2019 PRESBYTERIAN YOUTH TRIENNIUM
The Triennium program included daily worship service and theme presentations in a theater-style auditorium. There was a variety of special events including recreation, movies, concerts, prayer services and yes, even some quiet time.
This year Lehigh Presbytery sent four youth delegates and one adult advisor. We joined our delegation with the Lackawanna delegation and shared the adult advisors.
Our delegation consisted of Evan Gill and Ella Wiese from Faith Presbyterian Church in Emmaus; Lucas Swanson and Callie Falzone from the East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church; and Rev. Nicole Vogel as the adult advisor from the East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church.
Presbyterian Youth Triennium is a gathering for high school age youth from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that occurs every three years. The 2019 event is July 16-20, 2018 at Purdue University. The theme for the 2019 event is “Here’s My Heart”.
2013 PRESBYTERIAN YOUTH TRIENNIUM DELEGATION – REFLECTIONS
The Lehigh Presbytery, First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua, Community Presbyterian Church of Mt. Bethel-Portland, Presbyterian Church of Catasauqua, Olivet United Presbyterian Church of Easton and the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown sponsored 13 youth delegates to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium (PYT) at Purdue University this July.
The theme this year was “I AM”. Each day participants explored one of the significant “I am” metaphors from the gospels. Jesus used “I AM” images to help the rookie disciples understand his purpose, depth of care, everlasting presence and wide redemptive love.
This event was for high school youth (entering freshman to graduating seniors) from around the country. Over 5,000 youth attended this 5-day event where they worshiped, participated in small group events and discussions, and grew closer together by participating in games and various activities.
These youth enjoyed their experience and came back energized, with a new focus on what it means to be a Christian. Below are reflections on their time at the Youth Triennium. I hope they have the opportunity to share with your congregations what they have experienced and how they have grown in their faith.
I am a confused and searching Christian. I am a person who will change the world. I am a child of God. I am, because I belong.
This was my second Triennium and though I was worried going into it, that nothing could possibly compare to the amazing experience of my first Triennium, I was proved wrong. Triennium is a place to let everything go, to let down emotional and social barriers and to let in the love of Christ, the love of life, and the love of fellow peers. It is easy sometimes to lose hope in God and the church, and it gets easy to doubt your religion and even to doubt yourself. But at Triennium you are surrounded by teens experiencing the same feelings of frustration loss and confusion while on a similar faith journey as you. But through personal connections formed in small groups, and during activities, you meet people from around the world who are sure to change your life forever. From supporting you to sharing similar stories, every participant, adult and youth alike, are there to form positive memories and to support one another.
This experience has quite literally changed my life. I went into this trip thinking I was on steady footing in my faith journey, thinking that I was well on my way to understanding everything I needed to about Religion and being a Christian. Thankfully, I was proved wrong through provocative and honest talks in my small groups and with the people from my fellow presbytery. I came out of Triennium knowing not only that I want to make a positive change in this world, but also that I can.
Thank you to everyone who was involved in making Triennium possible for me and for all of my peers.
This July, I went to Purdue University in Indiana with about twenty teens I barely knew. How scary is that? Let me tell you, it was quite frightening. Not only was I on a bus for two days, I was also about to see five thousand teens that I didn’t know or where they came from.
Honestly, I had gone into the week afraid and ready to just go with the flow, and stay out of the way. But I had experienced something so much more than that; I learned that I can put forth a motion and make a difference. The Presbyterian Church gave me an opportunity to see that I can do so much more with my life.
This experience will and has been impacting my life everyday since I left Indiana. I’ve been taking more chances with my faith and learning that it’s okay to let go. It’s okay to make mistakes and repent. And it’s okay to make new friends and just put yourself out there. I learned new things about the PCUSA and how many things they’re doing to impact the world I live in. At my home church, we don’t have mission trips or a youth group. Thankfully, I’ve met people who have shared their experiences with me and have made me see the bigger picture.
The most extraordinary thing that’s been put into my life, is all of the RADICAL people I’m staying in contact with. I never fully realized how many teens are just like I am, until I met them. Opening up to people is something I’ve always worried about. I always thought that God was supposed to know all of my deepest secrets and thoughts, but now I realize that there are so many God like people in my life that I can be honest and true to. This experience helped me to be silly and serious all in the very same moment. Also, that if I ever needed someone to count on, I can call a friend that I met at the Presbyterian Youth Triennium and they will do all they can to help. Most importantly, I learned who I am… and truthfully, “I am, because I belong”.
