More than 5,000 teenagers from across the country and beyond will gather for the 2013 Presbyterian Youth Triennium to delve into Jesus' "I AM" statements from July 16 to 20 at Purdue University in Indiana, the Presbyterian Church (USA) said.
"What a great thing, some five thousand Presbyterian youth getting a week of immersion in the faith community and gospel," said PCUSA's Evangelism Ministries coordinator Ray Jones in a statement. "Imagine the impact on the church of youth and adults together getting a sense of what it means to be a disciple and follower of Jesus."
The Evangelism Ministries includes Ministries with Youth, which is responsible for planning and implementation of the Triennium, an event that seeks to connect youth and adults with activities that inspire them to be alert, active and seek ways to connect their lives with their growing faith through presentations, studies, recreational events and mission experiences.
"We anticipated 4,200 participants, hoped for more, and are really pleased and amazed to have 5,200-plus!" said Triennium director Gina Yeager-Buckley. "There are so many options for youth, especially in the summer. That they would take a week to come together with so many new brothers and sisters, friends and leaders - we are so grateful and praying for a time of inspiration and deep impact."
The theme for the event is Jesus' "I AM" statements. "This theme is all about identity - what Jesus reveals about himself, the identity of God, and our identity as children of God - and our response to it," said Bill Buchanan, co-coordinator for Triennium's Worship Ministry Team. "We pray that Presbyterian youth will hear God saying to them, 'I AM with you. I AM calling you, preparing a place and path for you, challenging you to be my eyes, hands, and feet in the world.'"
The event will feature several preachers, including the Rev. Claudio Carvalhaes, the Rev. Theresa Cho, the Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush, the Rev. Stan Wood, and the Rev. Jay Earhart-Brown.
The participants will include youth from Presbyterian churches around the world. "We have 50 youth from 15 different countries," said Lacey Gilliam, coordinator of Global Partner, which is responsible for global participation at the event. "Certainly for both American youth and those coming from other countries - many for the first time - it will deepen their understanding of their place and call in the world, how in Christ we are all connected."
In May 2011, PCUSA became the fourth Protestant denomination in America to give the ordination rights to openly gay and lesbian clergy by ratifying a constitutional amendment. Months later, the denomination ordained its first openly gay minister in Madison, Wis. Several congregations and individuals have parted ways with the denomination since then.