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Presbyterian Youth Triennium speaker highlight: Anna Sweet Brockman

Recent seminary graduate brings passion for youth ministry to Triennium

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Anna Sweet Brockman. (Photo provided)

Anna Sweet Brockman. (Photo provided)

LOUISVILLE – Since she received her call to ministry, Anna Sweet Brockman has served in a variety of ministries including pulpit supply, children and youth ministry, and planning for camps and conferences.

A first-time Presbyterian Youth Triennium attendee, Brockman is a lifelong member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. She has preached at denominational conferences as well as congregations throughout West Tennessee. Brockman is a graduate of Bethel University in Tennessee and a student at Memphis Theological Seminary this May. Calling upon creative practices in all aspects of her life, she enjoys theatre and swing dancing. Originally from East Tennessee, Anna now lives in West Tennessee with her husband Wesley.

She’s currently exploring call options and hopes to serve in a pastoral position at a Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Brockman spoke to Presbyterian News Service about her passion for encouraging young people in their spiritual journeys to “Go and do likewise” in service to their neighbor.

What will you preach or present on at PYT?

I have been asked to preach on Luke 10:25-37, and within that section is the parable of the Good Samaritan. The theme for me is “Go and do likewise.” The parable itself is so well known—it’s one of the most recognizable pieces of scripture—that I really love they asked me to include the portion that comes before the parable because the questions Jesus asks really make the parable. They give a great introduction to the parable; it happens with in a conversation Jesus is having.

Why is this topic important for young people today and for the church?

Young people are very much hands on. They want to go and do. They don’t just want to think about good things. They don’t want to just have these nice thoughts or have proclamations. They want to be doers; they want to be Christians.

This parable is one of those that really takes us back to the core understanding of our faith, asking ‘how do we live out or faith, how do we live out our Christianity?’ The answer is, we act like neighbors.

How does this tie into what we are hearing about the Millennial Generation, who we hear are service oriented and focused on values missions?

Young people are really looking for authenticity. And authenticity looks like living what you believe. They might not have found that in a church building. They may have had poor experiences where they felt like they didn’t see other people living out what they believe.

Previous generations probably did feel like they were doing things that reflected their beliefs. Things like faithful giving—in giving money to church or giving time to their church—were seen as service too. Those are faithful ways of being a Christian, yet Millennials are looking beyond the church for that faithfulness. They may have a more worldly view than others have had.

That sense of authenticity, ‘I want to be who I say I am,’ goes beyond Sunday morning services, beyond Bible studies, beyond giving on Sunday mornings.

What was the draw for you to attend PYT?

I want to go to Presbyterian Youth Triennium at least once in my life. I want to do something that’s bigger than my individual church, my presbytery or my denomination. It’s somewhere we can see our denominations coming together, at least for a short period of time.

I’ve wanted to go in the past, but because it comes up once every three years it wasn’t possible. Your summers get packed, especially for those who work in youth ministry.

What’s the power of bringing 5,000 youth to one place to experience faith together?

We talk a lot about the young people [the church] is losing. The latest statistic I’ve heard is that once kids graduate from high school approximately 80 percent of them drop out of church until they have kids themselves.

Even if we’re losing some, we still have some. Young people are still strong in the church and want to make the church into what they feel is a faithful representation of the gospel. When they come to places like Triennium they can see there are others like them who feel a call to remain in the church.

Maybe when you get together and find that solidarity you can find ways of encouraging others who may not feel as comfortable in the church. It’s an opportunity to invite them back.

What’s one thing you want each person who hears you to go away with, to share, or to implement in his or her daily life? 

The parable [of the Good Samaritan] speaks quite plainly—‘Go! And be a neighbor to you neighbors.’ Go and do the work. You know what’s right. You know what’s good, so do it.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I’ve never been to Presbyterian Youth Triennium; so this will be my first time. My parents have gone before and it will be neat from going to hearing about it to actually participating in it.

Although I don’t know what it’ll be like, I’m very excited to be there and expect it to be a joy to be there.

Presbyterian Youth Triennium is sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The event runs July 19-23 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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