"I have to admit I wasn't quite sure I really wanted to go to the State Youth Conference, even when it came to be a day before the event.
I had never heard of the CYC 12 months ago and never heard of a conference for youth in the Orthodox Church (only Catholic ones from friends).
It was my curiosity more than anything that got me to Crows Nest that Saturday morning. I had reviewed the schedule, but wanted to know what would come from all this?
Cutting a long story short - I am glad I did go. The talks were good (although I did feel a bit too smart for me), so was the organisation and food (talking definitely makes me very hungry!). But it was the people met or met again, that did it for me. The discussion groups were the highlight, when in my preconceptions they were going to be the complete opposite! It was the contributions made from such a variety of feelings, experiences, understandings, journeys and faces...
I'm still not sure what the intention and intended outcomes of the conference(s) were supposed to be or what they are not supposed to be...and that frustrates me. But if there is another conference next year (as requested by the youth on the day), I will be there. Maybe simply because of the shared enthusiasm, enjoyment of the day, and even more importantly the good ideas put forth and courageous questions - were uplifting above any frustration."
"If I were to single out just one moment of the conference, it would have to be when His Grace said how lovely it was that we 'Just spend time with one another'. That simple statement reminded me of a love of a father to his children and a shining example of all things good in Christ. These moments are subtle, and pass by quickly, however if noticed much can be gained from them.
Having listened to so many viewpoints, I came away with a sense of "what can I do to make a difference". To suggest that we didn't need to conclude with any answers, in my opinion, was a soft option. If we constantly seek to glorify God in all that we do, and truly love and have a concern for each other, we can help so many people. We cannot do this fairly with some of the questions not answered, as this clearly illustrates the void that so many are trying to fill. Often it is within the awkward questions that so many of the issues lie, to take ourselves out of our comfort zone for one another, is the building block for change and something that is obviously desperately needed.
The majority of youth want to be loved and accepted and will go to great lengths to achieve this, and if it means not attending church to 'fit in', they'll do it. Lets add in relaxed forums that the youth can freely ask questions about the Liturgy, relationships, life and any other topic on their minds. Lets take the unknown out of it as much as we possibly can and who knows we may just have some fun along the way!!!
Through this and most importantly by the Grace of God, they may then begin to see the vital importance of the Liturgy within their lives. I think so much can be done in prevention of things BEFORE they go wrong, rather than painfully picking up shattered lives after the event.
Conferences are vital, however lets not limit this to lipservice, lets dig through and DO SOMETHING."