NEW YORK: December 23, 2020
The Eastern American Diocese will host the St Herman's Youth Conference despite coronavirus restrictions

The Russian Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) will hold its traditional youth conference in a limited format on December 25despite strict COVID-19 restrictions, conferences director archpriest Alexey Duncan said in an interview.

This year with the COVID-19 we have great restrictions and we are not able to conduct have the conference as we usually do. However, metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, archbishop Gabriel of Montreal and Canada, who is the chairman of our conference, and bishop Nicholas of Manhattan will be serving the Divine Liturgy with the number of priests and deacons in ROCOR Synod in New York, father Alexey said.

The fest of St. Herman of Alaska falls on the same day as Catholic Christmas December 25. Our church realized that our young people have a different calendar and spiritual experience then the rest of their American friends, and so it was necessary for us to offer them something that would keep them in tune with our Russian traditions, father Alexey said.

Traditionally, almost 175 young adults from different countries, including the US, Russia, Australia, Canada and European states,gathering together in one of the ROCOR parishes, generally in the US North-East, to discuss major topics of their church life. This year, only not more than 35 people would be able to take part in the conference in person in Synod due to the COVID-19 restrictions, while other over 125 participants will join servicesonline.

The Vigil will be on December 24, and the Divine Liturgy will be in the morning on December 25. We will be doing broadcast of the services, and we have asked archbishop Gabriel to present an extended sermon addressing all of the young people who are not able to attend. I am quite sure that after the Liturgy the young people that are able to attend the service in person will be able to get together and have sort of the discussion, father Alexey said.

I think that there is a number of topics that are very interesting to people today, he noted. This year marks the 100 year anniversary of the Russian Church Abroad, so that will be touched upon. Probably, of great interest will be peoples opinions on the COVID-19, lockdowns, restrictions upon churches, and how we as Orthodox Christians need to approach these issues.

Speaking of what major issues the young Russian people face now, father Alexey noted that these problems are pretty similar inside and outside Russia.

The big question for everyone is how do you live the spiritual life and how you maintain Russian Orthodox traditions, he said. There are many elements of that, such as the COVID-19, but also simply matters of politics because we live in the world that somewhat turned upside down, and our identity as Russian Orthodox sometimes in America makes a little bit difficult because of the huge amount of Rusophobia. But I think the challenges for the young people in Russia are exactly the same how to avoid the temptations of the world and the influences that are not healthy. I know that my friends in Russia struggle with this.

Dmitry Zlodorev


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