‘So much more than an event’

Timed to coincide with the dates the 2022 Triennium was to have been held, three online guides are published for local use

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

Representatives of the Minahasan Tribe of Indonesia danced for Presbyterian Youth Triennium attendees in 2019. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — On the very days Presbyterian Youth Triennium was to be gathering in Indianapolis, Indiana before the highly anticipated event fell victim to Covid, three online resource guides have been published so that youth and their leaders can participate in their own way and at their own pace.

“One day I thought, ‘July 24th! Let’s launch on the day that PYT 2022 was to launch!” said Gina Yeager-Buckley, Associate for Youth and Triennium. A mantra of the PYT team has been “that our call for this theme ‘When Did We See You?’ was so much more than an event,” she said. “The call now was to launch this theme into the hearts and minds of our young Presbyterians.”

A Group Study Guide, Recreation Guide and Worship and Prayer Guide are now available for download.

The Group Study Guide can be used in several ways: as part of youth group, at a weekend retreat, or with another youth group to explore the theme “When Did We See You?” together. Participants, according to the Group Study Guide description, “will have the opportunity to creatively explore Scripture and their own experience filtered through the lens of Matthew 25.”

The Recreation Guide contains recreation plans that can be tailored to local gatherings. “Our team has put together a collection of games for opening recreation and community building time, decorating ideas for different spaces (whether indoor or outdoor), games to play around the table at mealtimes and a theme party plan that is highly adaptable,” according to the guide’s description.

The Worship and Prayer Guide provides worship resources that correspond with the three sessions of the Group Study Guide. Each session includes an opening worship and a closing worship gathering “that you are invited to reference and make your own,” the description says. Each worship service also includes a brief homily, which can be viewed here, here and here.

Yeager-Buckley said the PYT production team met in Indianapolis in February after the decision had been made to cancel the in-person event as “a sort of think tank, prayer meeting, brainstorm and communal mourning and moving on experience.” One of the key decisions was “to get this incredible theme and message ‘out there,’” across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its Triennium partner, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

Kris Adler-Brammer and Samantha Hassell teamed to write Group Study Guide. The Recreation Guide, “Let’s Play!” came from Triennium’s Recreation Team coordinators, Beth Gunn and Leslie McCarthy, as well as the event’s on-stage recreation leaders. PYT worship coordinators and their team wrote the Worship and Prayer Guide.

All three resources include ideas generated by production team members (youth and adults) “who worked via Zoom for a year and then finally got to meet each other in person in February 2022,” Yeager-Buckley said.

Intended audiences include youth groups, intergenerational groups and family camp communities. “They work well for a presbytery event, a mid-week series, a weekend retreat or a five-day camp or conference,” Yeager-Buckley said. “They work at a church, a hotel, a camp or a home. They can be adjusted for different size groups, from the very small to the very large.” As well, “then can be adjusted for middle school, high school and young-adult adult groups,” she said.

Yeager-Buckley said she and others in the PYT team have heard of “a number of presbyteries that are planning late summer, fall or winter mini ‘PYT’ type events,” and plan to put the new resources to use.

“I’m dying for someone to create a multi-generational month-long series, perhaps for Lent” or for the period between Epiphany and Lent, Yeager-Buckley said. A friend plans a youth study and mission trip incorporating the new resources.

Of the three, the Group Study Guide is the core component, with the others designed as “parallel” and “plug-in” resources, according to Yeager-Buckley.

“The Recreation resource has everything from ‘get to know you’ games to very fun and creative decoration/environment ideas, all the way down to a detailed theme party,” she said. “The Worship and Prayer Guide is very simple, interactive and beautiful. We kept it simple so that it could be easily dropped into PowerPoint slides, bulletins, or call-and-response [style or worship].”

The same qualities that make Presbyterian Youth Triennium a must-attend event for thousands of youth and their leaders are also present in the new resources, including quality design, detailed plans, supply lists, preparation suggestions and “solid theological underpinning,” according to Yeager-Buckley.

“We start from scratch every three years. We literally innovate every three years,” she said. “We work hard to monitor ‘traditions’ because the landscape, our audience and the needs of the world, the church and the participant is always changing. While there is definitely a ‘PYT style,’ our programming is always evolving. And that, for me, is innovation.”

That innovation has grown to include many geographies, cultures, rites of passage and ways of thinking and teaching theologically “with young hearts and minds,” Yeager-Buckley said. “Innovation is not just a wild card … it is planning and hosting something that opens itself to all kinds of participants and rhythms. It is inclusive of small church, worshiping community, a group of friends, a two-kid youth group and a cluster of churches.”

For Yeager-Buckley, innovation is intriguing, “and it is attractive to the potential user and, hopefully, the participant. And what a time for this new way of being the PYT community to come about! We are seeing each other again in a different way, with a little bit of hesitancy … It is time to see each other, and yet still honor the profound interruption we’ve all been through and are still going through.”

“So, I guess that innovation also means fresh with a sprinkle of reality,” she said.

Gina Yeager-Buckley

The three new resources are the first phase of additional resources that are still being developed. The second phase, planned for a fall release, will include a Spirituality Center Blueprint, a Seeing through Singing resource, and a Seeing through Service and Mission packet.

It’s also “our hope” to launch virtual Lens Lab cohorts in 2023, Yeager-Buckley said. Those will be limited session, Zoom-oriented leader/topic-based experiences, she said.

“The idea is that this theme is something we will enjoy, live into, investigate and wrestle with for the next three years and beyond!” Yeager-Buckley said. “It is our hope and prayer that these Scriptures and stories and this invitation to truly ‘see’ becomes a mantra for young Presbyterians and that it walks with them forever.”

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