Says one leader: ‘This just proves to us that we need curriculum for every retreat’
by Beth Waltemath | Presbyterian News Service
Youth are gathering across the 50 states and Puerto Rico thanks to resources and grants available through the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium in the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
When the pandemic shut down plans last year for the epic every-third-year event, its fearless and flexible organizers pivoted to take the theme, the swag, the funds and the fun to places where smaller groups of young people could gather safely and share where they saw God in their lives, their relationships and in their larger communities.
Presbyterian Youth Triennium Beyond “includes a variety of gatherings and opportunities to experience PYT and the theme of ‘When Did We See You?’ beyond the traditional Triennium event,” said Gina Yeager-Buckley, coordinator for Presbyterian Youth and Triennium. “We are called to launch this Matthew 25 theme into the hearts and minds of our young people, their leaders and beyond — into congregations, camps, conference centers, virtual spaces and more.” Yeager-Buckley added that she hopes leaders will plan or sponsor their own “PYT Beyond event regionally, in your local church or with a collected group of participants.”
The “When Did We See You?” theme draws from many sources of Scripture where God shows up in unexpected and meaningful ways, particularly at points when someone is feeling most vulnerable. It’s inspired by the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s focus on the call in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, to truly recognize one’s neighbors and to do more than meet their short-term needs but also to address the long-term causes of those needs. The four “When Did We See You?” resource booklets, available in English and Spanish, anticipate and address the needs of camp organizers, youth leaders and youth participants, through preparations on how to organize a regional event, plan recreation activities, facilitate Bible study and lead worship.
More than 27 local and regional events have happened since August, according to Heather Leoncini, mission specialist in the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium. Event organizers are encouraged to submit their photos and descriptions to an event gallery featured on the Presbyterian Youth Triennium website. The organizers of the first retreat to post on the gallery called their event “Insteadium 2022” and hosted 24 high school students, five adult leaders and eight staff volunteers at an 18-hour event at Calvin Crest Camp Conference and Retreat Center in Fremont, Nebraska.
Nineteen students from grades 6-12 gathered at Camp Burton on Vashon Island, Washington, on March 3-4. On Friday evening during a worship service exploring the ideas in Matthew 25, the leaders offered interactive prayer stations followed by shared stories of when participants had encountered God when they interacted with the “least of these.”
Flint River Presbytery sponsored an overnight youth retreat in March at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Valdosta, Georgia, to interpret the Matthew 25 theme through the issue of food insecurity by engaging the three-session Bible study guide of the “When Did We See You?” resources between intentional menus and mealtimes focused on world hunger issues. Eight youth from two different churches and six adults attended the event titled “Food for My Kin.” Over a Middle Eastern lentil dinner, the students learned about refugee camps in that area and the struggle for survival, including access to healthy food in the camps. At breakfast, students were served rice porridge and learned about starvation and food insecurity in Asia. Later the students volunteered at the host church’s food pantry. The weekend ended by making “Depression Cookies” from a family recipe of the event’s volunteer cook that originated during the Great Depression.
A youth leader who attended a regional event held at Pinecrest Camp and Retreat Center in Moscow, Tennessee, raved about the “When Did We See You?” event organized by Executive Director Lucy Cummings that was held Feb. 22-24. “This just proves to us that we need to buy curriculum for every retreat. My kids got so much to chew on,” the youth leader wrote. Cummings noted that the liturgy in the worship guide was particularly powerful. “Three other youth leaders asked who wrote the prayers. One said, ‘Do they know my child? Because that prayer was written directly for her.’”
“The Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium will be planning and sponsoring PYT Beyond opportunities over the next few years, featuring the creativity of Presbyterian youth, young adults and leaders,” Yeager-Buckley said. She described how PYT Connect resources and the PYT Beyond events expand the opportunities sponsored by her office. “Where PYT Connect is focused on resources and tools, PYT Beyond is focused on experiences that bring people together to SEE!”
Gifts to the Pentecost Offering support the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium.
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Categories: Partner Associations, Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, Special Offerings
Tags: gina yeager buckley, matthew 25 invitation, Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, presbyterian youth triennium beyond, Special Offerings, when did we see you?
Ministries: Theology, Formation & Evangelism, Youth Ministry, Partner Associations, Special Offerings