Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. -1 Timothy 4:12
The acolyte program serves to promote and encourage young men to constantly learn and remain engaged in the Holy Services. It is a privilege to serve in the Holy Altar and one which should not be taken lightly. The boys are expected to dress appropriately, to arrive early and to listen to the adult and youth leaders while serving. For more information, please contact your local parish priest. Altar boy retreats and training sessions are encouraged.
ANGEL AND JUNIOR CHOIRS
The Angel and Junior Choirs provide an avenue whereby the youth of the Metropolis can develop an understanding of both the beautiful, yet complex Byzantine, and other various styles of hymnology, as it pertains to the ecclesiastical music employed in Orthodox worship. Music classes take place at the Camp Good Shepherd summer camp as well as periodically at retreats and youth meetings. Each parish is encouraged to teach the youth of the Metropolis the beautiful hymnology of the Greek Orthodox Church.
K – 12th Grade.
In an effort to promote and develop the sacred bond between Parent and child, Little Angels Playgroup (LAP) operates as a mode whereby Orthodox parents can encourage each other, while relating and discussing the issues and concerns of child rearing with other like-minded Orthodox Christians. Social events and day trips which support the mission are highly important and encouraged.
Infants to Pre-K
The Hellenic Orthodox Primary Education (HOPE) is the ministry to Kindergarten through 2nd grade children. Since HOPE is a ministry, the orientation and implementation of the program should reflect the Orthodox Christian Faith, Tradition and Life.
The mission and goal of the HOPE ministry is to lead our children into experiencing the Holy Orthodox Faith. By developing a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and becoming active sacramental members of the living church, our children will be equipped with tools necessary to assist them in their journey toward salvation. By laying a foundation of faith at this age, the young people will have something that will guide and strengthen them through life.
K – 2nd Grade
The Junior Orthodox Youth, or JOY, is the ministry to 3rd through 5th grade children. Since JOY is a ministry, the orientation and implementation of the program should reflect the Orthodox Christian Faith, Tradition and Life.
The mission and goal of the JOY ministry is to lead our young people into experiencing the Holy Orthodox Faith. By developing a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and becoming active sacramental members of the living church, our young people will be equipped with tools necessary to assist them in their journey toward salvation. By laying a foundation of faith at this age, the young people will have something that will guide and strengthen them as they progress into junior high and high school.
Grades 3rd – 5th
The Greek Orthodox Youth of America, or GOYA, is the ministry to teenagers. Since GOYA is ministry, the orientation and implementation of the program should reflect the Orthodox Christian Faith, Tradition and Life.
GOYA is ministry to middle and high school grade Orthodox Christian teenagers. Teenagers should be in sixth through twelfth grades to participate. It is recommended that GOYA ministry be divided into two distinct groups, the junior high GOYA ministry and the high school GOYA ministry.
The mission and goal of GOYA ministry is to lead our young people into experiencing the Holy Orthodox Faith. By developing a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and becoming active sacramental members of the living Church, our young people will be equipped with tools necessary to assist them in their journey toward salvation.
The National Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries recommends that GOYA ministry be based on the following four characteristics: Worship (Liturgia), Fellowship (Koinonia), Service (Diakonia), and Witness (Martyria).
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (Psalm 95:6-7).
As Orthodox Christians, we believe that God reveals Himself through Holy Tradition and Scripture . Worship is the sacramental expression of these, and is thus a very important element in ministering to our young people. It is important for GOYAn’s to be active sacramental members of the Church.
GOYAn’s can participate in WORSHIP through:
· Private and Corporate Prayer
· Participation in the Divine Services and Sacraments of the Church (not just Sunday, but the entire cycle of worship)
· Prayer services at GOYA gatherings
· Prayer for those who are sick or in need
· Observance of the Church calendar, including the pre-scribed Feasts and Fasts
· Study of religious books and writings
“Behold how good and pleasing it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133).
Fellowship is the way Orthodox Christians integrate their faith with daily life. It is sacred when Orthodox Christians gather together in our Lord’s name. The relationship of the Holy Trinity is the perfect model of Fellowship. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share perfect communion and exist in perfect love. By gathering together in fellowship, and by experiencing this love, we emulate the relationship of the Trinity, and develop our life in Christ.
