The mission and goal of GOYA ministry is to lead our young people into experiencing the Holy Orthodox Faith. By developing a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and becoming active sacramental members of the living Church, our young people will be equipped with tools necessary to assist them in their journey toward salvation.
WHO IT SERVES
The Greek Orthodox Youth of America, or GOYA, is the ministry to teenagers of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Since GOYA is ministry, the orientation and implementation of the program should reflect the Orthodox Christian Faith, Tradition and Life.
GOYA is ministry to junior high and high school grade Orthodox Christian teenagers. Teenagers should be in seventh through twelfth grades to participate. It is recommended that GOYA ministry be divided into two distinct groups, the junior high GOYA ministry and the high school GOYA ministry.
The teenagers themselves prefer the specific age groupings since they can relate better with others who share the same age and school environment. More importantly, it is more developmentally appropriate for these age groups to be separated. Senior High GOYAns are ready to learn different things than Junior High GOYAns.
This approach is the most effective, however it does demand more of the parish priest, youth director and advisors. In smaller parishes, the number of teenagers is fewer; therefore, making GOYA two distinct groups may not be feasible.
If having two groups is not possible, pay special attention to the developmental needs of the individual young people in the group by making sure activities are appropriate for all of the youth. Occasionally, special activities can be planned for specific grades. For example, an outing to a College Career Night for the high school seniors may be planned.
THE FOUR CHARACTERISTICS
The National Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries recommends that GOYA ministry be based on the following four characteristics:
Worship (Liturgia), Fellowship (Koinonia), Service (Diakonia), and Witness (Martyria).
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (Psalm 95:6-7)
As Orthodox Christians, we believe that God reveals Himself through Holy Tradition and Scripture. Worship is the sacramental expression of these, and is thus a very important element in ministering to our young people. It is important for GOYAn’s to be active sacramental members of the Church.
GOYAn’s can participate in WORSHIP through:
- Private and Corporate Prayer
- Participation in the Divine Services and Sacraments of the Church (not just Sunday, but the entire cycle of worship)
- Prayer services at GOYA gatherings
- Prayer for those who are sick or in need
- Observance of the Church calendar, including the pre-scribed Feasts and Fasts
- Study of religious books and writings
“Behold how good and pleasing it is when brothers dwell in unity.” (Psalm 133)
Fellowship is the way Orthodox Christians integrate their faith with daily life. It is sacred when Orthodox Christians gather together in our Lord’s name. The relationship of the Holy Trinity is the perfect model of Fellowship. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share perfect communion and exist in perfect love. By gathering together in fellowship, and by experiencing this love, we emulate the relationship of the Trinity, and develop our life in Christ.
GOYAn’s can participate in FELLOWSHIP through:
- Camp and retreat programs, church sponsored athletic programs, ethnic dancing, etc.
- Pan-Orthodox seminars under the guidance of the priest
- Film, video and multimedia presentations and subsequent discussions
- Performance of religious productions (plays, musicals, role-playing, etc.)
- Day, overnight or weeklong outings
- Volunteerism at the parish level
- Group discussions on various contemporary issues (books, movies, music)
- Church Attendance
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . .” (Mark 10:45)
Christ came to serve, not to be served. Young people are urged to do the same. Therefore, we can honor and glorify God by loving and serving humanity in His name. Young people should use their God-given charismata (gifts) to serve.
Young people serve God by serving the Church. For Orthodox Christians, service to God and community is the way of life, the way of living one’s faith. As Jesus Christ our Lord said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). For this reason, service is an integral part of the Orthodox Christian’s life.
Often times, we look at our youth and wonder how we can help them. We need to inspire them into a life of service. The question must be asked, “How can our young people use their God-given gifts for service to the needy, service to those less fortunate?” How can they be part of the people who respond to our Lord’s call in Matthew 25:31-46, to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit those in prison. This is the true meaning of service.
GOYAn’s can participate in Service through:
- Local work projects to beautify and maintain the parish
- Outreach to the elderly, the sick, the shut-in’s, etc.
- Support of missions abroad and at home
- Contributing to Archdiocesan, Diocesan, and parish ministries (St. Basil’s Academy, St. Michael’s, Hellenic College/Holy Cross, etc.)
- Volunteerism in a local soup kitchen for the day
- Participating in short-term mission trips
- Allow them to be personally creative and innovative
“For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15)
Man is both a spiritual and physical being. The spiritual reality is not always expressed in the material world. In order to be true to oneself and to the Orthodox Christian Faith, young people should strive to exemplify faith. They must be a witness to their faith, offering a convincing word and verbal expression of this faith, to those they come in contact with.
GOYAn’s can participate in WITNESS through:
- Attending spiritual classes and reading about the faith
- Sharing the faith with one another and with others outside the group
- Becoming ambassadors of Christ to people we come in contact with
- Inviting a non-Orthodox friend to a Church service or GOYA event
- Sponsor a booth at a local Church Festival or community event to share the Orthodox Faith
- Start a book of the month club with your Orthodox friends and invite non-Orthodox friends as well
GOYA PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Many parishes feel it appropriate to have the GOYAns take a Pledge of Allegiance as an expression of responsibility and understanding of the sacredness of being a member of GOYA. The Archdiocese Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries recommends the following Pledge of Allegiance for GOYA .
I do solemnly affirm that I will uphold the teachings, traditions, worship and moral principles of the Holy Orthodox Faith and the GOYA charter, by-laws and guidelines of my Parish, Diocese and the Archdiocese of America. I will strive to be an example and positive Christian role model to my fellow GOYAns and to those whom I come into contact with. I will faithfully and sincerely fulfill the duties and obligations required of this office. So help me God.
Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna; Proterios, Archbishop of Alexandria; Gorgonia the Righteous, sister of Gregory the Theologian; Damian the New Martyr of Mount Athos; Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey