WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – During this year’s Triennium, Neal Presa, moderator of the 220th PC(USA) General Assembly led an open discussion group called “Thinking, Praying, Living the Faith Gangnam-Style” on engaging Reformed faith in a 21st century world.
Presa’s session was one of several “identity group” gatherings held July 18. They were designed to serve as informal, conversational-style discussions for participants to interactively explore how faith engages the modern world.
Presa opened his discussion asking participants what they believe is wrong the world. Referring to the TV series “The Walking Dead,” he explained sociology studies that find increased portrayal of vampires and zombies in media to be reflective of anxiety and other life-sucking problems in society.
Presa spent the majority of the session’s time pushing the gathering’s participants to understand what unique gifts the Reformed tradition can offer the world. He asked, “what is it about the ascension that is so key to salvation and reconciliation?” Focusing on the tensions Presbyterians live in (authority/freedom and certainty/mystery), Presa urged the youth to recognize the certainty of both Christ’s absence and presence through the sending of the Holy Spirit. In the in-betweenness of times before Christ returns, proper worship can be offered through the assurance of the Spirit. The sovereignty of God allows the mystery and the tension to exist, with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Closing the session, Presa focused on everyone’s interdependence and God’s delight in that connection in big and small ways. One participant said, “I sense optimism. We are to delight in God and to look at the entire picture.” Presa smiled and concluded, “We are not optimistic, but we are hopeful!”
The term “Gangnam-Style” in Presa’s title refers to a song and music video by the South Korean musician Psy and their impact on popular culture.
A collaborative effort between the PC(USA) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Triennium is held every three years at Purdue University. Participants are high school age youth from around the country and a number of international partners. This year’s Triennium was held July 16-20.