The Youth Committee of the Western American Diocese has long desired to organize a work project for our youth, to give them a ‘hands on’ opportunity to contribute to the building up of the Church in our Diocese.
St. Martin Orthodox Church in Corvallis, Oregon is in the process of constructing a new 3700 sq. ft. Parish Hall, which will provide facilities for social, educational, and cultural activities that currently take place in the homes of members or at third-party sites. Construction of this parish hall provided the opportunity for an inaugural Youth Project.
Plans provided for the courtyard and pathway around the temple to be finished in paving stones, to beautify the temple grounds and to create a finished area in the courtyard for outdoor activities – summer talks, overflow seating for feasts, and the like. The paving of the courtyard and pathway seemed an ideal task for a Youth Project, providing participants with the opportunity both to assist in the expansion of a parish community, and to acquire a useful skill.
The project was proposed to the youth in December at the St. Herman West Conference. The response of the youth was highly positive, and many enrolled ‘on the spot’ to help with the project.
The project took place from June 16-20, Monday evening through Friday morning. Nineteen (19) youth, aged 15 to 23, from eight (8) parishes, took part in the event. Clergy volunteers supporting the event were Archimandrite Irenei (Steenberg), Protopriest David Moser, and Priest Jesse Philo. Young men were housed in a tent village on the Church property, and the young women dormitory-style in the Rectory. Meals were served in the Rectory and on the Church grounds.
Tuesday and Wednesday were work days, with spiritual, social, and recreational activities in the evenings. These included excursions to the nearby aquatic center, where the participants swam and played water sports, and a bonfire. Spiritual talks were given by Fr. Irenei, on the nature of sainthood, and by Fr. David, on angels. Fr. David’s talk was followed by a general question and answer period, during which our clergy were joined by Priest Daniel MacKay, rector of the Serbian parish in Eugene, Oregon.
Thursday was set aside for recreation. The participants toured the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, followed by a visit to the Hatfield Marine Science Center. The afternoon was spent at the beach. Dinner followed at a local restaurant. The day concluded with social time at the parish rectory.
This inaugural project was well-received by the youth. Everyone was impressed with the quality of the work, and the participants could feel a justifiable sense of accomplishment in a job well done.
The Diocesan Youth Committee continues to look for opportunities for this type, and hopes to offer this kind of activity to our youth on a regular basis. Interested parishes with potential projects should contact Fr. Boris Henderson, chairman of the Youth Committee.
The St. Martin parish is striving to complete its new Parish Hall by its feast day, October 25. Donations are very welcome, online at stmartinorthodoxchurch.org or otherwise (please contact the parish rector, Fr. James Baglien, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-738-0600).