More than 35 young adults from 11 parishes across the Eastern Diocese gathered in St. Petersburg, FL, this month for the annual ACYOA Seniors Chapter Workshop. The weekend of reflection, worship, leadership building, and fellowship was led and organized by the ACYOA Central Council.
St. Hagop Church of Pinellas Park, FL, hosted the workshop, with the Rev. Fr. Hovnan Demirjian, parish pastor, serving as the weekend’s chaplain.
Participants arrived at St. Hagop Church on Friday evening, January 9, for dinner and an outreach project: making more than 200 sandwiches for a local shelter. St. Hagop Church parish council member Mallory Maslar gave a PowerPoint presentation on the shelter, Pinellas Hope, explaining how it serves the local community and the impact made by volunteers.
The evening concluded with Vespers service led by Fr. Demirjian.
Saturday’s seminars at the St. Petersburg Marriott consisted of faith, leadership, and team-building exercises designed to challenge participants to develop chapter programming relevant to the mission of the ACYOA and its “Circles of the Cross” – worship, witness, education, service, and fellowship.
Fr. Demirjian opened the morning with a Bible study on outreach. ACYOA Central Council members Adrienne Ashbahian and Daniel Zalinov facilitated a session on “Active Listening” and how it is an essential component of communication. The Rev. Fr. Paren Galstyan, pastor of St. David Church of Boca Raton, FL, led a session on “Ministry and Community” in which he discussed how saints of the Armenian Church influenced others.
Participants worked in small groups to discuss goals and plans for the future, in a session led by Sarine Atamian and Shant Paklaian of the ACYOA Central Council. ACYOA members also had an interactive session with ACYOA Central Council members Ani Grigorian, Chelsea Kress, and Jon Pelaez, exploring local chapter strengths.
On Sunday, the young people took part in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and “Blessing of Water” service at St. Hagop Church.
The Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar, and Lorie Odabashian, the Diocese’s coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, were present throughout the weekend.