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Triennium stage is set


Nearly 75 exhibitors await the arrival of more than 4,000 youth

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, co-moderator of the 223rd General Assembly, and Jeff Dorris prepare an Office of General Assembly display at 2019 Youth Triennium. (Photo by Rich Copley)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — As the Rev. Rob Mueller of Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church in San Antonio put the final touches on the Global Partners exhibit space at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium Tuesday morning, he was experiencing both joy and anguish due to circumstances on the U.S. southern border.

“This is absolutely a statement of faith for me,” said Triennium’s Global Partners coordinator.

“Any opportunity I have to offer space and welcome and embrace the diversity of countries in the world, I’ll take and rejoice.”

Saying diversity and joy are emblematic of what he wants for the United States — rather than hostility — Mueller’s Global Partners team is welcoming 65 youth from Japan, South Korea, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Guatemala and Mexico.

“Each of these kids is hosted by a family, church and presbytery,” said Chris Gordon of the Global Partners team. “Before they ever get here, they’re experiencing love in urban and rural areas — and in states where both the kids and the families might not have had a chance to connect otherwise.”

The Global Partners booth is one of nearly 75 exhibits at Triennium.  Connected to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Cumberland Presbyterian Church, each exhibitor has come with a plethora of resources for the more than 4,000 youth who will descend on the Purdue University campus Tuesday afternoon.

“They’ve all worked incredibly hard to make their space interactive for youth to find resources that might be helpful to them,” says exhibit hall coordinator Beth Mueller, who is worship and arts director at Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.

“There’s games, activities, opportunities for photos, art projects, and concessions like root beer floats,” Mueller said.

Beach balls at the Presbyterian Mission Agency booth will help introduce Presbyterian Youth Triennium attendees to the Matthew 25 invitation. (Photo by Rich Copley)

At the Presbyterian Mission Agency booth, Triennium youth will have a chance to learn about the church’s Matthew 25 invitation, which focuses on building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism and eradicating systemic poverty. Youth can then write and share for all to see what this means to them.

“These are important things to them at their stage of life,” says communications administrative manager Dana Dages. “What better way to introduce Matthew 25 to them by being here?”

At the Illustrated Children’s Ministry area, founder Adam Walker Cleveland has created daily coloring sheets that illustrate the theme of each day. Nearby, at the Young Adult Volunteers space, young people will have a chance to paint a “Love Thy Neighbor” mural created by a former YAV.

In the Office of Christian Formation space, youth will have a chance to play a new card game @CHURCH, which highlights the six practices of intergenerational faith formation on which the national office is focusing: Sabbath, prayer, storytelling, service, hospitality and retreat.

“This is the first time Christian Formation has had the chance to exhibit with our five age-and-stage ministry partners,” says Christian Formation associate Stephanie Fritz.

“Our camp and conference ministries are so important to young people,” she said, “and we’re looking forward to sharing with them our passions with them. They can come and sit around the indoor campfire with us.”

For the nearly 75 exhibitors present at Presbyterian Youth Triennium, the importance of making connections with Presbyterian young people is top of mind.

“One of the most important things we do is invest in their lives,” says Mueller, the exhibit hall coordinator.

“We have to find a way live with peace and joy,” added Rob Mueller, her husband,  who was also coordinator for Global Partners at the 2016 Triennium.

“It’s a thrill to come back to experience forgiveness and grace with young people from here and around the world.”

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