Church group enriches peer, faith relationships


A wall in the youth group meeting room displays photos, inspirational quotes.

Written by Jenna Marvet

The Grace Lutheran Church Youth Group has made their meeting room their own: one wall is covered with chalk paint and photos from their service trips, and another is covered with Sharpied prayers for anything from good grades on tests, to healing the U.S. Comfy couches fill the room next to piles of costumes from a haunted house put on for the community in October. On tables around the room, candles have been lit to pray for someone in need.

The group meets every Wednesday for students in ninth through 12th grade at Grace Lutheran Church in Palo Alto. When planning weekly youth group meetings, Director of Children, Youth and Family Minister Elizabeth Hood tries to figure out exactly what the members need on that particular day. “High schoolers really need a place to let off steam and destress from the day, so sometimes we end up just talking and laughing with each other,” Hood said. “Last week, though, I felt that they needed a time to reflect on the state of the country with interactive prayer.”

In addition to their weekly meetings, the group travels across the U.S. to participate in events with the greater Lutheran church. Two summers ago, they went to Detroit, MI for a Lutheran youth gathering, and last summer, they attended a camp in Montana. On all of their trips, community service and faith-building are important factors.

Senior Inger Smuts is an active member of the youth group and a youth leader in the local Lutheran community. “Our church is unique in that we give youth a lot of opportunities,” Smuts said. “Being involved in my church at a young age has allowed me to be more interested and connected to my faith.”

The Grace Lutheran Church Youth Group welcomes all high school students to its meetings and requires no membership. “If you are longing for a relationship with your peers and to dig deeper into your faith, this is a great place for you, and you will be welcomed,” Hood said.