GOYAn’s can participate in FELLOWSHIP through:
· Camp and retreat programs, church sponsored athletic programs, ethnic dancing, etc.
· Pan-Orthodox seminars under the guidance of the priest
· Film, video and multimedia presentations and subsequent discussions
· Performance of religious productions (plays, musicals, role-playing, etc.)
· Day, overnight or weeklong outings
· Volunteerism at the parish level
· Group discussions on various contemporary issues (books, movies, music)
· Church Attendance
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . .” (Mark 10:45).
Christ came to serve, not to be served. Young people are urged to do the same. Therefore, we can honor and glorify God by loving and serving humanity in His name. Young people should use their God-given charismata (gifts) to serve.
Young people serve God by serving the Church. For Orthodox Christians, service to God and community is the way of life, the way of living one’s faith. As Jesus Christ our Lord said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). For this reason, service is an integral part of the Orthodox Christian’s life.
Often times, we look at our youth and wonder how we can help them. We need to inspire them into a life of service. The question must be asked, “How can our young people use their God-given gifts for service to the needy, service to those less fortunate?” How can they be part of the people who respond to our Lord’s call in Matthew 25:31-46, to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit those in prison. This is the true meaning of service.
GOYAn’s can participate in Service through:
· Local work projects to beautify and maintain the parish
· Outreach to the elderly, the sick, the shut-in’s, etc.
· Support of missions abroad and at home
· Contributing to Archdiocesan, Diocesan, and parish ministries (St. Basil’s Academy, St. Michael’s, Hellenic College/Holy Cross, etc.)
· Volunteerism in a local soup kitchen for the day
· Participating in short-term mission trips
· Allow them to be personally creative and innovative
“For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:15).
Man is both a spiritual and physical being. The spiritual reality is not always expressed in the material world. In order to be true to oneself and to the Orthodox Christian Faith, young people should strive to exemplify faith. They must be a witness to their faith, offering a convincing word and verbal expression of this faith, to those they come in contact with.
GOYAn’s can participate in WITNESS through:
· Attending spiritual classes and reading about the faith
· Sharing the faith with one another and with others outside the group
· Becoming ambassadors of Christ to people we come in contact with
· Inviting a non-Orthodox friend to a Church service or GOYA event
· Sponsor a booth at a local Church Festival or community event to share the Orthodox Faith
· Start a book of the month club with your Orthodox friends and invite non-Orthodox friends as well
The mission of the Scouts is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The troops seek to condition and develop the physical, mental and spiritual capabilities of each Scout while fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and Christian love.
On my honor I will do my best - To do my duty to God and my country - and to obey the Scout Law; - To help other people at all times; - To keep myself physically strong, - mentally awake, and morally straight.
A Scout is: Trustworthy. Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent
The scout troop will prepare every member to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is the official collegiate campus ministry program. OCF’s mission is to support fellowships on college campuses, whose members experience and witness to the Orthodox Christian Church through community life, prayer, service to others and study of the Faith. Working alongside the clergy and youth leader’s the OCF programs should seek to reach out to the greater college community near each parish.
The purpose of the Young Adult League is to support and help Orthodox Christians transition through the various stages of life following college-age. A successful Young Adult League creates a setting where Young Adults grow spiritually through experiencing the four characteristics which symbolize the YAL movement. Namely, Worship (Liturgia), Witness (Martyria), Service (Diakonia), and Fellowship (Koinonia). Using these four characteristics, YAL members will live a balanced Orthodox Christian life, growing in His likeness.
HELLENIC DANCE ACADEMY/FDF
The Dance Academy proudly displays a variety of dances and costumes from all parts of Greece. Music, dance, and other artistic expressions reflect the real experience of a culture. Dressed in vibrant costumes, accompanied by authentic music, the Hellenic Dance Academy dancers capture the richness and elegance of traditional Greek folk dancing. The annual Folk Dance Festival is a wonderful Metropolis event and all parishes are encouraged to participate.
The objective of the Metropolis Basketball Program is to encourage and develop the physical abilities of the youth, while fostering an environment of mutual respect, understanding and Christian love. Active life in the Divine Services is mandatory, as with all other youth activities.
