! My name is Petra Limbong. I am from Louisville, Kentucky and am currently a sophomore at Dupont Manual High School. I go to Christ Lutheran Church. My youth group there is the best! I also love doing service work, either through philanthropy or hands-on. Being part of the YCLT is important because it gives me a chance to meet so many bright people all around the country. God is so important to me because God has blessed me with countless gifts throughout my life.

Hello, my name is Andrew Marien. I’m a junior at Ascension Lutheran Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I’m a part of the youth group (CRASH) at my church and join other teens in my community in service work and devotions twice a month. YCLT is important to me because it allows me to connect with other teenagers from across the country to positively spread God’s message. God is very important to my life because God gives me strength in the good times and the hard times, and I believe that is what everybody needs in their lives.  

Andrew Marien


Asher Porter


My name is Asher Porter and I’m a high school senior from Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Christiansburg, VA (near Virginia Tech). I strive to nurture God’s creation, human or otherwise, in everything I do. I’m still working out exactly what I believe, but I know for sure that faith communities give people a place to feel loved, find encouragement, and be part of building a better world. The kind of conversations that help people realize their potential and turn it into a real impact seem to happen best among peers, and many local congregations don’t have a lot of people our age to connect with. As part of YCLT, I can help cultivate conversations and experiences that do just that by bringing not only technical skills (in singing, drama, A/V, etc.) but also my personal experience of difference (including ADD, speech problems, and family neurodiversity and mental illness) to help recognize and support the needs and potential of different groups. I can’t wait to help equip and inspire some of the most motivated, kind, and capable youth nationwide.

Hi, my name is Sianna! I am from Eden Prairie, Minnesota and I am in 10th grade! I am a part of the Minneapolis Area Synod and attend Swahili Service Church in Minneapolis. Our youth group love to show our love for God through singing and dancing, and our similar cultural origin makes us an even tighter knit community. I think it is important to be a part of ELCA because the program helps me navigate my relationship with God and through that I can not only become closer to Him and also teach others to become closer to Him. God is important in my life because he is my safety net and he embraced me for who I am.

Sianna Obel


Rebekah Richter


Hi! I’m Rebekah Richter and I am a sophomore. I live in Lewis Center, Ohio and go to All Shepherds Lutheran Church. A really important thing to me is the relationships I have with the people around me. My family –  parents, 2 brothers, 2 cats and our dog, my friends, and my volleyball team along with my youth group are all very important to me. One of the last trips that some of us took together was going to Atlanta in 2022. Since the youth gathering was canceled we decided we would go on a service trip to Atlanta. It was one of the moments that really strengthened my relationship with God and the members in my youth group. I went to the Summit last year and I felt very close with God. I made so many friends and when I left I felt like my relationship with God had deepened. I want to help others create those relationships that I did and experience the love of others. 

My name is Angeline Schaefer, I’m in 12th grade. I live in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and go to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. God is important to me because God is the reason I am able to be a leader in the church, in my Synod, in my WELCA, my community, National Technical Honor Society, Skills USA, and my school. God also gave me a wonderful life with my dad who is the pastor of my church and my mom who goes around our synod and does lay assisting for congregations without a pastor or if the pastor is on vacation. God also gave me a great brother who is going to college to be a music teacher and play french horn, piano and/or organ for churches. The reason I wanted to be a part of the YCLT was because I had such a fun time at the Summit in 2022. I wanted to give the experience to other kids that my YCLT of 2022 gave to me. You can get to know me a little bit before you come to the Summit. I do cosmetology, marching band, winter guard, stage crew, musicals, church choir and bell choir. I also do the videos for our live services and I’m a part of my school’s dance club and Aveidum.  

