I thank all of those who made my attendance, and that of the youth and my fellow adult leaders at Triennium 2016 possible. While there, I deepened my sense of call and found a number of ways to help others. I experienced the Holy Spirit in many places; at worship, in prayer, in small groups, in our delegation group, on the long walks to and from events, at table, and in the Prayer Center. I learned two new scripture study methods and will use them in my own study and worship preparation. I’m especially grateful to Christy for inviting me to chaperone; she is a wonderful and gracious leader for us. Her attention to detail made our trip and attendance possible. Thank you, Shannan, for covering media for us.
We realize that it takes a lot of resources to put on Triennium; time, treasure, congregations loaning their pastor for a “non-vacation” week; not to mention the opportunities that Triennium supersedes. It’s easier to show the costs contributed by the individual congregations of Albany Presbytery, the Albany Presbytery itself, the Synod of the Northeast, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency than to show a dollar value of return on investment. Yes, I say investment, because that is what you have made in us and the youth.
While I can’t show you a dollar return, let me tell you about our experience. We traveled, day and night, to a far-off land that became our home for five days and four nights. There we met and interacted with literally thousands of other Presbyterian youth. Back in our Presbytery of Albany churches, our youth seldom encounter other Presbyterians. They are a minority; they interact with Roman Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, even Buddhists. They rarely, if ever, see that they are part of a larger, connectional church. This week, however, our young people experienced our denomination on a level that few of our grown-up members, even our church leaders, get to. Some of our youth participated in seminars for Young Adult Volunteers; two are interested in exploring this service. They participated in small groups; in prayer and reading scripture in fun ways with two dozen peers, finding that they had similar embarrassing moments, doubts, questions about what faith in Jesus Christ means. I can’t say we answered all their questions, cast out all their doubts, or saved them from embarrassing moments. What we did do was assist them with finding and employing the tools of our faith: prayer, bible study, Christian service, gathering together, loving neighbors, praying for enemies, and being disciples. The theme was, “Go”, and we have done that and more. Whatever hardships we endured on the journey and at work and play during the week were minor compared with the memories that were made; the tears, the laughter, the joy, and the excitement that we experienced together. These will last long after the journey, perhaps summoning back a former youth member when times are tough. I know my church experiences as a youth called me back when I had parted with the church, years before, and my life had gone to a place where I didn’t know what to do or where to go. It was the love of Christ that I rediscovered, as an adult, that I came to realize had been with me all along. This scripture reminded me of my life’s experience:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” ~2 Timothy 3:14-15
We know you have many choices where to put the resources of the Presbytery. We urge, exhort, and plead that it is long considered before diverting resources from our youth in general and Triennium participation specifically.
We’re on our way home now so, as Rev. Dr. Perryn Rice said, “Gotta go!”