Summer Youth Conferences
RECAP of SUMMER OF 2016!
Eighty Armenian youth from both the Eastern and Western Dioceses experienced the legendary St. Nersess Summer Conferences held for the first time on the new campus in Armonk, NY, during the summer months of June, July and August. This year, a new four-year curriculum was introduced that will better prepare young Armenian students to become leaders in their home parishes, including future Sunday School teachers.
From June 25 - July 3, the Deacons' Training Program, led by the Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, welcomed a group of young men who gathered together to learn the music and rituals of the Divine Liturgy and other services of the Armenian Church as well as their meaning and importance. The participants came from 12 states in the Eastern and Western Dioceses. With great enthusiasm the altar servers and prospective deacons participated in daily practical workshops, classes, discussions, Bible Study and worship.
Then, from July 15 - 24, High School Summer Conference A welcomed participants from various parishes throughout the Eastern Diocese, which was led by the Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian, pastor of St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Dallas, TX. During this session, four students from the Sts. Tarkmanchatz School of Jerusalem's Armenian Patriarchate attended. This is the 11th year that the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, Dean, has welcomed students from Sts. Tarkmanchatz. With the help of sponsors who fully fund their travel and tuition, these students have an opportunity to enhance their spiritual life as well as meet their peers in America. These four students also benefited from a special opportunity to participate in a ten-day, interfaith service-learning program for 20 Israeli, Palestinian and American youth organized by Canon Nicholas Porter and Jerusalem Peacebuilders in New Haven, CT. All the participants witnessed the evening service of the ordination of two St. Nersess graduates into the priesthood at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, NJ and also attended their ordination service at St. Vartan Cathedral in New York City.
Summer Conference B, directed by the Rev. Fr. Shnork Souin, pastor of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Church in Providence, RI, had a large group of participants. Some of the topics presented over the course of the 10-day conference were the old testament, early church fathers, early church councils, and the Sacrament of Baptism which were presented by respected speakers most of whom are themselves graduates of the seminary. Fr. Shnork, who has not directed a summer conference in seven years, commented, "I had the most wonderful time and formed the greatest memories at this year's summer conference. I am looking forward to bringing many more young people to St. Nersess and also introducing the new campus and this life changing program to a whole new generation of St. Nersess conference participants."
The final session for the summer, the Post High School Summer Conference, was held August 9 - 13 and was directed by the Rev. Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian, pastor of St. Sarkis Armenian Church of Charlotte, NC, with the assistance of Yn. Danielle DerAsadourian. Participants gathered each day to share meals, worship in the chapel together, as well as attend Armenian language classes and bible studies. The conference participants also had the opportunity to learn about their culture and faith by engaging guest speakers, including seminary faculty, seminarians, and clergy. The topics included baptism, Church Fathers, Armenian Church art, spiritual development, and modern issues.
The summer conferences are a unique religious, social, and educational experience that brings young Armenian Americans together from the North American dioceses and abroad for worship, study, fellowship and recreation.
Instruction and Special Activities
Clergy and church lay leaders will assist participants in the daily instruction of the Armenian Church. Participants will be encouraged to ask frank questions about the church’s teachings and traditions, Christian faith, the Bible, and current topics, no matter how sensitive or controversial. Anonymously dropped into a special box, the questions will be addressed by a panel of clergy.
Each session will also include a special afternoon excursion to local area Armenian homes for the aged, where participants will have the opportunity to visit, pray with, and learn from the valuable elder community.
Long-Standing Tradition and International Attraction
The summer conferences have attracted thousands of teenagers and college-age students over the past five decades to explore their faith and heritage with friends in a safe, fun and unique environment. This includes select students from the Sts. Tarkmanchatz School in Jerusalem who have participated in the conferences for the past seven years thanks to benefactors and summer conference scholarships, coordinated between Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian and the Very Rev. Fr. Norayr Kazarian of Jerusalem.
“The Jerusalem students have the opportunity to experience one the best programs for youth that exists; they get to meet other young Armenian students with whom they establish friendships and continue to maintain contact; and they broaden their horizons and take a new look at the faith and traditions of the Armenian Church in which they have grown up,” explained Fr. Mardiros. “Also, our American Armenian youth are offered the valuable experience of meeting other young people from Armenian Jerusalem, getting to know them as individuals and learning about the life and history of Armenians in the Holy City.”
For further information, contact the Seminary at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 914-273-0200.