More than 4,400 youth who picked up hope last week have been urged to share their hope with teen mothers, the hungry, and the rest of the world.
The Presbyterian Youth Triennium concluded Sunday with thousands cheering for God after five days of worship, drama and inspiring messages.
"[W]hen you go back home and give Christ's hope to people, the world is going to be blessed," closing worship preacher Perryn Rice told the participating students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., according to the Presbyterian News Service.
Rice urged the young crowd to take the message of Christ's hope to "teenage mothers who are ready to give up, to crack addicts and the incarcerated and the exonerated, to the underachiever and the overachiever, to the homeless and the hungry."
Days before students broke out in excitement and applause on the concluding day, the young attendees took part in a massive prayer vigil where Mark Yaconelli of Youth Specialties encouraged silent reflection and meditation.
Yaconelli reminded the students that they are God's hope in the world as he encouraged prayers for healing, for those suffering with disease or depression, for victims of war and for broken families.
"If you want to see Gods hope in the world, look around. You are it. See through the eyes of love, respond with the heart of Christ, and hope is born," he told them on Friday, according to PNS.
In his closing message, Rice pointed to the cross of Jesus Christ as a symbol of hope and told the youth, "Theres only one thing to do.
Go back home and scream: Theres a man that told me everything about me, all the dirt, and then offered me new life. Come see him for yourself!
The Presbyterian Youth Triennium came as baptisms of young people have been declining in the PC(USA). A 2006 church report showed that baptisms among children have gone down from 35,237 in 2003 to 30,493 in 2006 among children and 10,174 to 8,297 among adults. And in 2001, the percentage of ministers under the age of 40 made up less than 10 percent of the entire PC(USA). The percentage was much lower for other mainline denominations such as the United Methodist Church in which a 2005 report showed that less than 5 percent of the church's leadership were ages 35 or under.
The July 17-22 triennium was themed "hope is in our midst."