More than five thousand participants—5,241 as of July 9 and counting—will gather for next week’s 2013 Presbyterian Youth Triennium, held July 16–20 at Purdue University. 

“What a great thing, some five thousand Presbyterian youth getting a week of immersion in the faith community and gospel,” says Evangelism Ministries coordinator Ray Jones, of which Ministries with Youth is a part.“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 Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Ministries with Youth is the program team responsible for planning and implementation of Triennium.  They began planning for this event in May of 2011.

“We anticipated 4,200 participants, hoped for more, and are really pleased and amazed to have 5,200-plus!” says Gina Yeager-Buckley, associate for ministries with youth and Triennium director. “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.”

Those gathered at Triennium will spend the week delving into Jesus’ “I AM” statements. Teenagers, together with their adult leaders, will consider their calling to be agents of the gospel—agents of compassion, healing, and service.

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,” says 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.’”

Adds Triennium Youth Production Team member Julie Poe, “This I AM theme is so conducive for us teenagers. We’re at a time in our lives when we’re trying figure out who we are, who God is, and how God works in our lives.”

Teenagers will be figuring that out with youth from Presbyterian churches around the world through Triennium’s Global Partner program

“We have 50 youth from 15 different countries,” says Global Partner coordinator Lacey Gilliam. “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.”

Other Triennium highlights that organizers believe will deepen the impact of this spiritual experience on Presbyterian youth and the church, include:

A first-ever Triennium leadership development track for adult youth workers (both volunteers and professional youth ministry leaders). More than 300 have opted for this track, where they will engage in foundation ministry practices and upcoming ideas and trends.

A series of gatherings called Identity Groups covering a range of ministry opportunities for Presbyterian youth, including “Transformational Leadership in the Church for Youth” led by Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) moderator Neal Presa and “Ruling Elders Who Are Youth” led by Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and Martha Miller, coordinator for ruling elders.

Among the 5,241 participants, who come from just about every PC(USA) presbytery and congregation around the country, are 50 young adults who paid their way to be on the Work Crew at Triennium.

Preachers for Triennium include the Rev. Claudio Carvalhaes, the Rev. Theresa Cho, the Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush, the Rev. Stan Wood, and the Rev. Jay Earhart-Brown. Also leading in worship is the drama team Many Voices based in Asheville, N.C.