Organizers for Presbyterian Youth Triennium have announced their theme for the 2016 event, with one word—“GO.” 

“We felt God leading us to help some 5,000 young people take their next steps of faith,” says Gina Yeager-Buckley, Triennium director and associate for Ministries with Youth in the Presbyterian Mission Agency

“To focus not on the event itself, which we like to call ‘the greatest five days,’ but on what happens to them after the Triennium, as they ‘GO’ back into the world.” 

From opening worship on, the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium will explore “GO” in a daily “thematic mapping” through various experiences of people in scripture, such as: 

  • The shepherds in Luke 2:8-30 who were terrified when the angel told them to “GO and see” the savior who had been born, 
  • The lawyer in Luke 10:25-37 who was encouraged by Jesus to “GO and do likewise,” in the parable of the Good Samaritan, 
  • King David in Psalm 32 confessing his failures, and then knowing the joy of God’s forgiveness, he discerns and is taught “the Way I Should GO,” 
  • Moses in Exodus 3-7 (which means “to go”) advocating for justice again and again— demanding Pharaoh, who held the Israelites captive in slavery, to “Let My People G0,”  
  • And the disciples in Matthew 28:16-20.  Even as some doubted what they had seen regarding the resurrection, Jesus came to them on the mountain commanding that they be a part of “God’s great GO-mission” —of GOing into the world and making disciples. 

Yeager-Buckley says each of the four Triennium ministry teams for 2016(Worship, Small Groups/Recreation, Community Life, and Administration), has an “impact person” specifically looking for ways to drive home the “GO” message. 

Ironically, the Triennium team put into practice some of its daily “thematic mapping” for “GO” during the recent controversy over the passage of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act—and its eventual amendment to adequately ensure protection against discrimination. 

The first triennium was held in 1980 at Indiana University, but from 1983 on, they’ve been at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. 

“Through a webinar, we presented information to the Leadership Committee of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board,” says Yeager-Buckley, “working through some of the theological issues with them around our theme “GO”—as it related to staying or leaving.” 

Eventually, in light of Indiana’s legislative action to revise the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, the Leadership Committee recommended, and the board approved at its spring meeting, “to reaffirm holding the 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue.” 

“The state’s quick action to amend this law encourages us to believe we can continue our long relationship with Purdue,” the statement read.  “Further, we commend the University for publicly assuring its unwavering commitment to nondiscrimination.” 

The Leadership Committee statement (Action Item 2.D) also commended the Mission Agency staff “for its sensitivity to this politically charged issue,” while “working behind the scenes to ensure the youth and adults who attend Triennium have a safe and welcoming place to worship and witness to the love of Christ.” 

The 2016 Presbyterian Youth Triennium, which is sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches, will be held from July 19-23.  Registration for the event will begin late 2015/early 2016.