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Chapter Workshop focuses on strengthening chapters

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Thirty-five ACYOA members from parishes across the Eastern Diocese gathered in Boca Raton, Fla., earlier this month for the ACYOA's fourth annual Chapter Workshop, hosted by St. David Armenian Church. The January 13-15 workshop with the theme "We're All in This Together," aimed to provide an interactive atmosphere for participants to share successes, struggles, and advice on how to nurture and build their respective ACYOA parish chapters while also providing opportunities for service, worship and Christian fellowship.

Nearly 100 ACYOA chapter leaders from 27 parishes have participated in Chapter Workshop since its inception in 2009.

The first night of the workshop started with an icebreaker where participants were broken up into four groups to complete a puzzle with pieces that had words describing a leadership skill they could present to the group, such as "dedication," "communication," and "trust." After a session of Armenian Church Hye Q, which challenged the young parishioners' knowledge of Armenian culture and church facts, evening vespers concluded the first night's events.

After morning Matins on Saturday, Central Council chairman Danny Mantis lead a session on Mission, Team and Organization, challenging the workshop participants to understand the ACYOA's mission and the resources the organization has to make it succeed. Participants were told that to have a successful ACYOA, a clear mission, a balanced team and a healthy organization were the key ingredients. Participants were asked to analyze the "health" of their chapters with handouts and also discussed with CC members in groups what they thought would make for a successful ACYOA chapter.

"It's great how chapters in the same region are able to work together for the same common goal: To create a solid ACYOA organization." says Alyne Corrigan from St. Stepanos Armenian Church in Elberon, NJ. "I'm looking forward to this upcoming year."

Participants were then divided into groups based on geographic regions to brainstorm ideas for events and put together a 12-month calendar using templates, guidelines for goal-setting and the Circle of Crosses chart.

After a service lunch, where participants made over 100 sandwiches for a South Florida homeless shelter, a Bible Study on part of this year's Diocesan theme and a panel discussion on challenges faced by the ACYOA were held. The panel discussion tackled questions such as what is the Central Council's role in the ACYOA and how can chapters overcome a lack of participation at events.

Participants were happy with what they got out of the weekend.

"This weekend was an incredible experience that I shared with individuals who, like me, have a common goal of bringing together our Armenian youth through social events, church and other activities," said Andrew Khachatryan from St. Sarkis Armenian Church in Carrollton, Texas. "We as ACYOA board members want our youth to be closer to God, and our bond through workshops like this make me feel blessed.

Written by Armen Terjimanian