Registration is now open for the 2022 Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM), a four-day educational gathering for youth ministers taking place January 10-13, 2022. Last year’s event was held virtually, but this year PSYM returns in-person to Highland Park United Methodist Church, near the campus of SMU, in time for its 35th anniversary.

PSYM 2022’s theme is “Finding Forward.”

“We think that moving forward is best done in a learning community,” said Bart Patton, Director of the Office of External Programs at Perkins and the event’s organizer. “We hope the program will spark attendees’ imaginations as they envision the future, together, as a community. We’re always better together.”

Participants may choose from two main tracks: Foundations (for those who are still in their first two years of ministry) or Workshops (for those who’ve completed Foundations). Perkins’ Certification in Practical Ministry in Youth Ministry program will also take place concurrently during the same week.

Patton noted that this year’s schedule is somewhat different. In the past, attendees selected three workshops; this year they will select two, allowing more time for focused, intensive learning.  More time is also allotted for attendees to connect with each other.  The program will offer both practical, specific training as well as more theoretical offerings, such as courses in John Wesley’s views on spiritual formation in youth and on taking creative risks.

Many PSYM participants attend year after year; some have attended annually for almost all of the program’s 35 years. This year, program organizers will award collectible pins to repeat attendees denoting the number of years they’ve attended.

Many favorite instructors also return every year. Terry Parsons, a Dallas psychotherapist and ordained United Methodist minister, has taught a module on mental health at every one of the PSYM gatherings for the past 35 years.   He’ll return in 2022 to lead a workshop entitled “Ministering in the Age of Anxiety.”

After two years that posed many challenges to youth ministers due to COVID-19, Patton hopes that PSYM will help youth ministers look to the future.

“For every struggle we’ve endured over the past two years, we’ve also been offered new opportunities,” Patton said. “This is about finding forward together with honesty, excitement and imagination. And as we always emphasize, PSYM is not merely a conference. We’re a school for youth ministry.”