ACYOA Chapter Workshop in Florida

28 January 2016

Last weekend 52 young adults from 17 parishes across the Eastern Diocese gathered in St. Petersburg, FL, for the annual ACYOA Seniors Chapter Workshop. The weekend of reflection, worship, leadership-building, and fellowship was organized by the ACYOA Central Council.

St. Hagop Church of Pinellas Park, FL, hosted the three-day program, from January 22 through 24, in its newly built Shahnasarian Hall. The Rev. Fr. Hovnan Demirjian, parish pastor, serving as the weekend's chaplain.

On Friday evening, ACYOA members discussed way to "Bridge the Gap" between ACYOA Juniors and Seniors. The conversation was led by Lorie Odabashian of the Diocese's Youth and Young Adult Ministries department and ACYOA Central Council chair Ani Grigorian. The evening concluded with a vespers service led by Fr. Demirjian and the Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian.

Saturday's sessions included faith, leadership, and team-building exercises, which helped participants  brainstorm programming relevant to the mission of the ACYOA and its five "Circles of the Cross" (worship, witness, education, service, and fellowship).

Yn. Roberta Kochakian opened the morning with a Bible study. Fr. Kochakian gave an overview of the ACYOA's history in a talk titled "The Mission of the Armenian Church and the ACYOA."  Central Council members Jon Pelaez and Ani Grigorian facilitated a session on building up local chapters.

Later that day, the young people took part in a "Highway Clean-Up," an idea introduced by St. Nersess seminarian sub-deacon Levon Asdourian and members of the St. Hagop Church ACYOA. ACYOA members helped collect rubbish along Belcher Road, abutting St. Hagop Church.

At the conclusion of the service project, ACYOA Central Council members Sarine Atamian and Mallory Maslar led a session on "A Recipe for Success," discussing the "ingredients" of a strong ACYOA chapter. Central Council members Ani Grigorian, Chelsea Kress, and Lauren Piligian helped the young people set goals for the coming year. 

On Sunday, the young people took part in the Divine Liturgy at St. Hagop Church, which was followed by a falafel luncheon prepared by the parish.

"I love ‘Chapter Workshop' because seeing everyone makes me happy and it feels like a family," said Diane Oganesova of St. Hagop Church. "I felt very comfortable opening up during discussion and hearing everyone's views on different situations."  

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