For the first time, representatives of the Orthodox Church in America participated in the All-Diaspora Youth Conference of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia [ROCOR] here June 27 through July 4, 2014. Occurring every three years, this conference is a global gathering of youth and young adults from parishes in ROCOR and the Moscow Patriarchate. This year’s gathering coincided with the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the glorification of Saint John [Maximovitch] and the episcopal ordination of His Grace, Bishop Nicholas [Olhovsky] as ROCOR Bishop of Manhattan.
The conference theme was “In the Footsteps of Saint John: Social Welfare and Volunteer Service.” Participants heard presentations on the life of Saint John and on charitable service and mission work. They also were able to assist in local community service efforts at a soup kitchen and an elder-care facility, prepare service projects of their own, and join in worship at the historic Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” Cathedral in the presence of the relics of Saint John.
The OCA was represented by Andrew Boyd, Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministries; Harrison Russin, originally from Wilkes-Barre, PA’s Holy Resurrection Cathedral who is currently a graduate student at Duke University; and Janine Alpaugh of Holy Annunciation Church, Brick, NJ, who is currently a student at Utica College.
Janine commented, “Being in the presence of Saint John’s relics and being challenged to continue his missionary work with my peers will serve as a life-long reminder of the power of the Gospel for me.” Andrew added, “I am so thankful for the invitation to participate in this conference and for the mission-minded theme that served as a perfect foundation for further joint work with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. Beyond a common heritage and a common ‘mother’, this conference emphasized the common missionary work we still have left to do. It is my hope that this is the beginning of many more collaborative youth programs.”
Further coverage and photographs from the conference are available on the website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.