On Tuesday, 14 June, the All North American Youth Conference opened at the Snowbird Center in Salt Lake City, UT. This is the first such youth event of the Russian Church Abroad since the COVID pandemic began. Two similar events were held earlier in Paris and San Francisco.
The conference was organized by the St. Prince Vladimir Youth Association and the Synodal Youth Department. One hundred participants from 23 American states and Canada, age 18-25, are participating. The event commenced with His Grace James, Bishop of Sonora, performing a moleben before the start of any good work, as a youth choir sang under the direction of Stephan Sveshnikov.
His Eminence Gabriel, Archbishop of Montreal & Canada, presided over the opening of the conference, delivering a speech on how such youth gatherings began when he was still a seminarian, paying special attention to the importance of missionary work as exemplified by the life of the late Metropolitan Hilarion.
Archpriest Andrei Sommer, deputy chairman of the Synodal Youth Department, read a welcome address to conference participants from the chair of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Synodal Department for Youth Affairs, Bishop Seraphim of Istra.
Bishop James then read a lecture titled "You are the Temple of the Living God," noting that "everyone must have his own life in Christ," and that "everyone must strive to create around oneself an atmosphere of holiness."
The youth then split up into eight groups, each of which was charged with preparing a project to introduce into their local parish life.
An akathist was then performed in St George Church in nearby Salt Lake City before the myrrh-streaming Iveron-Hawaiian Icon of the Mother of God, brought from Hawaiian by the rector of Holy Theotokos of Iveron Church in Honolulu, Priest Athanasius Kone.
Speaking at the event will also be Matushka Patricia Klar, who for many years organized youth choirs on the parish level, and Eugen Kulesha, a director of Camp NORR (Association of Russian Explorers Outside of Russia).
The young people will learn to record podcasts on various subjects and discover the work of the St. John of Shanghai & San Francisco Foundation. Also scheduled will be a teleconference with Orthodox youth in Germany.
The conference will conclude with the traditional talent show.