I had the time of my life at PYT. The people I met and the activities I took part in will stay with me for ever. The worship services were unlike anything I had ever seen. Seeing 5,000 people was nothing new for me but 5,000 Presbyterian youth worshiping God was something totally new. All of the preachers had something different to say than the one the day before. Although some sermons spoke to me more than others I learned something and took something away from each one. The praise band was amazing. They sounded great, had fun songs, and made the youth interact with the songs so everyone was worshiping together. The worship leaders who led skits and energizers knew how to get the attention of the youth and keep it. Energizers were really fun and well, energizing.
Outside of worship the fun continued. Small group sessions were a blast. Meeting new people from all over the country was really great. When my small group did a Stop Hunger Now session we not only bonded but felt like we were making some sort of contribution to help people around the world that are hungry.
One of the many highlights of the week was the I Am movie. It was moving to see the man’s life change throughout the movie and to hear his story. My favorite part was how the movie started off with the questions “What is wrong with the world?” and “What can we do about it?” But at the end of the movie the questions had changed to “What is right about the world?” The movie resulted in fascinating and wonderful conversations between small group members and the PYT girls from Eastern Penn Delegation (Lehigh, Donegal and Lackawanna Presbyteries).
Another attraction on the Purdue campus during the week was the Tree House. It was a place to relax in air conditioning, trade pins with people, play games, find out about originations around the world, and so much more. There was also the Hammock Prayer Center. It was so busy there, that I only had one chance to experience it for a couple minutes. It had multiple stations that introduced a different way to pray with an activity. For example one station was praying through drawing so there was a giant poster that read I AM and people were free to color in the letters.
I loved meeting new people and trading pins with them, too. Everywhere I went there was someone I didn’t know who came from a different place but had something in common with me. It was mind boggling to walk around for a week and know that everyone there shares very similar beliefs, in a way it connected you to the person you sat behind in worship or met in the Tree House.
Triennium was a once in a life time experience that I am so happy I got to take part in. I encourage any Presbyterian youth to go to PYT in three years.
Triennium was the greatest spiritual event that I have ever taken part in. It was full of happiness, love, and faith. Everywhere I went, I found interesting people who where different but all had one thing in common, love for Jesus Christ. Unlike High School, not once did I see someone being bullied or harassed for things that do not matter.
My favorite thing about Triennium was that everyone was encouraged to be themselves. If you love to sing, dance, or do anything out of the ordinary, you cannot be judged at Triennium. Everyone is accepting of who you are. The people are the happiest you will ever meet. No one was angry or upset. They were all happy and excited to be at Triennium.
The energy was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. During energizers, which were part of every day worship, everyone participated, despite the heat. You really do have 5,000 new friends after going to Triennium. The first thing you do when you meet someone new, is trade pins with them. This is a small token to remember each new person you meet. For example, our pins were crayons because the Crayola Factory is located in our area. Another example would be a pin with a crab on it from Maryland. This trading was carried on all throughout the week. It was a friendly way to start conversation.
Triennium was such a great experience and if I get the choice, I will absolutely choose to attend a second time.
My experience at Presbyterian Youth Triennium was amazing! For the past few years, I kept hearing how over 5,000 Presbyterian youth would be there, but it didn’t really dawn on me how big that number was until I saw us all together for worship the first time. When we sat in the Hall of Music, I looked around and finally realized that over 5,000 kids, who are my age, believe similar things, and probably struggle with some of the same problems I have were all sitting in this one room with me. It made me feel so small, but yet so strong to be part of such a huge group.
Later in the first night’s worship service, the entire room was singing and dancing along with the praise band when I was suddenly struck by how very alive all of us were at that moment. Have you heard of the idea that the Church is dying? Well I can most certainly tell you that I spent the whole week seeing the ways that the Church is living. The Church lives, moves, breathes, and works in today’s world and I got to see that.
I’m going to take away a lot from this experience, but one thing I noticed was how easy it is to meet people. Back home, I’m not shy, but I still have trouble talking to strangers and people I’ve just met. Yet at Triennium I found myself striking up random conversations with the person in front of me in line at dinner, the boy walking past me on the sidewalk, or the girl sitting next to me in worship. At Triennium I didn’t have to worry about being judged. Everyone was so kind and friendly to each other! I’ll also be taking away a new perspective on fixing our world’s problems. I learned that to right the wrongs of our world, we don’t need to change the world, we need to change the way we look at the world. We’ve gotten so accustomed to daily injustices that we almost ignore them. We need to look at the world and decide that these problems can’t go on anymore!
This year’s theme for Triennium was “I Am.” As a teenager, “I Am” is a bit of a daunting statement. We’re just figuring out who we are and most of us really aren’t sure yet. My week at Triennium was a great time to explore who I am and who God is calling me to be. I still am not positive who I am or who I’ll be, but I feel like I’m on the right path to find out.
I would like to thank the Lehigh Presbytery for all of the support and encouragement I received from it. Please continue to support this program!
I feel like my life and perspective have been changed in one spectacular week! It would be such a shame if other youth didn’t get this opportunity. To other youth considering attending in future years, I can honestly tell you that it was the experience of a lifetime! It’s amazing and comforting to see the size of a community you might not even know you belong to. To see the Church living, breathing, moving, working, dancing, singing, and loving through kids my own age was incredible!
Not all of those who apply to go to Triennium are accepted, everyone knows that as a fact. But those who do go are the lucky ones. And this past year I was one of those lucky ones to be selected to go as a youth delegate.
I have many stories and experiences to tell but so little time. I met many youth from all around the country, from Florida to California, from Texas to Washington. Many youth share these memories with one another not only as new acquaintances but as a new family brought together by the hands of God Himself. And through my time spent at Purdue University, I sought to make myself anew. To share my life experience with those in my small group and even those who rode the bus for hours on end. How we didn’t end up sick of each other no one knows. But in the end we all chose to stay on this open road and guide each other to a brighter future.
Without this experience I could not look anyone in the eye and say “May the love of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all now and forever”. But now I have a new goal in life, one not only to finish college and be with the ones I love, but also to go on past seminary and share the word of the Lord with the world. It is my renewed goal to aid all those in need of help, whether the intent to seek it or find it by accident.
My time spent at Triennium, consisted of many great worship services lead by pastors from around the country. Sharing the time I had with 5,000 other youths, was a bit more exciting than I thought it would be. Beach balls before worship or running through the fountain outside, or even just lying in the grass with someone new. Trading pins to all new friendly faces or even just meeting them and having a blast with energizers. The energy at Purdue during that week was off the wall. Maybe except for lights out, the heat was killer.
All I have to say is anyone questioning about trying PYT in 2016, go for it! Strive to put a mark on the history of PYT or even a good impression to fellow youth. When someone sets their mind to something they should never stop until it’s finished.
This is to all those who helped contribute in aiding my Journey into God’s heart. Thank you all very much for everything you have done for me and my fellow youths.
Triennium has most definitely impacted my life. I didn’t think I would come home thinking and acting differently than before. At Triennium, I was given the opportunity to worship Jesus with over 5000 other kids that I’ve never even met before. It still amazes me that there were so many Presbyterians that were just like me there.
During small groups, I was able to really connect with about 25 other teenagers. We would do icebreakers and talk about whatever was on our minds. It was a great time to actually get to meet people from all across the world. I was glad to meet the people in my small groups because it’s almost a “sigh of relief” to realize that you’re not the only one who is still questioning some things. The small groups allowed relationships to form that will last a lifetime.
Triennium has most definitely impacted my life already. After the first day of Triennium, I had realized that signing up was the best decision I had ever made. All of the teenagers were so nice and welcoming, and it was so easy to start conversations with others. Spending a week around these kind of people has taught me to do the same. I can already tell that I’ve been nicer to people and that I’ve been talking to more people and engaging in conversations.
Overall, Triennium has changed my life. It has helped me realize that I’m not the only person in the world who is wondering about their faith. I’ve met so many amazing people and some of them I plan to stay connected to.
Triennium is definitely one of the best experiences that everyone should have the opportunity to try.
July 16-20th, 2013 was probably one of the best and most life changing weeks of my life.
On the last day, the worship service was pretty life changing. Sing “Fix You” by Coldplay with five thousand other people defiantly was changing. Another life changing experience was when we sang the song with the lyrics “Lord You are Good and Your mercy endures forever”. That gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes.
If I had the opportunity to go again, I would, but I won’t be able to go. But I would suggest to any of the youth who are able to go in 2016 to go, because it is one of those once in a lifetime experiences.
This was a great experience and I’m so blessed I got the chance to go!
Triennium was the best experience I ever had! It introduced me to a new environment. Before Triennium I wasn’t really comfortable about talking about my faith to others especially kids my age. Not only did Triennium bring me closer to God, it brought me closer to the people in my presbytery.
Triennium was so fun, but that week something tragic happened within my family. The group that I came to Triennium with, supported me the whole way. When I was sad they would be right by my side comforting me. So did all my new friends that I met in small group and just walking around.
At Triennium my life changed spiritually and morally. Because of Triennium I now have a “family” full of people that truly care about me from all over the country. I just hope that in 3 years I can go back and have another amazing experience. 🙂
I really didn’t know what to expect to happen at the Triennium. When we got on the bus I felt a lot a lot excitement on the bus ride alone. I started to wonder if this is what it was like on the bus what would it be like when we finally got there.
When we got there I was amazed by how many youth there were. After the first day, we got into small groups with a bunch of people we didn’t know. We did activities about parts of the Bible. They were pretty fun. By the end of the week we got really close and we knew we were going to miss each other.
