Lutheran Youth Organiztion

Youth Leadership Development Program

The Lutheran Youth Organization, or LYO, is the high school youth leadership program for the Delaware-Maryland and Metro D.C. Synods.

Youth are organized into one of six teams to live into their God-given gifts and sharpen their skills for service in our synods, their own congregations, and the surrounding community. Each team is mentored by two to three gifted adults, and led by Leaders Among Leaders, who are selected by each team at the beginning of each year.

The calendar linked below is for the current year and will be updated as soon as we are able. Please use this calendar to understand what the year will look like.

About the LYO

The Lutheran Youth Organization is a leadership development program for youth in grades 9-12 who are members of congregations in the Delaware-Maryland and Metro D.C. Synods. Following an application process, youth who are accepted into the LYO are organized into one of six teams to live into their God-given gifts and sharpen their skills for service in our synod, their own congregation, and the surrounding community. Each team is mentored by two to three gifted adults.

The LYO year begins with the Organizing Retreat, held at Mar-Lu-Ridge in mid-August. During this long weekend, members of the LYO receive training on a variety of topics that will serve them throughout the year, including active listening, peer ministry, leading devotions, and topics related to our annual theme. They also engage in service projects, play games, and worship together. The weekend provides them their first opportunity to gather with their whole team and imagine ways they might use their gifts to serve the young people of our synods. Before the end of the retreat, each team selects a Leader Among Leaders or two - peers who will help keep the team organized and working toward their goals, as well as serve as the liaison to the Youth Events Team, which has responsibility for general oversight of our events.

Every other month (September, November, January, March, and May), the LYO gathers for an All-Team Meeting on a Saturday, often meeting at centrally-located churches. These meetings provide an opportunity for training on a particular leadership topic (frequently, those suggested by the Leaders Among Leaders), a chance for teams to meet together in person, and fellowship time to continue strengthening relationships within the LYO. Usually, teams will meet together in person or by Zoom in the months when an All-Team Meeting is not taking place.

One of the primary ways our LYO members put their leadership development into action is through assisting in the planning and execution of several large Youth+Family Ministry events throughout the year.

Each LYO member also selects a Congregational Mentor who serves in an area that relates to the youth’s team. This adult leader helps the LYO member reflect on what they are learning in LYO and how they can use those skills to lead in the congregation. The Congregational Mentor serves as an advocate for their student, and finds ways to lift up their work within the life of the congregation.

There is no membership fee to be a part of the LYO. The only costs are for events, which our Youth + Family Ministry budget partially subsidizes for LYO members. In the 2021-2022 year, these registration fees for LYO members totaled just under $500. One additional cost to consider is transportation to and from meetings and events, though students are often able to carpool with those who live nearby. Money should never be a reason you cannot participate in LYO. We have event scholarships available specifically for LYO members, and we will provide whatever support we can if finances become an issue.

The 2023-24 LYO Application Process is Open!

The Lutheran Youth Organization application process for the 2023-24 school year is now open! The application deadline is June 18, 2023. Please use this form to apply. (If you are already in LYO, the recommitment form is also up and is due June 1st.)

The full process consists of:

Applicants should expect a follow up phone call during the week of July 10th.

The LYO is a year-round high school leadership program of the Metro D.C. and Delaware-Maryland Synods of the ELCA. Dozens of high school leaders from around the region work throughout the year to build community, develop skills, plan events and programs, and implement those events alongside elementary, middle, and high school students. They are strengthened for their leadership in the church and in the world, in their congregations, and in their communities. 

Applicants will be invited to participate in Sorting Day (via Zoom, on the afternoon of July 23, 2023 from 2-4PM), where we have conversations with all of the new LYOers and our team mentors.

The LYO meets once a month during the school year for training, community-building, serving, and planning. We gather for our LYO Organizing Retreat each August. And we help to lead weekend youth events for the two synods each year.

Questions? Looking for help? Reach out to LYO co-coordinators Christine Myers Park ( and Mark Parker ( 

Teams of the LYO