Youth Sunday and our Jr. SOTAYA Chapter
"Youth are the future of our church," some say. Without missing a beat, a well-informed youth will reply, "Wrong! We are part of the church today." Involving the youth of a church at a significant level on a particular Sunday affirms their presence and ministry in the church. Of course, it is also very important to involve youth in activities and worship on an ongoing basis, throughout the church year. “Youth Sundays” at Saint Steven’s are designed to integrate the talents of young people into the weekly worship and fellowship life of the parish. Many of our youth are remarkably gifted and skilled and they once more demonstrated that they can certainly make a significant contribution to the parish when they are encouraged and properly guided to do so.
On Sunday, December 2, 2012, the Cathedral high school youth, members of the newly formed Junior SOTAYA (Serbian Orthodox Teachers And Young Adults), served in several of the day’s ministries – Liturgical chanting, Epistle chanting, Sunday lunch preparation and the lunchtime announcements – in an active offering of their parish stewardship. The youth group selected this first Sunday in December, but hope to have many more such “Youth Sundays” during the course of the school year.
With the Blessings of the Episcopal Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America, SOTAYA, the Serbian Orthodox Teachers and Youth Association has been re-established and parishes like the Cathedral are now forming local chapters. The purpose of this ministry is to unite the teachers, young adults, and youth members of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Dioceses throughout North and South America. It is a special forum through which they will be brought closer together through a ministry of faith and fellowship.
We all must recognize that the home is the most important arena for Orthodox Christian formation and practice, and expresses what has long been part of the church’s self understanding. The New Testament epistles contain a great deal of material relating to the practice of faith in the context of the household. Saint John Chrysostom called the home, the "little church."
Alongside and in support of family homes, our parishes are called to give children and young people experiences of faith. However, no family in and of itself has sufficient perspective, resources or capabilities to nurture children into a life-long commitment. For children and young people to grow into Orthodox Christian maturity, they need to learn what it is to practice their faith within their bigger and equally important family, the family of the baptized, the family of the Church.
Our local Chapter of JUNIOR SOTAYA will be able to network with other chapters established in the diocese as well as throughout North and South America. The Standing Committee for Youth Ministry will be conducting an annual conference of all chapters of JUNIOR SOTAYA. This annual conference will allow for the opportunity of greater education in the faith, as well as sharing and networking with other youth throughout the region. The 2013 Conference is being planned for June in Texas.