AUSTIN, Texas – The 11th Annual Orthodox Christian Camp & Youth Worker Conference took place at the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Austin, Texas January 24-26. Over 100 youth workers from around the United States and Bahamas assembled for this three-day conference hosted by the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. This year’s theme was “Shine Forth: Helping our Orthodox Youth Follow and Represent Christ.”
Father Apostolos Hill, of St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Prescott, Ariz., offered the keynote address. He distilled his years of pastoral experience into a talk that urged his listeners to maintain a focus on the transformative power of Christ. He stressed an “openness to the truly broken” as essential to any true Christian ministry, however, he was careful to note that a youth worker cannot open a young person’s eyes to the Gospel without attempting to live it oneself. He stated that “you cannot push a rope;” just as a rope is used to pull a person towards oneself, a youth worker needs to be grounded in Christ so he can pull a young person towards Him. He also cautioned that a parish’s budget, both of time and money, says a lot about its priorities, and that these are messages our youth absorb. Finally, he insisted that a call to service is a necessary part of youth ministry: no matter how effectively we educate young people, if we do not engage them then they will disconnect from Christ and His Church.
Friday featured workshops led by youth workers from various jurisdictions. Subjects included keeping our college aged young adults connected to Christ and His Church to protecting our youth.
Fr. Jason Roll, Director of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, left the conference enthused. “It’s great to see old and new faces developing their talents together and sharing best practices with one another. We put our heads together and came up with some great ideas while cementing crucial ties with our fellow youth workers.”
The Ukrainian and Carpatho-Russian Churches will host the next conference, slated for January of 2014. The conference provides an arena for Orthodox youth workers from different jurisdictions to share and provide resources. All Orthodox parish and diocese youth workers, camp directors and staff, and OCF chaplains are invited to attend.
To contact the Archdiocese Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries call (646) 519-6780.