On Saturday, February 27th, St George hosted the Cleveland Deanery Christian Education meeting. His Grace Bishop Dr +Mitrophan opened the meeting with prayer, followed by a warm welcome by Cleveland Dean V. Rev. Zivojin Jakovljevic. The featured speaker for the event was Rev. Bosko Stojanovic, from St George in Lorain, Ohio, who offered his thoughts on keeping teenagers connected to their Orthodox faith.
Fr Bosko outlined the myriad of challenges that our teens face today, including a constantly shifting culture in which their Orthodox faith is devalued, and the importance of church is minimized. In particular, Fr Bosko discussed the prevalence of sports on Sundays, which often draw young people away from church and onto the soccer field. Still, he exhorted those present to meet the teens where they are and help them find Christ in their lives – whether it be in sports, on television, or at school.
Following the presentation, the priests held a lively discussion about keeping teenagers connected to their faith. Citing a study by the Antiochian archdiocese, Fr Aleksa noted that the single greatest statistical correlation between moral and ethical decision making by teens was daily reading of the Scriptures. In general, the priests made a connection between adult education and youth education – if the parents express their faith at home, the children are more likely to absorb those habits.
Fr Rodney Torbic, director of religious education for the Eastern Diocese, offered his comments on the presentation and discussion. He urged all Christian Educators present to take a vocal stand against Sunday sports and activities that draw children away from their church.
His Grace Bishop Dr +Mitrophan finished the discussion by offering that the reading of Scripture is important, and that priests and educators need to be visible leaders in that regard. He pointed to Fr Rodney’s adult education efforts in Carmichaels, PA as an inspiration to other educators who must include, in some form, adult educational offerings for their parishes. His Grace also encouraged parishes to form groups specific to teens that allow them the opportunity to gather socially while growing in their Orthodox faith.
The day concluded with Christian Education reports from around the diocese. In attendance were priests and representatives from: St George (North Canton), St George (Lorain), St Sava (Broadview Heights), St Sava Cathedral (Parma), St Steven’s (Lackawanna), St Stevan of Decani (Columbus), Monastery Marcha (Richfield), St Archangel Michael (Akron), Holy Trinity (Youngstown), Old Holy Trinity (Youngstown), St George (Niagara Falls), St George (Carmichaels) and St George (Hermitage).
Many thanks to volunteers from the KSS who provided a fantastic luncheon for all those present!