Gathering Transitions: Thank You to Molly Beck Dean

Dear friends,

Deacon Tammy Jones West

At this year’s Extravaganza, ELCA staff members and many of the team leaders from the ELCA Youth Gathering were present to talk about the cancellation of the 2022 Gathering and the transition to the 2024 Youth Gathering. And at this event, Deacon Tammy Jones West was introduced as the new Interim Director of the ELCA Youth Gathering. We are excited to welcome Tammy into this critical role. She is amazing and will do a wonderful job.

Of course, any time there is transition, there are difficult decisions and challenging moments.

We want to pause and give thanks to Molly Beck Dean for serving as the Director of the Gathering until just a few weeks ago.

Molly took over leadership of the ELCA Youth Gathering at the 2015 event in Detroit. In her time as Director, Gathering registration grew for the first time since 2003. Molly expanded the base of leadership, she imagined new possibilities, and she strengthened the commitment of the Gathering to justice and inclusivity. We will always be grateful for Molly’s leadership.

We thought it was important as a Network to publicly thank Molly for her work: Thank you, Molly, for your leadership and ministry on behalf of the Gathering, the church, and our young people.

There have been many questions about the circumstances of Molly’s departure. There are some who have called for greater transparency, and who have a belief that something deeper is going on…some kind of a secret that is being hidden. This is not the case.

The way human resource and employment laws and practices are shaped is to protect both the individual and the organization. We honor Molly’s privacy, and we honor her request that her departure from the ELCA staff not be a topic of public conversation. 

Molly Beck Dean

What we can do as a community is to honor Molly for her work and for her identity as a baptized and loved child of God. All the rest is just detail.  

We deeply thank Molly for all she has given to the church, to the Gathering, and to the Network over decades. She is loved and appreciated. And we will let her share her own story in whatever way she feels is appropriate.

And we will continue to pray for the work of the Gathering. It is an important ministry that we want to support and care for. We pray for Tammy, the Gathering staff, and its team leaders. The best way we can honor Molly’s work is to make sure it continues and grows. And we will pray for Molly in this transition. And we hope that she remembers that she has friends within the Network.

Thanks be to God for the work of Molly Beck Dean and the ministry of the ELCA Youth Gathering.

God’s peace, friends –


  • Note: Before this post was published, I did receive permission from Molly to share it with the wider community.
  1. Thank you, Todd. With other stories currently in both the light and in the dark, it is natural to ask if this story also had similar characteristics. Asking for truth-telling is important, but so is respecting that the whole story is not ours to know or tell. Thank you, Molly. Peace be with you.


  2. Molly, Thank you’s are not nearly enough — but THANK YOU for your leadership, commitment, your love for youth ministry, passion for inclusion of all, answering God’s call, integrity, and your life of care and service — at home and away from home. You are loved!


  3. Thank you so much, Molly, for your leadership and your love for the Gathering and the Church’s young people. Thank you, Todd, for this public recognition of the gift Molly has been to the Church and the Network.


  4. I celebrate the continuing, rich thanks for Molly’s many forms of strengthening and stretching of youth ministries, across all expressions of this church (in blog and comments). I also appreciate the sensitive perspectives regarding the foregrounding of honor (Romans 12:10) and avoidance of speculation which can lead to distortions, dishonoring.


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