Over 200 young adults attending the annual Christmas conference at Antiochian Village here during the last week of December 2009 listened intently as His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah challenged them to “shatter the idols” worshiped by today’s society.
“The gods so many have been taught about don’t exist,” Metropolitan Jonah said in his keynote address, adding that only by surrendering to Jesus Christ can the true meaning of life be discovered.
“By becoming vessels of God’s will, we actively cooperate with God, allowing Him to work through us to bring others to salvation,” Metropolitan Jonah told the students. “For example, think about your friends who went to war and are now experiencing difficulties in their lives. How can you reach out to them? With love and compassion.”
Metropolitan Jonah also touched on the importance of maintaining a serious prayer life, the centrality of the resurrection as “the lens through which we see everything,” the importance of engaging non-Orthodox Christian peers in exploring the faith, and the need for outreach ministries and mission work.
“In the end, however, it’s all about salvation,” Metropolitan Jonah stated. “We have a wonderful gift, but we must share it.”
OCA clergy conducting workshops on aspects of the conference theme, “Building Community,” included the Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, dean emeritus of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary; the Priest Moses Berry, Ash Grove, MO; and the Priest Martin Kraus, East Meadow, NY. Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak of the OCA Department of Youth, Young Adults, and Campus Ministries also was in attendance.
After the conference, many of the students traveled to Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA, to celebrate the beginning of the new year in prayer and fellowship at the invitation of Mother Christophora and the sisterhood.
Sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, an agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas, the annual conference attracted students from the Orthodox Church in America and several other jurisdictions. A similar conference was held concurrently on the west coast.