The main thing that surprised me was the worship services. All of the five thousand kids there worshiping God was amazing. The service was different from home it was all excitement from beginning to the end. The excitement was pretty much gone on the bus ride home. Most of us are going to miss all the people we met while we were there.
One thing to say though is that this Triennium was one of the greatest experiences of my life and if I was able to go again I definitely would.
It would be hard to actually show our churches what we have brought back and learned because we are from a different generation than most people in our congregation. Most of the stuff we learned would mainly reflect on kids our age.
Thank you Steve for taking your time of to be with us as our advisor.
Oh my gosh! The balcony is shaking!
These were my thoughts at the very first worship service. Sounds pretty crazy, huh? Well it was. But it was the best kind of crazy I have ever experienced. From the tree house to the hammock prayer center, I had so much fun.
Triennium was truly focused on praising God in the most engaging ways possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I was pretty scared when I saw a three hour worship service every day, but I really wish they had been longer. These worship services were so much fun it felt like they were only fifteen minutes long. The sermons were my favorite part. They provided inspiration through many different points of view and really made me think about how I was living my life.
The people there were even more amazing! I have a naturally outgoing personality that everyone there enjoyed and embraced. No one was ever left out or felt alone. After only a few hours they became my family. We enjoyed games and scripture lessons with people who lived thousands of miles away from us as if they were our next door neighbors. Within our small groups we created everlasting friendships. Everyone accepted each other for who they really were not based on age, race, or sexual orientation. Triennium was a safe place to be who you really are without fear of being judged or put down. A place full of encouragement and laughter. The college campus was full of people I will never forget.
During free time, there was a prayer center and a chill out spot provided. In the hammock there were many different stations of prayer such as a labyrinth or a photo booth with friends. Okay some of them were a little less prayerful than others but they all made a lasting impact. When we had finished each prayer station we received a bead to put onto a string to create a bracelet or bookmark.
In the chill out spot, called the tree house, (although it wasn’t an actual tree house) there were a lot of different stands set up to learn about different mission projects and ways to help the community (they gave out free stuff to get you interested). There was a giant game of Jenga and even a giant board game where you were the playing pieces! Or you could just sit on a bean bag chair and hang out with your new friends.
Each delegation brought a pin to represent who they were and throughout the conference everyone traded pins. It almost became a friendly competition to see who could get the most pins or the best pins. There was even a post on twitter (just to be funny) that said “Not sure if you’re being nice to me because you want to be my friend, or you just want my pin.” There were all sorts of pins from ones that you could actually eat to ones that were made from ping pong balls. One of the favorites had a cowboy version of Jesus on it! Each time we traded a pin we made a new friend.
I felt the Holy Spirit all 5760 minutes I was at Purdue University. There was always an opportunity to see and feel God. This experience has taught me so much. I have taken a huge step in my faith journey and now know how I am supposed to live a Christian life. My mission now is to take this experience and use it to show others what God has shown me.
Last week I went on a trip that changed my life forever. Triennium was the best experience. The community was amazing. Everyone was so nice!
I went into this thinking I knew exactly how everything was going to work because my sister had told me about her experience, but I was way off. I had no idea what I was getting into. I made so many friends from all over the country and even here in my own back yard. Before Triennium I felt so alone, now I have no reason to. I have 5,000+ people I can lean on. That is a great feeling to have.
Worship was breathtaking, to see so many Presbyterians, my age, all there for the same reason, to worship God. I served communion the one night. I must have served over 100 people and what I noticed is that everyone took a different amount of bread and juice. . . what they need. In other words, everybody needs different amounts of God. Some need more than others but there is plenty to go around.
The theme was I Am. I thought it was very fitting considering a lot of us are going to college soon and still do not know who they are or what they are called to do. The theme I Am got me thinking on what I am being called to do. I went to the college fair the one day and talked to many colleges and seminaries. As I was talking to some of the seminaries it came to me, youth leader. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe God has a completely different plan for me but I think I’m going to go for it.
Thank you for sending me on this trip. It helped me realize that I am not alone and made me think about who I Am.
This was my first Triennium, so I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as we arrived at Purdue, I was so amazed by the amount of people there. Living with 5,000 other Presbyterians for a week was such an unforgettable experience! Everyone was so nice and it was fun to get to know where everyone was from.
Worship was especially fun for me. I loved the energizers and the speakers for the sermons. There was so much energy in the room during worship!
I also loved my small group! I liked how no one knew anyone at the beginning of the week, but we got so close by the end of the week. I loved the I Am movie too; it was a really good documentary and I thought it connected to the theme of the week really well. I loved the theme I Am for the week. I didn’t really think about who I am or who God is before Triennium, but now I have a really good understanding of who I am and who God is.
Overall, Triennium was an amazing experience. Please continue to send youth to Triennium! It was the highlight of my summer and I would love to do it all over again if I could!