Tuesday, March 26, 2013
New relationships and unity among Orthodox Christian youth
workers are the result of diligent efforts by the Committee for Youth, one of
the very active committees of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of
North and Central America.
members are Bishop Thomas (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese), Metropolitan Alexios (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese)
and Bishop Irineu (Orthodox Church in America). As with all of the Assembly’s
committees, clergy and lay consultants support the work of the committee. The
Committee for Youth has more than sixty consultants with extensive experience
and knowledge of Orthodox youth and youth programs.
One of the fruits of the committee’s efforts has been new
relationships and increased collaboration among jurisdictional youth directors.
“Prior to the committee’s formation, a handful of jurisdictional youth
directors would meet occasionally,” says His Grace Bishop Thomas, the chairman
of the committee. “Now there are 17 who meet in person and by phone,
representing every jurisdiction in the Assembly. An additional fifty-three
youth workers work alongside them, as consultants to the committee. They’ve
become a family of Orthodox youth workers, sharing information and resources.”
The youth directors and youth workers held their most recent
meeting in Austin TX in January, just before the Committee for Youth’s annual
The increased collaboration is leading to a better
understanding of available Orthodox youth programs, better coordination between
the jurisdictions, and a deeper understanding of the challenges our youth face
in living an Orthodox Christian life.
The committee has also created a database of Orthodox youth
programs, the first of its kind. Previously, there was no central repository of
“We’ve learned that there are a whole lot of people doing
fantastic Orthodox youth work,” says Fr. Joseph Purpura, Chair of the
Department of Youth and Parish Ministries for the Antiochian Orthodox Christian
Archdiocese and facilitator for the committee. “You might expect that we would
find redundancy across jurisdictions, but in fact it’s just the opposite –
we’ve discovered that between us we have a wealth of programming, material and
resources. It means more opportunities for all our youth.” Every bishop and
youth director has received an electronic version of the database, which will
be updated annually.
The Committee for Youth is encouraging jurisdictions to
publicize one another’s events and promote the idea that youth can participate
in any Orthodox program, regardless of jurisdiction. The committee hopes that
its efforts will result in more opportunities for youth to grow in the faith
and more opportunities for youth to form relationships with one another.
“There’s a real
desire on the part of all involved to share our programs and to bring our kids
together. The younger we reach them, the better,” says Bishop Thomas.
More information on the Committee for Youth, including
its terms of reference, can be found here.