OCA represented at National Festival of Young Preachers

Festival Young Preachers
Brian Cheney and OCA Youth Director Andrew Boyd at Festival.

The Orthodox Church in America again was represented at the National Festival of Young Preachers January 2-5, 2014.  The theme of this year’s conference, which brings together young people from across the Christian traditions, was “Questions of the Soul.”

“We are so pleased to work with the Academy of Young Preachers and their National Festival again,” said Andrew Boyd, OCA Youth Director.  “It’s an amazing opportunity for us to witness to the depth and the beauty of our tradition and to sharpen and hone our apologetic and rhetorical skills.”  Andrew delivered a sermon, “Do You Want to be Healed?” on John 5:1-15.

Accompanying Andrew was Brian Cheney, a parishioner of Saint Mary Magdalene Church, New York, NY, and winner of the OCA Youth Department’s 2013 YouTube Challenge.  Brian preached on the question, “What Shall Be the Sign of Thy Coming?  And of the End of the World?’ based on Matthew 24:2-3.

“Getting a chance to preach at the Festival of Young Preachers is an experience I won’t soon forget,” said Brian.  “The event had so many great aspects, like top-notch sermon coaching, enlightening feedback from peers, and a time for fellowship with other committed, Christian, young adults. Without a doubt, my skills have definitely improved.”

Brian and Andrew were joined by Priest Sergius Halvorsen, Professor of Homiletics and Rhetoric at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY, and Priest Gabriel Alemaheyu of the Ethiopian Church, a seminarian, who also preached.  Father Sergius was available to mentor and led a workshop on sacramental preaching.  In addition, Priest Lucas Rice of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America and an Academy of Preachers alum, delivered a sermon to the entire festival during one of the plenary sessions.

“The ability to articulate their faith in intelligent and meaningful ways in the most important skill we can teach our young adults,” concluded Andrew.  “They, like all of us, are called to preach the Gospel of the Risen Lord through the deafening noise of secularism, ideology, celebrity worship and social media.  I’m so thankful to the Academy of Preachers for their excellent programs and for their hospitality to us as Orthodox Christians.”