Paramus, NJ – H.E. Mor Dionysios John Kawak and the Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese hosted this year’s Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Youth Associations (SCOOYA) Conference. The conference, the theme of which was “Stranger in a Strange Land: Young and Orthodox in America”, tackled timely issues relevant to the lives of our Oriental Orthodox Youth. The featured speakers were the V. Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian of the Armenian Diocese – famous for his “Choices” series of web videos – and Rev. Fr. Shiryl Mathai of the Malankara Syriac Archdiocese, a dynamic young priest with a gift for connecting with the youth. The conference began and ended with traditional Orthodox worship – in English – in the Syriac Orthodox Rite, and, since it took place on the Feast Day of St. Gabriel on the Ethiopian/Eritrean Calendar – featured songs in praise of the Archangel in the Eritrean tradition. The Conference provided ample opportunity for fellowship among the youth, and closed with a panel discussion featuring H.E. Mor Dionysios, H.G. Anba David, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of NY&NE, and the V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Primate and Bishop-Elect of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church. Approximately 200 youth from every Oriental Orthodox jurisdiction, along with their clergy and servants, attended the conference.
The SCOOYA Conference sprang from the longstanding desire of our Fathers the Bishops to bring our youth together. In 1965, the heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches gathered in Addis Ababa for their first meeting in modern history. At this historic gathering, our common Fathers agreed that our churches should work together in serving our youth wherever possible. In 2004, the bishops of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH) affirmed this vision and inaugurated SCOOYA in order to bring together the representatives of our official youth organizations (SOYA, ACYOA, ECCYC, EroYA, MGSOSA, etc.). SCOOYA organized a number of conferences and events between 2004-2009 and again, after a brief hiatus, from 2011 to the present. This year, by popular request, the conference was focused on two things: 1) creating opportunities for fellowship and dialogue among our youth, and 2) bringing our youth face-to-face with their hierarchs in order to have their questions about our Holy Faith answered. Please pray for the work of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Youth Associations, and message the SCOOYA page if you are an Oriental Orthodox youth or servant who wants to get involved with this ministry!