December 2020 News Perspective Online

Perkins School of Youth Ministry

“Uncommon Wisdom for Uncommon Times” is the prescient theme for the 2021 Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM) which takes place virtually January 11-14, 2021.  For a preview, read here or see the original press release below.


Registration is open through Dec. 4 for the 2021 Perkins School of Youth Ministry (PSYM), January 11-14, 2021, a four-day educational gathering for youth ministers. In past years, the event was held on the campus of SMU and at Highland Park United Methodist Church, but this year’s event will take place virtually.

PSYM 2021’s theme, “Uncommon Wisdom for Uncommon Times,” was chosen last April.

“When our design team met, we were just one month into a global pandemic and the national response to Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor was just beginning,” said Bart Patton, Perkins Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education “The idea of seeking God for wisdom emerged. That theme has become more and more relevant since April: God, we need wisdom!”

In light of the virtual format, Patton said, organizers of the event have “totally reimagined the schedule,” with new content, new and creative approaches to music and worship, and plenty of time built in for breaks, family and work. The four days of the conference will follow a rhythm, with gatherings in the morning, midday, and evening for worship, study and reflection.

“I think we’ll have some of the best modules we’ve ever offered at PSYM this year, with new voices, new leaders, and even some surprises,” he said.

For the second year in a row, the PSYM will offer the option of attending a Mental Health First Aid training module to earn certification in that area.  Other workshop tracks will focus on racism, adaptive leadership (maintaining leadership through cultural change), planning and organization.

Under the direction of the Office of External Programs at Perkins School of Theology at SMU, PSYM coordinates training programs to support those in the church whose ministries focus on youth and young adults. PSYM has been engaging and equipping youth workers every January since 1988.

Patton emphasized that, while youth leaders cannot gather in person this year, it’s more important than ever to set aside time for learning and mutual support. At PSYM, attendees will have opportunities to gather in a virtual lobby for informal conversation and idea-sharing.  And there will be swag — participants can choose to receive a virtual kit, through the mail, with a PSYM branded memo pad, pen, stickers and other items.

“Our youth ministers have spent the last year giving, virtually,” he said. “They are tired. Our hope is that they will be able to receive, virtually, through year’s PSYM program.”

“As we always emphasize, PSYM is not merely a conference,” said Patton. “We’re a school for youth ministry. We strive to foster a robust community of learning where every youth worker is empowered to share their experiences, contexts, successes, and failures.”