From June 27 to July 4, 2014, the 13th All-Diaspora Russian Orthodox Youth Conference was held in the city of San Francisco, CA. It ran concurrently with a great spiritual event in the Russian diaspora—the 20th anniversary of the glorification of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-worker, as well as a regular session of the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.
The conference, held under the aegis of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign,” included youth from 11 countries.
The forum included lectures, discussions and workshops. Resulting was the development of the following planned projects: a social database, a Russian youth camp, an Orthodox theater, a festival of Orthodox youth, a youth club dedicated to St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, a tutorial center for Orthodox youth, a center for moral and informational support, and Orthodox café, and service in support of sick children in orphanages. Lying at the foundation of these programs are love for one’s neighbor and the desire for Orthodox Christian youth to help and support people in various ways. The projects were presented to a wide audience which included the conferees as well as hierarchs and clergymen of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The conference members visited soup kitchens for the needy and homeless, a senior home and the chapel of St John of Kronstadt. The aim of these visits was to study the experience of organizing such institutions.
The young people participated in the 20th-anniversary celebrations of the canonization of St John, the preacher and teacher of love and mercy, during which the episcopal consecration of Archimandrite Nicholas (Olhovsky), the caretaker of the Kursk-Root Icon of the Mother of God, as Bishop of Manhattan.
The main conclusion of the conference participants was the need to unite Orthodox youth around the idea of charity and mercy.
In conclusion, the conference adopted the following resolution:
We, the participants of the 13th All-Diaspora Russian Orthodox Youth Conference, consisting of 150 persons representing 11 nations of the world—Australia, Austria, Argentina, Belarus, Germany, Canada, Macedonia, Russia, the USA, Ukraine and Sweden, decreed:
To recognize the success of the 13th Russian Orthodox Youth Conference and express gratitude for the blessing and prayers of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the organizers of the event: the Synodal Youth Department of ROCOR and its President, Metropolitan Hilarion, and its Vice President, Protopriest Andrei Sommer; Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America and the Youth Department of the Diocese of Western America and its President, Bishop Theodosius of Seattle; the Fund for Assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the Russian and American benefactors and foundations for assisting in the preparation and operation of the conference.
The conference considers its presented goals and challenges having been met, to wit: the exchange of experience of missionary and social work as an inseparable direction of church activity in the contemporary world, as well as the development of new, concrete ideas and projects to bring to life in the dioceses and parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The conference decided to create a database of projects produced by the forum for the strengthening and development of a single informational space of youth departments and social service departments with the aid of leading informational-communications technologies.
The forum calls upon youth-based social organizations and networks to further seek and manifest new ideas and social projects of the Church in various nations, and under different conditions of existence.
The participants of the conference recognized the need for close collaboration and the cultural interaction of Orthodox youth and called upon Orthodox youth organizations in Russia to establish active partnerships with youth organizations abroad.
The conference recommends that diocesan administrations more actively attract the conference participants in their work in the sphere of social service and charity.
The conference made the decision to prepare and publish materials on the conference’s work for the website of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and other Orthodox resources.
This resolution will be published on the website of the organizer of the conference—the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, on information sites of the conference’s participants, and informational resources of the conference partners.
The conference participants recognize the defining role of youth in preserving and expanding the experience of social service. “Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works,” wrote Holy Apostle James. These words are more than applicable today. Speaking before the conference of Orthodox youth, Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuevsk called upon the youth to advance on all fronts of social service and charitable work. He recalled the words of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, that “at every parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, at least one good work towards the needy must be made manifest. This is important not only for those who ask for help, but for the unity of the church community, so that we all learn to love together.”
We call upon the Orthodox Christian youth to preserve and strengthen faith, displaying it to the world through acts of love and mercy, to develop social service within the Church, to contribute our energy and love, filling it with new life. St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, under whose protection the conference was held, will be our guide and helper in our good works.
Unanimously adopted by the participants of the 13th All-Diaspora Russian Orthodox Youth Conference