Introduced in 1983, the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival provides Greek Orthodox teenagers the opportunity to write and talk about their faith. The Oratorical Festival Program begins at the parish level and is divided into three divisions:
- Elementary Division (local festival only) for students in grades 4–6
- Junior Division for students in grades 7–9
- Senior Division for student in grades 10–12
The top speakers in the Junior and Senior Divisions advance to the district level. Two finalists in each district division represent the district at the Metropolis Oratorical Festival. The top speaker in each metropolis division is then selected to participate in the Archdiocese Finals, which is hosted by a different metropolis each year.
Ionian village, Vacation Church School and Crossroad are all summer ministries which should be attended by our youth at some point in their development.
Camp Good Shepherd is the Metropolis youth camp which aims to enrich the lives of its participants with a living, vibrant experience of Greek Orthodox Christianity and a rich, textured immersion into their Orthodox faith and culture.
The Camp Good Shepherd program serves the Orthodox Christian youth of the Metropolis of New Jersey and it’s aim is to bond the youth of the Metropolis to the Holy Orthodox faith by fostering within them a life-long appreciation of Orthodoxy. The vision of Camp Good Shepherd is to present young adults with all aspects of the Orthodox faith and Hellenism through total immersion by fellowship, education and fun activities.
The Orthodox faith is at the heart of the Camp Good Shepherd program. Each day begins and ends at the chapel, with morning and evening prayers. Daily life at Camp Good Shepherd includes many traditional summer camp activities that emphasize fun, fellowship, and learning. Campers engage in daily sessions of Arts and Crafts, Aquatics, Athletics, Music and Greek Culture, and Orthodox Life.
The overall goal of the Camp is to instill in the child an understanding of the Orthodox faith while embracing the life of the Church and developing deep relationships with peers their own age. If you are interested in attending as a camper or on staff, please contact the Metropolis Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department.
A great way to heighten fellowship and to begin living and learning the Orthodox Faith is through retreats. While serving as a significant tool in enlightening lives, retreats set aside a special time for a change of pace, fellowship, reflection, growth, and bonding as a community of faith. Retreat themes need to be relevant, pertinent and challenging to the group. The correct format and facilitators should be selected in order to achieve a successful retreat. All Metropolis parishes should, while working in unison, offer youth retreats. Please contact the Metropolis Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department if you need theme ideas and retreat development assistance. We are also available to attend the retreat to speak to the youth and offer guidance.
DEPARTMENT OF RELGIOUS EDUCATION
The mission of the Department of Religious Education is to serve the youth, lay leaders and parents of the Cathedral by providing materials and services that will advance their knowledge and appreciation of the Holy Orthodox Faith. Vacation Church School held over the summer months is also a part of this yearly ministry.
The Department’s main goal is to foster an environment whereby the youth and parents shall:
"Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
-2 Peter 3:18
HELLENIC LANGUAGE, FAITH & CULTURAL SCHOOL
The basic purpose of the Greek School is to systematically and methodically teach the Greek language so that our children are able to read, write, understand, speak Greek, and express their thoughts in writing with precision. The successful operation of the Greek School is based upon the determination, organization and teaching methods of experienced and enthusiastic teachers.
In conjunction with these goals, the teaching of the Greek language is closely linked with the cultural and religious teachings of our ethnic group. The teaching of our history, our traditions, our folksongs and dances, our customs and our religion serve as a means of strengthening our children’s awareness of, and respect for, their religious and ethnic heritage. Moreover, their esteem for the moral and ethnic values of their ancestors will help them form a strong Hellenic Christian character.
The ultimate goal is to motivate our children to maintain and promote the values they have received from their parents and ancestors, and to keep them close to their fellow Greeks, to Hellenism and to our Greek Orthodox Faith.
Some Resources for your parish ministry:
Here are some activities for you to enjoy with your children:
Learn more about your faith, enhance youth programs and help develop discussion in class with Ancient Faith Radio:
Ionian Village is a great way to become truly immersed in the faith. Travel to Greece and experience the sights and sounds of Orthodoxy.
Learn more about Orthodoxy with these short articles written by Clergy and Laity: