From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 11:51:04


                         By Julian Shipp 
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.--Summer's intense heat couldn't stifle the enthusiasm 
of nearly 6,000 young Presbyterians from all over the United States, Canada 
and the world as they shared their common bond through Jesus Christ at the 
record-breaking 1995 Presbyterian Youth Triennium at Purdue University. 
     According to officials, 5,901 youths attended the July 25-30 event, 
the most in Triennium history. Held every three years, the Triennium is 
designed as a growth experience for the mind, heart and soul of 
Presbyterians age 15-19 and adult advisors in every presbytery. The 
Triennium is co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the 
Presbyterian Church in Canada and Cumberland Presbyterian Churches. 
     "What keeps me coming back year after year is seeing all these people 
representing Christ's body," said Lisa Stine, a Triennium design team 
member from Portland, Ore. (Cascades Presbytery).  "I've never seen it 
anywhere else in my life represented so clearly." 
     "The worship services were unbelievable -- you wouldn't believe that 
worship could have something like that from regular worship services," said 
Jaclyn LaWanda Smith, from New Orleans, La.  (South Louisiana Presbytery). 
"The speakers really did a good job of keeping our attention. 
     "I think that [church leaders] realize that they don't have enough 
young people in the churches," Smith said. "And they're beginning to 
realize that if they want to keep them there they've got to give them 
something to do." 
     In keeping with the Triennium theme "And The Walls Came Tumbling 
Down," taken from Ephesians 2: 13-14, participants were challenged to tear 
down the barriers that keep young Christians from God through skits, 
messages from preachers, music and interaction through close-knit peer 
     Daily activities at the Triennium included worship, Bible study, small 
group meetings, workshop seminars, recreation, concerts and other special 
events custom-tailored to teens. 
     For example, participants were treated to an infectious series of 
dance moves, and pop and traditional worship songs each morning during 
"energizers" conducted by Lynn Turnage of Black Mountain, N.C.; Juan 
Travino of Rockdale, Texas: Sharon J. Willis, of Atlanta; and Gus LaZear of 
Northridge, Calif. 
     The multi-dimensional performing arts group "Simple Gifts" from the 
San Francisco area, Veterans of the 1983 and 1992 Triennium, kept things 
interesting through a series of skits and dramatic performances depicting 
the life and times of Jesus. Group members include Cheryl and Mark 
Goodman-Morris and Kristy Logan. 
     And when it came time to get down to serious business, the preachers 
used contemporary themes and imagery in addressing their youthful 
      For example, Mitzi Minor's sermon "So What Is Evil Like, Do You 
Think?," compared the temptations today's young people face to Christ's 
encounter with Satan following 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. 
     "What is whispered in your ear most?  What is your greatest 
temptation?," inquired Minor, assistant professor of New Testament at 
Memphis (Tenn.) Theological Seminary. "I want to suggest that evil is 
carried by many voices, that there are many directions in which we can face 
those things that we are afraid of. Fears that Jesus faced when he carried 
out his gospel." 
     Other speakers included Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., pastor of Riverside 
Church in New York City; the Rev. Linda Ashfield, co-pastor of Knox 
Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, Ontario; and the Rev. Tom Tewell, pastor 
of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. 
     During their leisure time, youths browsed through the Cumberland 
Presbyterian Bookstore from Memphis, Tenn., attended a college/seminary 
fair, gazed at exhibits from all over the world, purchased souveniers and 
gifts, watched movies, and chowed down on pizza and other snack foods 
provided by the university at their residence halls. 
     But with nearly 10 planned recreation options, major fun was the order 
of the day and design team members like Kenneth "Buddy" Morrow from Poland, 
Ohio, (Eastminster Presbytery) were charged with keeping the excitement 
levels higher than the humidity. For his contribution to the Triennium, 
Morrow helped inflate thousands of multi-colored tube balloons and assisted 
teens frolicking in the mud during recreation periods. 
     "I think it's a miracle in itself that people come here every three 
years from all over the world to worship God," Morrow said amidst a sea of 
colorful balloons kept in constant motion by hundreds of teenagers. "You 
always meet new people, even new people [while your traveling] that you 
didn't even know lived close by you. It's really neat." 
     "It was what I expected and more," said Tory Cummings, a first-time 
participant from Baton Rouge, La., (South Lousiana Presbytery). "I wish I 
could have come three years ago because of the unity of everybody just 
being together."  
     Leanne Brower, a first-time Triennium participant from Gallup, New 
Mexico, (Santa Fe Presbytery) said the event was truly a life-changing 
experience for her. 
     "I learned a lot about myself from [my peers]," Brower said. "I want 
to stay in touch with these people for a long time because I feel like I've 
bonded with them and it's pretty cool." 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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