The Orthodox Church in America relies on the stewardship of its faithful to support ministries in communities across America and around the world. As the Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America Annual Appeal approaches on November 19, 2017, David Lucs, in the article below, writes about how the Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry has been able to strengthen the life of our children with the generous support of the Church’s dedicated Stewards.
Young people today face serious challenges to their personal faith in and relationship with Jesus Christ much earlier than previous generations. Social and technological influences quickly and subtly reshape what they believe, becoming trusted sources of truth while parents and clergy get left out of crucial conversations in their lives.
What Orthodox Christian teens and young adults hear from friends and society varies widely—and sometimes runs counter to the teachings of our Orthodox Christian faith. The more difficult or personal the topic, the more a young person is likely to see the Church as irrelevant and out of touch. And that’s why we’re rigorously developing initiatives to help young people remain engaged in the life of the Orthodox Church in America.
We’ll soon be launching the “I Am Orthodox” initiative—a web-based platform that will engage young people through videos, reflections and curated content from—and for—Orthodox youth. We will use social media to meet young people where they are, answering their questions and reminding them that their parish community is a place to call home, a place where they can always feel welcome, safe and loved.
The Divine Liturgy is foundational to our Orthodox faith, so we’re producing a “Teaching Liturgy” video with lessons and resources for independent and classroom study. It’s important to illustrate how our personal life in Christ begins with the Liturgy, gathered in communion, nourishing us for our daily lives as we connect with neighbors, friends, classmates, co-workers and family to be examples of Christian love in the world.
We’re also busy planning for next year’s 19th All-American Council in St. Louis, which will provide our youth with an opportunity to meet their peers in an atmosphere of worship, fellowship, education and service to the Church. The camp-like program will not only engage them in the life of the Church, but will allow them to meet young people from across North America.
Expanding on the previous Council’s call to “expand the Mission,” we are launching the Orthodox Youth Ambassador program to make it possible for young people from Alaska and Mexico to participate in the Council. It is our hope that in providing this opportunity to our youth, they will return to their communities with the confidence to live as Orthodox Christians united “for the life of the world.”
These initiatives address the core of Orthodox Christianity in North America, drawing the Church to the center of a young person’s life. Our goal is to help young people make connections in the Church and to celebrate their rich diversity of traditions and customs while residing within the unity of our Orthodox Christian faith. We are committed to meeting young people where they are in life, and to helping them stay connected to and engaged with Jesus Christ through His holy Church.
The support of our Stewards of the Orthodox Church in America makes it possible for us to bring quality resources, programs and events to the young people of our Church. The results last generations!
—David Lucs, Chair, Department of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministry