ACYOA Chapter Workshop Focuses on Strengthening Local Chapters
January 6, 2012
By Armen Terjimanian
Secretary, ACYOA Central Council
Thirty-five ACYOA members from parishes across the Eastern Diocese gathered in Boca Raton, Fla., last weekend for the ACYOA’s 4th annual Chapter Workshop, hosted by St. David Church. The workshop was designed and facilitated by the seven-member ACYOA Central Council with the Diocesan Vicar, the Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, serving as the workshop chaplain.
Under the theme “We’re All In This Together,” the January 13-15 workshop aimed to provide an interactive atmosphere for participants to share successes, struggles, and advice on how to nurture and build their respective ACYOA parish chapters while also providing opportunities for service, worship, and Christian fellowship.
The first night of the workshop started with an icebreaker where participants worked in small groups. Their task was to complete a puzzle which spelled out words describing leadership skills they would later present to the full group, such as “dedication,” “communication,” and “trust.” After another team-building session—a quiz using “Armenian Church Hye Q” game cards, which tested the young parishioners’ knowledge of the Armenian church and culture—evening vespers concluded the first night’s events.
Saturday began with morning matins, after which Central Council chair Danny Mantis led a session on “Mission, Team, and Organization,” challenging the workshop participants to understand the ACYOA’s mission and the resources the organization has to make it succeed. Participants were told that a clear mission, balanced team, and healthy organization were important aspects of a successful chapter. Participants were asked to analyze the “health” of their respective chapters, and they discussed with Central Council members what they thought would make for a successful ACYOA chapter.
“It’s great how chapters in the same region are able to work together for the same common goal: To create a solid ACYOA organization.” said Alyne Corrigan from St. Stepanos Church of Elberon, N.J. “I’m looking forward to this upcoming year.”
Participants were then broken up into groups based on geographic regions to brainstorm ideas for events and put together a 12-month calendar using guidelines for goal-setting and the “Circle of Crosses” chart.
After a service lunch, where participants made over 100 sandwiches for a South Florida homeless shelter, a Bible study was led by Fr. Odabashian on the 2012 Diocesan theme of lay ministry. Participants were divided into three small groups to allow for better conversation. The study groups were guided by Fr. Odabashian; the Very Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian, pastor of St. David Church; and Garen Karamyan, the youth director of Holy Martyrs Church of Bayside, N.Y.
A panel discussion followed on the challenges faced by the ACYOA. The panel discussion tackled questions such as what is the Central Council’s role in the ACYOA and how can chapters overcome a lack of participation at events.
Participants were happy with what they got out of the weekend.
“This weekend was an incredible experience that I shared with individuals who, like me, have a common goal of bringing together our Armenian youth through social events, church, and other activities,” said Andrew Khachatryan from the St. Sarkis Church of Carrollton, Texas. “We as ACYOA board members want our youth to be closer to God, and our bond through workshops like this makes me feel blessed.”
Since the program began in 2009, more than 100 ACYOA chapter leaders from 27 parishes have participated in similar chapter workshops.