IYC highlights in the works

Your personal IYC highlight could be a chance encounter, a moment from the divine service, or the sensation of being together with 30,000 other like-minded individuals. One project group has been working hard so that the big events at the International Youth Convention 2019 (IYC) contribute to this experience.

All of the major events will take place in the Arena, where everyone will come together and celebrate together. That is why they are particularly important and the reason why the responsible project group is devoting special attention to them.

Apostle Jeannot Leibfried from France, Bishop Peter Jeram from Austria, Bishop (ret.) Georg Kaltschmitt from Southern Germany, Evangelist Jens Lange from Berlin-Brandenburg, District Evangelist Reinhold Wegner, District Evangelist (ret.) Uwe Grünberg, Ben-Jamin Otten, and the group leader, Priest David Otten from Western Germany together make up the Project Group Arena. Each of them has taken charge of one of the events. They have been meeting regularly to coordinate their activities, to answer pending questions, and clear up any problems.

The ideas, whose implementation has kept them busy, have mainly come from the youth. The project group communicates regularly with the young sisters and brothers.

The central theme

Each of the big events is to be defined by the motto “Here I am”. It is the central theme of the International Youth Convention 2019 and ties everything together. Among other things, youth who cannot be in Düsseldorf due to travel restrictions or financial limitations can nevertheless be present at the IYC through digital media. David Otten says, “In order to involve young people from across the world in the IYC, we are planning activities for the opening event on Friday morning in which everyone will be connected. What our plans are exactly is a surprise, but every youth is to feel: ‘I am here, I am part of it.’”

The pop oratorio, which has been performed before, will be performed again on Friday evening, 31 May. David Otten says, “In the pop oratorio Jesus calls to the youth, ‘Here I am’. It is a promise of Jesus, and in the programme on Saturday evening it will be the youth who respond with, ‘Here I am. There is something I can do; I can take on responsibility in my congregation and in my faith. And at the closing event people will say, ‘I was here. I came here with all my emotions, and now I will return home a changed person and take everything that I have experienced with me.”

The three emotions

Ben-Jamin and David Otten, the organisers of the opening and closing ceremonies on Friday and Sunday respectively (Sunday after the divine service), have developed their ideas together with the youth from England, South Africa, and from across Germany. Some of their ideas are still secret. What is certain is that the Chief Apostle will open the Youth Convention and that the IYC song will be heard for the first time, and in several different musical styles. There will also be dancers and actors who will interpret the emotions of joy, sadness, and uncertainty—feelings the youth will be bringing with them to the youth convention.

David Otten explains: “These emotions will be taken up again in the closing ceremony. They provide a framework for the IYC. At the end it will be clear: something has happened to me over the past couple of days. I have met God at the altar and my emotions have changed. Maybe the youth convention has changed something in me and will have an effect for years to come.”

The five continents

“#HereThereEverywhere – Jesus, the light in us” is the title of the Saturday night event. The group around Evangelist Lange and Bishop Kaltschmitt have put their focus on the five continents and the theme of light as the main elements of the event. On a virtual trip around the world in video clips, the audience will discover the continents.

These clips were shot in advance by young people from all over the world. In each clip they address an appeal to the IYC participants, which is thematically linked to their continent. Jens Lange explains the concept, “We are celebrating the diversity of the global Church, whereby we can learn from each other. At the end of the evening, we will have produced five to-dos which the youth can take home with them: ‘Here I am’ – for Christian values, for my Lord, for nature …”


Much thought is going into the preparations for the divine service on Sunday morning. The challenge lies in the fact that until shortly before the beginning of the divine service young people will still be entering the arena. On the other hand, the participants are to be able to prepare themselves in a calm and reverent atmosphere for the service. There are plans for a band to play music, among other things, and a video will show clips with impressions of the IYC, the Bishop says. “Sunday is the highlight with the divine service, but it is also the last day. So it is nice if there is a chance to look back over the last couple of days.”

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