By OCA Department of Youth Young Adult, and Campus Ministry

As part of   your parish’s celebration of International Orthodox Youth Month, take some   time to honor the youth of your community and their ministry in the Church.   The following types of celebration leave a lasting impression with youth that   they are valued within the Church and are a wonderful way to remind everyone   in the parish of what it means to grow in Christ and belong to His Holy Church.

  1. Youth     Survival Kit - Prepare and distribute a “Youth Survival Kit” to     each of the youth in your parish. The “Kit” can include little items that     represent different things. Be sure to include in the “Kit” a sheet with     a title such as “When in doubt or when problems arise, reach for your survival     kit” and that explains all the items. Such lists leave lasting impressions     and become treasured belongings. The list below contains ideas of things     to include. Most items can be found at a local party store or craft store.
        a) Mustard Seed - Have faith of a mustard seed and you can move mountains.     (Matt. 17:20)
        b) Feather - Remember the God of all creation loves you. “Look at the birds     of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your     heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt     6:26-26)
        c) Small Cutout-Felt Heart – “Above all hold unfailing your love for one     another, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4)
        d) A Loose String - “Keep the commandments, and bind them upon your heart     always; tie them about your neck.” (Prov. 6:20-21)
        e) Key Chain - Connect yourself to the Church.
        f) Small Box of Raisins - Don’t wither on the vine; seek your spiritual     food from God through frequent communion.
        g) Small Artificial Flower - Blossom where you are planted.
        h) Rock – “Seek God in times of trouble, He is your rock of refuge, and     a strong fortress.“ (Psalm 71:3)
        i) Craft Jewel – “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown     of life.” (Rev 2:10-11)
        j) Chocolate Coin - Focus on the things of faith, because “where your treasure     is, there also is your heart.” Store up your treasures in Heaven. (Matthew     6:19-21)
        k) Wheat – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into     the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.     He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world     will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-26)
        l) Hershey’s Kiss - Mend your ways, agree with one another, live in peace,     and greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Cor. 13:11 – 12)
        m) Ruler – Measure by God’s standards, not by the world’s standards.
        n) Rubber Band - Be flexible. If God brings you to it, He will bring you     through it.
        o) Toy Compass – When you feel lost, remember that “the Son of man came     to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
  3. Candle     decorated with a ribbon that says “Let Your Light So Shine.”     Present each youth with a candle at the end of Divine Liturgy. Most party     stores can print simple text on ribbons. The candle can be put in their     prayer corner to be lit during the year. Ask the priest to give a short     talk about the important ministry youth have in the Church.
  5. Candle     Cutout Display – Make candle cut outs and have put them in a place     where people can take one and record instances when they see a youth “shine.”     Put them on the wall in a designated spot in the parish’s fellowship area.     Include the heading “Our Youth Shines.”
  7. Get     To Know Our Shining Youth - Take photos of each youth and place     the photos on a decorated page that contains biographical information about     him/her. Ex. Favorite sport, music, interests, favorite family activities,     college aspirations, etc. Place these photos on a bulletin board or on the     walls of the social hall.
  9. Secret     Pals - Have the adults in the parish draw a name of one youth and     let that be their secret pal for the month. Each Sunday have the adult put     a letter or small token in a “mailbox” to be delivered after Liturgy.     At the end of the month, the “pals” are then revealed.
  11. Youth     of the Church - Cut out a very large outline of a church that has     windows that you fold back. Inside the window have photos of the youths.     Add their names and title it something like “Youth, not just our future     but the present” and “let your light so shine.” Put it up on a bulletin     board for the month.
  13. Fellowship     Event – Plan a fellowship event for an evening around a theme such     as: beach/Hawaiian, Disney, the 1950s, western hoe-down, etc.
  15. Old     Fashioned Ice Cream Social – Have an old fashioned ice cream social     in honor of the youth.
  17. Youth     Banquet - Hold a special dinner to honor the youth on Saturday     evening after vespers/vigil. Decorate with the theme “Let Your Light So     Shine” using candles, lights, etc.
  19. “Un-slumber     Party”     - Let the younger children have an “un-slumber” party with popcorn,     movies and pajamas. Give “flashlights” as gifts and let them play     games with them. Be creative!!!
  21. “Know     Your Youth” Crossword Puzzle – Distribute a puzzle to the parish     with clues about youths in the parish (see #4 for ideas - hobbies, church     involvement, etc.). The first person to complete the puzzle correctly wins     a scented or church candle with a card saying, “Let Your Light so Shine.”     Create/distribute a different puzzle each week for a different age group     or church school class.
  23. Glow-in-the-dark     bracelet/necklace – Give each youth a bracelet/necklace and include     a card that says “Let Your Light so Shine.”
  25. How     does your light shine in the Church? - Designate a few tables for     the teens to decorate with items that represent what they would like the     parish to know about themselves. For example it could have clues representing     how their light shines in school and in church life such as awards received     or services performed in the church and/or community.
  27. Slideshow     —Compile a slideshow highlighting moments from youth activities in which     youth are participating in worship, service, education, and fellowship.     Show it during coffee hour with a short presentation about the World Day     of Orthodox Youth and International Orthodox Youth Month.
  29. Forget     Me Not – Distribute “Forget Me Not” flower seeds in a packet with     the text of Prov 3:1 (“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart     keep my commandments”) included.
  31. Caring     Can - This is an ongoing project for an entire month. Label a can     “Caring Can.” Each week youth leaders write down a reason why they care     about a youth and place it in the caring can (making sure that something     is written about each youth eventually.) Keep the can in the church school/youth     room and add to it every week.
  33. Youth     Puzzle - Take photos of the youths and glue each photo to a puzzle     piece; any left over pieces may contain group/event pictures. The middle     pieces contain the heading “Piece by Piece the Youth Work Together for the     Glory of God.” (Craft stores carry blank puzzles).
  35. Special     Breakfast - Provide youths with a special place, then serve a special     breakfast or set aside items from coffee hour. Decorate the tables with     special place mats, balloons, and/or treat bags. Each Sunday announce their     names in church and/or honor a different grade or group of youth. The placemats     can be decorated with the logo or graphics from the poster “Let your light     so Shine” available online at
  37. Talk     Show – Invite the whole parish and have youth sit on a “panel”     to discuss their experience as an Orthodox Christian teenager.
  39. Let     Each Family Shine - Have one evening during the month where family     traditions are shared between the generations. Have youth present their     family’s traditions. Family members can join in for demonstrations (knitting,     crocheting, sausage making, peroghi pinching, nut roll rolling, instrument     playing, card playing, etc.)
  41. Other     “20-Somethings” – Explore other ideas compiled by the Church’s     Youth Department. They are online in The Hub (     Click on Activities and then 20-Somethings.