Jul 14, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC – Over 200 young adults from throughout the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America gathered this past weekend in Washington, DC for the National Young Adult Conference. The conference began on Thursday, July 10 with a Chesapeake Bay Crab Feast hosted by the Saint Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Falls Church, Virginia. The event continued on Friday at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel with a morning Divine Liturgy and special workshops related to the conference theme “Doers of the Word.” On Friday afternoon the participants had the opportunity for an open discussion with His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America.
Conference co-directors Felicia Karavellas and Helen Spanos expressed their gratitude for work of the organizing committee in making this conference a success: “We are very thankful for everything that was offered to make this a memorable event, especially for the clergy who led the workshops and for the guidance offered by Archbishop Demetrios.” It was standing room only for the question and answer session with the Archbishop, who was accompanied at the conference by His Eminence Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain, the Patriarchal Representative to the Clergy-Laity Congress.
Saturday, July 12 was another eventful day for participants as they gathered for the conference keynote delivered by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis. The topic of the keynote was “A New Heaven and A New Earth,” and Father Chryssavgis discussed how persons restore within themselves a sense of wonder for God’s creation. He spoke of the important role of icons, liturgy, and asceticism in forming how each person should perceive, celebrate, and respect the created order.
“The focus on the environment was an important part of the conference,” stated Karavellas. “We used recycled materials for the conference and participated in a special community project.” On Saturday afternoon the young adults gathered at Marvin Gaye Park to help with clean-up efforts by picking up trash, trimming trees, and planting flowers. This emphasis was one important facet of the overall theme of the conference. Father Mark Leondis, Director of the National Young Adult Ministry for the Archdiocese, stated that the conference encouraged young adults to go back to their parishes and be doers of the Word in all aspects of their lives and in their parishes. “Archbishop Demetrios told the young adults that they are not the future of the Church, they are the present. We want them to make service to the Church and to God a very present and real movement within our communities.”
The events of the conference continued on Saturday afternoon with the laying of a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. Archbishops Demetrios and Gregorios were accompanied by Karavellas and Spanos and a large group of young adults. On Sunday participants attended the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at Saint Sophia Cathedral and concluded the three-day event with a farewell cruise on the Potomac.
The National Young Adult Ministry of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has as its mission to cultivate and educate young adults through worship, fellowship, service, and witness. The ministry is for young adults ages 18-35. For more information on this ministry visit www.yal.org.
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