Thirteen current and former Central Council members from across the Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO) of the Eastern and Western Dioceses came together in late June at St. Nersess Seminary in Armonk, NY, for the 2016 ACYO North American Conference.
The weekend began with a quation-and-answer session led by former ACYOA Central Council chairs, Ani Grigorian and Jonathan Pelaez. Adrienne Ashbahian led the group in a Bible study that focused on cultivating leadership. The group read several verses from the four gospels and engaged in discussion about what it means to be a leader. Friday night concluded with evening worship led by the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Vicar of the Eastern Diocese.
On the following day, Dn. Diran Jebejian spoke about the history of the ACYO. The participants engaged in an open discussion about what they would like to see in the ACYO and opened the floor to suggestions on ways the Central Councils can improve their respective organizations. The second session was led by Dn. Saro Kalayjian who discussed the responsibility of the youth as Armenian Christians living in the Diaspora. The afternoon continued with a team building exercise.
In the evening, Ani Grigorian and Jonathan Pelaez led a discussion about building the future of the ACYO. Newly graduated seminarian Dn. Narek Garabedian provided the group with a guided reflection which focused on the question, “Who are we?” When asked why our roots are important, Sofia Dilsizian, ACYO Central Council chair, shared a powerful response: “Trees cannot grow without roots.” The night ended with evening service and a community service project organized by Lauren Piligian, which involved assembling care packages for New York City’s homeless. The packages were distributed by the young people on the following day.
On Sunday morning, participants travelled to St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City for the Divine Liturgy. Later that day, they met with Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, and the Very Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Atajanyan, a visiting priest from Jerusalem.