Angeline Schaefer


Jolie Schwartz


I’m Jolie Schwartz and I am very excited to be able to be a part of the YCLT. I am a part of Christ Lutheran Church in Brenham, Texas and I am a part of the Texas Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod. The reason I decided to apply is because I feel a strong call and connection from God through leadership in the church. God is one of the important people in my life because God is the main person I can rely on no matter what. God has helped me get through some of the toughest things in my life. Another thing about me is that I am a part of my school’s MCJROTC program. It has taught me many things about leadership and how to teach and help others in many ways I wouldn’t have thought about before.

My name is Amiel Trott and I am in Year 10 (which is 9th grade in U.S. standards). I am 15 years old and live in the Bermuda Islands where I attend the Peace Lutheran Church. I recently re-joined a youth group called Edge after few years of not being in a youth group and I don’t regret it. We have meaningful lessons and play really fun and intense games, which easily helped me break the ice with people who I had just met. I believe that being a part of the ELCA’s Youth Core Leadership Team is important because I get to spend more of my time with the Lord, as well as other people who want to do the same. I can also enhance my relationship with God. God is a really important part of my life because God is always there. I may not see God, but I know God’s always watching over me, reassuring me, loving me, and blessing me. I pray to return God’s love one day in the same amount even though it’s practically impossible. 

Amiel Trott


Jonah Vandervort


Hi, my name is Jonah! I’m from East Grand Forks, Minnesota, just two hours south of the Canadian border. I’m a senior in high school and attend Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, North Dakota. I enjoy being involved in my church by volunteering my time as a kindergarten Sunday school teacher, going on mission trips, and ushering worship. I find rest knowing God is with me through my highs and my lows and is doing what is best for my family, friends, neighbors, and myself. As a member of the YLCT 2023, I’m looking forward to uniting fellow youth from across the country to learn and grow through Christ and one another as much as I did at the 2022 Youth Leadership Summit!  

I’m Lulu Semakula, I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota and I go to Holy Trinity Swahili Church. I’m excited to have the opportunity to be apart of the YCLT again because it not only helped me grow as a leader but as a person as well. I met so many new people I now call my best friends, and I can’t wait to meet more people!

Lulu Semakula


Adult Leaders

Aaron Shoppa (he/him)

Program Director for ELCA Youth Ministry


Drew Tucker (he/him)

YCLT Mentor & Summit Theologian

Camille Trott (she/her)

YCLT Mentor & Summit Leadership Development


Jay Kiel (he/him)

YCLT Mentor & Summit Coordinator for Pastoral Care, Technology & Transportation

Tyra Dennis (she/her)

YCLT Mentor & Summit Theme Developer


Youth Core Leadership Team Position


The Youth Core Leadership Team is composed of high school youth from across the ELCA who have been identified as leaders in congregations and/or synods, and who desire the opportunity to dig more deeply into their own leadership and faith formation. Each year, youth are invited to this team. A youth who has served for one year may apply to serve for another year on the team.


The YCLT exists to provide leadership development opportunities for ELCA high school youth, that are equipped in skills like speaking, worship planning, small group training and peer ministry as they plan and lead the ELCA Youth Leadership Summit. They also serve as a focus group for ELCA Churchwide Ministries and are often interviewed and asked to serve on other committees and teams as the church strives to do ministry with youth more effectively.

Who Should Apply

Youth who apply should be engaged in their faith life and actively involved in a local congregation.

We seek applications from youth currently in 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. We value diversity across race and ethnicity, abilities, gender, and geographic locale.

What to Expect

Youth can expect to be challenged to develop leadership skills and explore faith formation through a series of events and online activities each year.

Youth selected to serve on the team are expected to take the learnings from in-person events and online trainings back to their home congregations and synods to engage others with what they have learned and to encourage participation in leadership for this church in its three expressions.

All expenses for these meetings are covered by the ELCA. Youth will likely fly alone to these meetings. Youth will also meet monthly on Zoom for leadership training and summit planning.

How to Apply

The applications are currently closed. Check back here in mid-November to apply to be a part of the 2024 Youth Core Leadership Team!


Email us at youth@elca.org or call us at 773-380-2451.