Five preachers will explore what ‘Here’s my heart’ means to them
by Mari Graham Evans | Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE — Thousands of young people from across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church are gearing up for five sweaty days of “conversation, recreation, learning, worship and fun” at this year’s 2019 Presbyterian Youth Triennium (PYT) July 16-20 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
Since 1980, this “life-changing, life-giving, faith-growing” gathering’s mission has been to “deepen the discipleship awareness” of a generation who is already distinguishing themselves in this church and the world, according to the Triennium website .
One highlight of the 2019 version of the life-changing and faith-growing experience is worship, which takes place every day of Triennium.
Held in Purdue’s historic Elliot Hall of Music, worship at the event is planned by and for the thousands of young people who attend every three years.
“Drawing upon the stories, pathways, adventures and trials that real Presbyterian youth face, each service is crafted around a particular sub-theme, goal and focus Scripture. With drama, singing, dancing, and contemplation, worship at the Triennium is the central nerve center of the event,” as the Triennium website puts it.
One of the featured preachers is the Rev. Sandra Van Opstal. A second-generation Latina and preaching pastor at Grace and Peace Community in Chicago, Van Opstal is a preacher, liturgist and activist who holds a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill.
The heart of Van Opstal’s message to Triennium attendees will focus on how transformational faith stories can shape Christians their whole life long.
“The faith story that we read in Scripture is one of adventure, risks and transformation,” she said in an email. “While we may experience frustration and longing in the way the church looks in different seasons, we must remember that the ultimate vision of the church is that of a signpost of a coming day when there will be no more tears, pain, injustice or suffering.
“We are not bystanders in this process — we are full participants with agency and power who get to be the church. God sees who we are, our personalities, our history, our gifts, our mistakes — God sees them all. And being seen, we are invited to helps others see God.
“Instead of a generation of faith-filled people who stand on the sidelines and critique, or walk away in apathy, what if we showed people a different way? What a sight it would be to see the people of God chasing justice together!”
Another preacher whom attendees and bystanders alike can look forward to is the Rev. Johan Daza. Originally from Colombia, Daza has been serving the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for the last eight years.
For Daza, this year’s theme, “Here’s my Heart,” is as much personal as it is prophetic.
“My nephew Mateo (12 years old) had a heart transplant last year on June 21,” he said in an email. “There are many things to learn from a ‘struggling’ heart and how a new heart can change and transform a life. I’m sharing … about the privilege we have as God’s children to offer our lives to God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.
“But what happens when our heart is not strong enough? Can we still love God? Can we still say, ‘Here’s my heart?’ The experiences that my nephew and my son Felipe (19 months old) have given me (offer) some life-changing perspectives about giving our best to God.”
Beyond Van Opstal and Daza, Triennium attendees can look forward to hearing from these preachers:
- Rev. Sera Chung, director of the Asian American Program at Princeton Theological Seminary
- Rev. Dr. David Gambrell, associate for worship in the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Theology and Worship
- Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Occurring once every three years, Presbyterian Youth Triennium is a gathering for high school age youth from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The 2019 event is July 16-20 at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The theme for the 2019 event is “Here’s My Heart”. Learn more here. The Presbyterian Youth Triennium is supported by your gifts to the Pentecost Offering.
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