Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

The PC(USA)’s Pentecost Offering celebrates its 25th anniversary


Generous giving from across the denomination has supported children at risk, youth and young adults since 1998

by Emily Enders Odom | Presbyterian News Service

valerie izumi and Elizabeth Odom are pictured during the 2013 Presbyterian Youth Triennium. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — When Elizabeth Odom was just a baby, so was the Pentecost Offering.

Twenty-five years later, both are thriving.

Today, Elizabeth is a social worker and American Sign Language interpreter serving the Deaf community in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Pentecost Offering helped her get there.

“Triennium helped me to better understand who I am as a child of God,” said Elizabeth, who, with her husband Ryan Clark-Sulkey, is active in “The Space Between,” a young adult initiative of Salem Presbytery.

She still remembers the thrill of being in community with thousands of teens like herself at the triennial gathering of Presbyterian and Reformed youth, which she attended in 2013.

Sponsored by the PC(USA) in partnership with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, the first Presbyterian Youth Triennium was held in 1980 at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

“It really made me feel like I belong and helped me figure out what God was calling me to do,” said Elizabeth, the daughter of the author of this report.

Creating just such opportunities for youth to grow, thrive, discern their vocation and take part in building up the body of Christ is what the Pentecost Offering — one of the PC(USA)’s four Special Offerings — has been about since 1998.

Not only do gifts to the Pentecost Offering benefit young people like Elizabeth by supporting the Office of Presbyterian Youth and Triennium, but the Offering also helps to fund the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) Program and the Educate a Child, Transform the World national initiative.

Elizabeth Odom, Deaf Services Clinician, (left) with Marissa Woodruff, Assistant Director of Alumni/ae Relations at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf, signing “I love you” in ASL on the occasion of Marissa’s wedding. (Contributed photo)

“Watching young people in the church find their voice, passion, next steps and deepest callings has been completely elevated because of the generosity of gifts to the Pentecost Offering,” said Gina Yeager-Buckley, mission coordinator for Presbyterian Youth and Triennium. “For 25 years this church has witnessed a thriving, young and fresh outpouring of deeply supported and encouraged discipleship. I have watched this offering from its first day. And I have seen children to youth to young adults be convicted, called and celebrated.”

The Pentecost Offering is unique in that 40% of the total amount received is retained by individual congregations for local ministries in their communities, while the remaining 60% is used to support children at risk, and youth and young adults through ministries of the Mission Agency.

Although the Pentecost Offering may be taken anytime, most congregations choose to receive it on Pentecost Sunday, which this year falls on May 28.

Since 1998, some 68 churches — or less than 1% of the denomination’s nearly 9,000 congregations — have taken part in the Pentecost Offering annually since its inception.

“As we approach the culmination of the Pentecost Offering season, I want to celebrate these 68 congregations for their amazing 25-year commitment,” said Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation. “Their generosity over the years has nurtured the faith of generations of young people as they share their unique gifts with the church and the world.”

Destini Hodges, coordinator of the Young Adult Volunteer (YAV) program — which also receives support from the Pentecost Offering — enthusiastically joins Lueckert and others in celebrating the faithfulness of every church that has contributed from the very beginning.

The YAV program, an ecumenical, faith-based year of service in sites across the U.S. and around the world which is ever so slightly older than the Pentecost Offering itself, has been changing the lives of young people ages 19–30 for nearly three decades. In addition to service, the YAV experience emphasizes living in intentional Christian community, spiritual formation and vocational discernment.

“Special Offerings has been one of our most longstanding friends when it comes to supporting the YAV Program,” said Hodges, “not just through financial contributions to secure funding for YAVs to continue to discern their vocation through an intentional Christian year of service, but also in keeping the program connected to the larger church. It has been often said that the YAV Program is the best kept secret in the Presbyterian Church. Special Offerings has been working diligently to change that narrative by telling the stories of our YAVs, YAV alums, and partners to the wider church.”

Most importantly, Hodges added, Special Offerings has been influential in keeping the YAV Program connected to the other two Pentecost Offering recipients, the Presbyterian Youth Triennium and the Educate a Child, Transform the World (EAC) initiative, which is overseen by the Rev. Dr. Alonzo Johnson, coordinator of the Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People, who also serves as staff person for EAC.

“Thanks to the Pentecost Offering, our close collaboration with these two ministry partners helps us to realize that we are in this work together to bring forth transformational ministry that shapes youth and young adults into the leaders of today,” said Hodges.


In honor of the Pentecost Offering’s 25th anniversary year, Special Offerings is also providing congregations with the opportunity to customize their own bulletin insert for the 2023 Pentecost Offering, sharing with church members how the congregation will use its 40% of the Offering to build a foundation of faith in children, youth and young adults in the community.

“It’s my hope and my prayer that faithful Presbyterians will continue to support the Pentecost Offering and the Church’s and local community’s future leaders for another 25 years and beyond,” said the Rev. Chris H. Roseland, acting director for Special Offerings.

Roseland and the Special Offerings team also look forward to welcoming more Four for Four congregations to the PC(USA) family, meaning churches that receive all four of the Special Offerings mandated by the General Assembly. In addition to the Pentecost Offering, the four Offerings include Peace & Global Witness, Christmas Joy and One Great Hour of Sharing.

“Just like the day of Pentecost itself, the Pentecost Offering nurtures creativity and vitality in the church through the power of the Holy Spirit,” said the Rev. Dr. John Wilkinson, director of Ministry Engagement and Support. “We are grateful for the thousands of congregations who participate in Special Offerings every year. Our churches’ generosity and commitment to making a difference in the world is a testament to the power of our shared and connectional faith. As we celebrate 25 years of the Pentecost Offering, may we all continue to faithfully build up the body of Christ by empowering our Presbyterian youth.”

Celebrate 25 years of the Pentecost Offering by giving generously to support children at risk, youth and young adults!

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