РПЦЗ: Ежегодный Свято-Германовский съезд в США (ФОТО ВИДЕО) (eng)
Cold Outside but Lots of Warmth Inside
St Herman’s Youth Retreat 2017
at Convent of St Nicholas
Over 20 youth along with a number of clergy, nuns and young adult supporters gathered at St Andrew’s Retreat Center from December 22-25, 2017 for the 8th Annual St Herman’s Youth Retreat sponsored by St Nicholas Convent in Constantia, New York.
The days flowed between times for informal discussion, formal lectures, church services and social activities. Friday evening Fr Nicholas Chernjavsky kicked things off with a fireside chat (the snowy, cold upstate New York weather making it a bit too difficult for an outdoor bonfire this year!)
Coinciding with this year’s theme “Made in the Image of Christ”, Saturday morning, a recent Orthodox convert, Seraphim Flam, a philosophy and linguistics student, offered a profound, in depth survey of the various philosophical trends that have developed over the centuries which have laid the foundation for a worldview which accommodates the transgender movement. Seraphim’s purpose in tracing this development of worldviews was to help us understand that in a sense we who are raised as Orthodox Christians speak a different language, come from a different outlook than those who are not Orthodox. Therefore it is not so easy to defend or argue our position with those who see things differently because our reference points differ.
Nevertheless in a culture that is most aggressively promoting homosexuality and gender fluidity as positive and healthy behaviors, we will (unless we choose a secluded monastic life) be faced with situations that challenge our beliefs. Following Seraphim’s talk Fr Nicholas and Deacon Alexander Buterbaugh asked the young people about some of the situations they have faced: for example a 16 year old high schooler reluctant to refer to a classmate who was transitioning from female to male by their new male name. A lively discussion was held on how to act with love while remaining firm in our own views towards those who make lifestyle choices that are far from Orthodox or who challenge or belittle our beliefs on these issues.
Saturday afternoon two visiting nuns from St Anne’s Skete in Tbilisi, Georgia Mother Nina and Mother Isidora gave an account of the history of Orthodoxy in Georgia which included many beautiful photos from their homeland.
The final formal talk of the retreat was given by Fr Daniel Meschter who examined the question of creation of the world by God and the theory of evolution. Though a priest Fr Daniel has an education in science and explained that evolution, while touted as “science” in contrast to a faith based understanding of creation, is in fact lacking in scientific proof. Proponents of evolution are simply strident in their belief that God could not have created the universe and all in it; whether evolution is scientifically valid is secondary.
Of course what makes it easier to deal with challenges to our faith such as transgenderism and evolution is to remember that we are not alone, and that we are strengthened through prayer. The opportunity to gather socially and to pray with like-minded Orthodox young people is the greatest benefit of gatherings such as the St Herman’s Youth Retreat. We thank the clergy and the young adults whose hard work, energy and love helped to make the retreat a time that was beneficial to both body and soul, and look forward to gathering again next year!