2020 Winter Conference Spiritually Renews Young Adults
For the first time in many years, the Winter Conference returned to St. Nersess over the Armenian Christmas long weekend, January 2 – 6, 2020, in Armonk, NY. Geared towards young adults who are of college age, 18 – 25 years old, the conference theme was “The Armenian Church: Ancient Spirituality for Today.”
Over the course of five days, the participants had an opportunity to partake in discussions, daily worship services, reflections, and prayerful meditations revolving around authentic Christianity as the Armenian people have understood and experienced through the centuries.
Leading the discussions were Dn. Eric Vozzy, director; Dn. Timothy Aznavourian, seminarian; Dn. Michael Sabounjian, a 2018 seminary graduate; and Dn. Alex Calikyan, a 2019 seminary graduate. Emily Movsesian served as assistant director, while Sara Kardjian and Lucine Sabounjian were staff members.
“I hope each participant left the conference, not only with a connection to each other, but also with a lasting encounter with God. It was a privilege to help revive this most important event and I am looking forward to directing next year’s Winter Conference,” commented conference director Dn. Eric Vozzy.
On the morning of January 4, the participants gathered in the St. Hagop Chapel to witness the ordination of fellow participant Shant Danadian to the sub-diaconate during the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese. Shant is an altar server and parishioner of St. Paul Armenian Church in Syracuse, NY. He has been an active participant in the Deacons’ Training Program and High School Summer Conferences for the past several years. A celebratory luncheon followed in the dining hall. The evening prior, Bishop Daniel led a discussion with the young adults on “Christianity: The Most Excellent Calling.”
“After all these years, we were happy to gather young adults together again during the Christmas break,” remarked Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean, who recalls the filled- to- capacity winter conferences in the 1980s and 1990s. This year not only did the participants come away with a renewed spirit, but also made new friends. This was evident during their outing to a local bowling alley where the camaraderie was strong.
The conference ended at St. Vartan Cathedral, in New York City, where the participants attended the Theophany Badarak, celebrated by Bishop Daniel, and luncheon on January 6.
“Many of our veteran high school conference participants returned as young adults for our Winter Conference, where they found a space with a little more freedom, a little more accountability, and a lot more in-depth spirituality. What does it mean to be a young Christian in 2020? I saw the participants begin to answer this question personally through our discussions and reflections,” reflected Emily Movsesian, assistant director.
Plans are underway to offer another Young Adult Winter Conference next year.