Austin Seminary has acquired Progressive Youth Ministry (PYM), a conference and community of church-based youth workers from across North America. Founded in 2014, PYM had a successful five-year run of conferences, experiencing significant growth and highlighted by speakers including Rob Bell, Otis Moss III, and Lauren Winner. Through the pandemic, PYM gathered virtually, creating a robust and supportive community of more than 3,000 members online with 200 to 400 participants at its annual conference.
“We are absolutely thrilled to pass the baton to Austin Seminary,” said PYM co-founder Tony Jones. “After conversations with President Irizarry and Professor [Andrew] Zirschky, we are confident that Austin will not only curate excellent conferences but also will expand PYM’s offerings in ways that will benefit thousands of youth pastors.”
The Seminary hopes to present an online conference in Spring 2024 and return to an in-person conference later that year. In addition, plans are afoot to add podcasts, curricula, books, and more. Believing PYM is a natural fit for Austin Seminary, given its growing youth ministry degree program, President José R. Irizarry said, “In pursuing our vision to raise and support the ‘new generation of Christians,’ this acquisition will allow us to put ourselves at the forefront of youth ministry on the national stage. We look forward to engaging these important partnerships in years to come as we widen our place to create spaces where new forms of ministry and leadership can be explored and empowered.”
“This ground-breaking acquisition of PYM is a great example of how academia can directly engage with and impact the wider ministry community,” said Professor Andrew Zirschky, director of the Seminary’s MAYM program. “This puts the Seminary at the center of transformative change within youth ministry nationwide.” The transition will take place immediately, with Jones serving as a consultant for three years. Initial funding for the program is provided by a New Initiatives Grant from In Trust Center for Theological Schools.