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Blessing of next years Youth Leaders
The Bulgarian Orthodox Youth Apostolate
A Department of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada & Australia

BOYA Report to Diocesan Convention, July 17, 2009

Report to His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph and the 34th Diocesan Convention St. Sophia Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Des Plaines, IL, July 17-19, 2009 Your Eminence, Reverend Fathers, brothers & sisters in the Lord: Your blessing! A primary goal of the Bulgarian Orthodox Youth Apostolate is to develop programs that involve the youth of our Diocese in the life and faith of the Orthodox Church, so that they might be a blessing to others and find salvation in Christ. Here are some examples.

My Life in Christ Youth Conference
John Tolbert, the youth coordinator for this year’s youth conference, is presenting his own report. Here I will only say, on behalf of all the young people of the Diocese: Thank you Fr. Gruio and Popadia Parasceva, from the bottom of our hearts! And thank you to all the faithful of St. Sophia Church, for your fabulous hospitality. We are forever in you debt!

Youth Leadership Seminars (YLS)
Through the My Life in Christ Youth Conferences, a group of young people with a desire to serve and the capacity to lead others began to bond with one another in Christian fellowship. In 2007, with Dedo Vladika Joseph’s blessing, we began The Youth Leadership Seminar, with the specific goals of aiding these young people to grow in personal discipleship, to mature in the acceptance of accountability and responsibility, to develop leadership skills while developing self-confidence, and to deepen their spiritual fellowship and unity in Christ through shared service to others. Over the past two years this program has benefitted around thirty young adults from our Diocese. These young people are in turn not only providing leadership for our own Diocesan programs, but are also serving in leadership roles in other national and regional Orthodox youth programs, as well as setting a great example in their home parishes.

Youth Mission Teams
Youth Mission Teams are meant to be of direct service in the parishes. While this program was announced by His Eminence to Diocesan clergy and parish Boards in a letter last year, it has been slow to get off the ground. Teams are made up of youth who have attended one or more of the Youth Leadership Seminars and so are equipped to minister to other youth. A visit can be as simple as one young adult traveling to a parish for worship on a Sunday, and afterward making a 10 minute presentation to parents and youth about the annual My Life in Christ Youth Conference. Or, a visit might be as full as a complete weekend youth program (Friday night through Sunday afternoon) with music, games, worship, fellowship and group discussions, lead by 3 to 5 young adults accompanied by myself or another of our Diocesan priests. We expect Youth Mission Teams to be in high demand, once priests and lay leaders realize the great potential these visits have for revitalizing parish youth programs and for making a positive impact on parish youth.

St. John of Rila "Work and Pray" Youth Pilgrimage to Bulgaria
Over the past two years, Dedo Vladika Joseph has developed support among metropolitans in Bulgaria for the idea of bringing young Orthodox people from the USA on a pilgrimage to work and pray in Bulgaria. Several of them have offered to host our group. We are also identifying potential service projects at orphanages and educational programs for disadvantaged children in Sofia and the surrounding districts. At present, our prayer is to take a group of around 20 pilgrims between the ages of 18 and 30, for two weeks to Sofia, Rila Monastery, Troyan Monastery and the surrounding areas in Summer 2010 (exact dates to be determined).

Funding for BOYA programs
All of these activities require financial support. It is virtually impossible for fees to cover the full cost in any of these programs. For each of the past three years we have been blessed with $7,000 in support from the Diocese. Last year over $4,500 of this went to underwrite the My Life in Christ Conference, leaving around $2,500 for other BOYA programs. This year, bringing the conference to Chicago had the unintended result of increasing our costs by a surprising $120 per person. God willing, the cost per person can be better contained at future conferences, but BOYA continues to need financial help to do the God pleasing work for which you created it. Therefore, on behalf of the youth of our Diocese, I ask for your help in insuring that Diocesan financial support for BOYA continues. I also ask that you each encourage your home parish to add BOYA to you annual parish budget. We have sought and will continue to seek funding for BOYA programs from outside the diocese. In 2007, Christ the Saviour Brotherhood provided a grant of $7,000 for BOYA, and again this year at grant of $10,000. Not a single dollar of the money BOYA receives is paid to staff; every dollar goes straight to the programs. We are laboring diligently, and God is providing fruit, but if we want to see more fruit from BOYA, we have to water the tree. Please pray for the success of this ministry, and please pray for our young people.

Sincerely in Christ,
Priest Philip Tolbert, Director
Bulgarian Orthodox Youth Apostolate
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