All North American Youth Conference. Preliminaries.

On June 13th-19th 2022, the All North American Youth Conference will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Prince Vladimir Youth Association has chosen St. George’s Russian Orthodox Church to be the host parish, and attendees will be staying at the Snowbird Ski Lodge, a resort nestled in the Wasatch Mountain Range, just 20 minutes from the city center. The conference is sold out at maximum capacity of 80 people ages 18 and up from both America and Canada.  

 Archpriest Andrei Sommer has organized the conference theme to be parish-youth internshipas a life choice: “building a church from the inside out.” Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many church communities suffered from long periods of closures and the youth felt a sense of isolation. They returned with the need to adjust to new conditions, while trying to restore their connections with each other as much has changed. The goal is to bring young people together through parish life, and teach them how they can work for the betterment of the church, making their work a part of their life and purpose. The youth are successors in our church, so it is essential that they offer their various talents and skills to the growth of the diocese and its individual parishes. Through this, lifelong friendships and close connections with clergy are formed, improving their spiritual lives in the process. 

The schedule for the conference will be as follows: attendees should arrive in the evening on June 13th , and June 14th will be the first official day of activities. In the mornings, lectures and presentations will be given by various speakers, both clergy and laymen. Afternoons will consist of workshops using break out rooms, and master classes led by bishops and clergy. The evenings will consist of different events, including a surprise banquet on Friday night. There will be a free day on Wednesday consisting of sightseeing, a hike, and informal cultural excursions in the city. While there, participants will create a youth podcast, where they can provide a recap of the conference, the work they accomplished, and their thoughts on the topics discussed during the week. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance is limited to residents of North America, but a virtual component on Zoom will be offered to those who are abroad and unable to attend. It will conclude with liturgy on Sunday the 19th, and participants should leave preferably after the service. 

There are four committees representing each of the dioceses, from Canada and the East coast to the Midwest and West coast. These committees consist of youth from various parishes in their respective regions who are volunteering their time to create workshop topics and lead discussions, invite speakers to the conference, come up with a logo to enter into the design contest and more. They meet regularly over Zoom with chairman Archpriest Andrei Sommer to share ideas and lay out plans, while in frequent communication with each other. 

Many of the participants have expressed their excitement for the conference, as many of the diocese events were cancelled during the pandemic, so this offers another opportunity to make up for lost time in the past years. This offers a great opportunity for the youth to travel to a new place, as many have never been to Salt Lake City before, and grow their faith with new people from different regions of the continent. More updates will follow as we draw closer to June. 

Anna Kropov 

EAD conference delegate

Link to the All North American Youth Conference.