In an effort to provide more effective and consistent ministry and networking among youth and young adults, members of the Holy Synod unanimously adopted the implementation of a new Church-wide youth ministry effort for the Orthodox Church in America.
The new OCA Youth movement will be deanery-based and utilize youth ministry team appointed by their respective diocesan hierarchs. The teams will be responsible for conducting one retreat, one service project, and one fellowship event each year while focusing on an annual theme chosen by the Holy Synod.
In addition, each region will conduct or participate in a local Orthodox summer camp or rally. Pictures from these events will be posted on the OCA’s youth and young adult website
http://yya.oca.org. The OCA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries also will conduct online discussions on the topics in its youth chat room.
Each deanery youth ministry team will consist of two - three adults and one - two youths. Programs will be coordinated with the OCA’s existing youth organizations, including the American Romanian Orthodox Youth (AROY) and the Junior Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America (Jr FOCA) while utilizing the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries’ resources and capabilities. Ideally, deanery team members will come from different parishes to provide more ownership for the activities. In those deaneries where deanery-wide youth gatherings may be difficult, team members will be encouraged to organize at least one “traveling event” and coordinating the other activities on the parish level.
With the assistance of diocesan youth directors, the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries will develop retreat outlines and discussion guides on the selected annual theme. The outlines will be distributed to deanery and diocesan contacts and posted on the OCA website every August.
The purpose for implementing this effort is to establish the importance of our Church’s youth ministry efforts and to provide consistent opportunities for youth to participate in gatherings that foster their ongoing spiritual growth and integration in the the life and ministry of the Church.
The OCA Youth movement creates a new environment for our Church’s youth ministry efforts. No longer is youth ministry to be viewed as an “option” for a region; it is now an expectation of the Church. No longer should there be questions about the responsibilities of a regional youth coordinator, since the task of each youth ministry team is clearly outlined. No longer will people need to scramble to find resources, since they will be made available each year. And no longer will regional efforts break down when a single person, for whatever reason, is no longer able to organize them; there will be team of people who can pick up from where they left off. Finally, this approach helps to eliminate the feelings of isolation that youth often feel in their parish, since they will know that their hierarchs are thinking about them and that youth from across the Church are all focusing on a common goal and theme.
The theme selected by the Holy Synod for 2002-2003 is “Jesus Christ: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”