Changes are coming to Presbyterian Youth Triennium

May 13, 2021 by Mike Ferguson

The 2022 version of Presbyterian Youth Triennium will feature a Matthew 25 framework, activities that will extend a full year following Triennium and enough innovation to send thousands of high schoolers and young adults scurrying to register — once registration goes live this winter.

Among other changes, organizers are moving the popular every-three-years event, set for July 24-27, 2022, from the campus of Purdue University, which has hosted Triennium since 1983, to a place where everyone involved can enjoy around-the-clock air conditioning: the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, as well as at least eight nearby hotels, most of them connected to the convention center by pedestrian walkways. All attendees will enjoy their meals together in a large assembly hall at the convention center. Meals together will also include Bible study, games — and one of PYT’s signature components, music.

The theme for the gathering of high school-aged youth from the PC(USA) and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches, said Gina Yeager-Buckley, Associate for the PC(USA)’s Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, is “When Did We See You?” Taken from Jesus’ Judgment of the Nations as depicted in Matthew 25:31-46, the theme is designed to engage young people with seeing, acting, awareness and a number of justice qualities, including just living and “just being just,” she said. The mission priorities at the heart of the Matthew 25 invitationdismantling structural racism, eradicating systemic poverty and building congregational vitality — will be explored in depth, “as they are the foundational content for the whole event,” according to Yeager-Buckley.

Another innovation: rather than meeting in small groups as before, attendees will explore Triennium themes as part of about 15 “Lens Labs,” such as through poetry. Youth who would rather stay in a small group can do so using a small group guide. Participants will “choose how to explore the Scripture based on passion, interest or curiosity,” Yeager-Buckley said.

“Truthfully, this generation of young people — they are profoundly, seriously ready to go when it comes to race and poverty,” Yeager-Buckley said. “They are more passionate about the environment, about fairness, about how a person is truly ‘themselves’ — as God made them — and how they tackle, disarm and embark upon the serious path of healing.” Congregational vitality, a Matthew 25 focus many see as a natural fit with Triennium, comes “from vigilance and action,” she said. “It can stem from idealism that then evolves into a deep resonance and understanding. That’s where we’re going with PYT 2022.”

While organizers are waiting until fall to announce Triennium leadership, Yeager-Buckley said the leaders selected are “exciting” and “excited about the 2022 event.”

“There is this sense that all of us are embarking on a new adventure to connect younger Presbyterians with each other, to the world as it is and to how God calls them to see and do. When you have that feeling — as planners, leaders, chaperones, parents — you feel gratitude and a sort of scary joy, because it’s a change. And the world is tough. And our young people are so ready to see and do.”

During the year following Triennium, youth will build on their experience through an approach called PYT Beyond. Those opportunities will include resources, opportunities, traveling retreats, leader development seminars and mission experiences, both in-person and virtual, all employing the PYT theme and content.

Those post-Triennium events “will expand and deepen the impact of the excellent content the event and its leadership create,” Yeager-Buckley said. A full ministry team called “PYT-B” is at work fleshing out these features.

“This is something we have wanted to do for the past decade, so that the impact lasts longer and goes more deeply,” Yeager-Buckley said. “We know Triennium is impactful, but what makes it more impactful is taking it and sharing it.”

The cost for youth to attend is $515. Adults will pay $535. While registration won’t be available for a few months, registrars are already working with presbyteries and churches to recruit participants, plan budgets and, as Yeager-Buckley said, “interpret the Triennium to the thousands of churches and families out there.” Registration information, including how to register, help with building a delegation and event resources, will roll out over the summer and fall on the Presbyterian Youth Triennium website, found here.

As it has for everyone for the past 14 months and for Triennium planners for more than four decades, safety for participants, their adult chaperones and others involved in the four-day event is the primary concern.

“We, like everyone else in the church and world, are carefully navigating the COVID realities, guidance and instruction,” Yeager-Buckley said. “We have worked closely with the Indianapolis Visitors and Convention Bureau and the hotels and all our colleagues in the Presbyterian Mission Agency and Administrative Services Group to be very aware, vigilant and informed as we move ahead.”

Triennium planners feel “a deep sense of responsibility to ‘go deep’ and ‘move creatively’ with the 2022 event and all plans beyond,” Yeager-Buckley said. “Matthew 25 and the vision for restoring wholeness to God’s people — this is not a simple, ‘catchy’ or temporary thing. It’s life-changing. It demands all of us, planners and participants, to open our eyes, really see what is happening and really be aware of how we each have a call to see Jesus in each other and then move because of that.”

This was published for Presbyterian News Service on May 13, 2021.

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