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A look at how faith communities and mid councils are making Triennium their own

In Nebraska, they’re calling their event ‘INSTEADIUM’

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Now that Presbyterian Youth Triennium Beyond events are being scheduled, Presbyterian News Service visited with PYT director Gina Yeager-Buckley to learn how new free online resources help young people go deeper into the theme of PYT2022, which was cancelled because of Covid.

 PNS: What is PYT Connect and PYT Beyond?

Gina Yeager-Buckley: PYT Connect are resources that connect youth, youth leaders and other participants to the Matthew 25 message and the PYT theme “When Did We See You?” PYT Beyond is event- and gathering-oriented. It takes the Matthew 25 vision and PYT theme into the world and community with our hands and feet — into the intentions of our daily lives and rhythms. PYT Connect resources can be used at the PYT Beyond events because they come from the same theme grid and theological context. The actual events will be a hive of incredible content, complete with interactive prayer stations, leader training, Bible study, and worship — along with music, parties and visuals.

PNS: How will PYT Connect and Beyond help move the Presbyterian Youth Triennium from a week-long event to more of a shared community and experience?

Yeager-Buckley: We made the decision to cancel the 2022 event because of Covid, at a strategic time before PYT groups had spent major money on transportation. We wanted them to have time to see what other opportunities were available for youth through their presbytery and church. We know of groups who are using the “When Did We See You?” theme and graphics — and are planning on hosting events this summer — and of others who used their presbytery funds to offer scholarships to camps and other conferences for youth.

Gina Yeager-Buckley

PYT Beyond and Connect and the “When Did We See You?” theme will run through 2024. These new resources will help mid councils, churches, youth committees and camps plan their own “When Did We See You?” event. In this way, so many more young people will have the chance to hear and embody this theme.

PNS: What do you think the voices and presence of younger Presbyterians lifted up in shared community and experience will do for our church, congregations and mid councils?

Yeager-Buckley: When we listen to our youth, we hear many things: an echo of our own longings and needs when we were teenagers and a reminder that the church and world need constant, consistent reform. Our young people help us hear that. As they move from being dependent into autonomy, they see things that need reforming and want to act quickly. Their voices are critical. They give adults important information on how life can be when we let go of control and fear. There is something magnificent about being in the presence of youth when they are together — whether at PYT, camp, in the youth pew at church or on Zoom. They remind us of joy, unfettered response, and real-time reaction to the Word.

PNS: Anything else you’d like us to know?

Yeager-Buckley: A “When Did We See You?” PYT Beyond event called “INSTEADIUM” is being held August 20-21 at Cavin Crest Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center in Nebraska. They started planning the event before our Connect resources were available and are doing something very cool with the event. They will have sessions on team building, companionship, and leadership — and of course a campfire led by Sara Renner, [a professional oboist who volunteers annually at Calvin Crest].

PNS talked with David Friedli, the organizer of the “INSTEADIUM” event, a self-described “Triennium junkie” and ruling elder at Murray Presbyterian Church in Nebraska. He first went to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium 30 years ago, and then became then became the PYT registrar for Homestead Presbytery in 1995 and 1998. As a Triennium small group leader since 2001, when this year’s event was cancelled, he planned a PYT Beyond event based on “the awesome” PYT theme.

David Friedli, a retired teacher, has been a Presbyterian Youth Triennium small group leader since 2001. (Contributed photo)

“We can’t replicate Triennium, but we can help our teenagers understand how to do mission in their world,” he said. “Jesus taught (in Matthew 25) that ‘whatever you did for the least of these… you did for me.’  We’ll be asking those who come, ‘When do you see Jesus in high school?’”

Friedli adds that INSTEADIUM presenters will provide teenagers with skills in group dynamics, leadership and being a friend to specifically help others through times of grief and loss. The campfire and closing worship themes will come about with materials provided by the PYT design team. As of earlier this week, 30 youth had signed up for this PYT Beyond event.

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