The ACYOA is a Christ-centered organization whose goal is to create among young adults a greater sense of spiritual culture and tradition, and to instill within its members, a true spirit of civic mindedness. The purpose and role of the ACYOA, in the context of the Diocese of the Armenian Church, is of vital importance, as it is charged with preparing and equipping young adults to participate in parish and community leadership capacities.
However, in order to do this, the Organization must educate its members about the teachings of the Armenian Church and the history of her people. It must motivate and stimulate creative thinking and illustrations of faith among its members by providing vehicles through which they may express themselves and demonstrate their faith, abilities, skills, interests, concerns, and willingness to try.
These vehicles must enable them to build friendships and lasting relationships. The Organization must develop programs through which members participate, receive information, feel a sense of belonging, experience meaningful relationships, and be exposed to the Armenian Church and her rich, cultural heritage. These programs must be diverse and they must lead young Armenian adults in the direction of future participation and leadership within parishes and Church at large.
The Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) is the national youth program of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. It was created on January 12, 1946 in Providence, Rhode Island. The ACYOA emerged from the foundation of the then many local Junior Leagues and clubs that were formed for the young people of the parishes of the Armenian Church.
World War II interrupted the activities of these local groups, many of which were simply inactive during those difficult years. With the termination of the war, a renewed necessity took place of reorganizing the local parish youth groups. His Eminence Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, the newly-elected Diocesan Primate, wholeheartedly took on the challenge of a problem which was causing the elders of the communities to question the future of the Armenian Church in America. This challenge was carried by Archbishop Tiran to the American-Armenian youth. To all communities, he passed on the informing spark, so important to the creation and continuation of activities for this new organization. The culmination of all this activity and work took place at the "Constitutive Assembly" of Armenian Church youth, held in Providence, Rhode Island, on January 12, 1946.
About Our Emblem
The emblem of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America, adopted at its inception, is to be interpreted as follows:
The radiations from the center of the cross symbolize the truths of the Christian religion that shine forth through the centuries.
The symbols under the horizontal bar of the cross are:
(right hand side) The double peaks of Mount Ararat, representing the Armenian people and its destiny. Ararat has been the silent witness of the victories as well as defeats of the Armenians through their existence as a people and a nation. Its representation of the ACYOA emblem means that the members of the Organization make the pledge of standing for the ideals for which the Armenian nation has always stood.
(left hand side) The United States eagle with its wings widespread and star above each wing. The eagle looks proudly into far distances and holds, as usual a batch of arrows. The eagle represents the United States. Its presence on the ACYOA emblem symbolizes the loyalty of the members of the ACYOA to the Constitution of the United States and to its principles of democracy and freedom.
The chain that encircles the cross on the emblem represents solidarity among the members of the ACYOA in their service to God and to people.
These symbols are designed on a shield which stands for the determination with which the objects of the ACYOA are to be carried out. The shield also stands for defense against dangerous encroachments.
It will be noted that the dominating feature of the emblem is the cross. This indicates the fact that Christ is our Lord and that to Him we owe obedience above all.
Circles of the Cross
At the National Young Adult Leadership Conference on February 4-6, 2000, His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, former Primate of the Eastern Diocese (1990-2018), called for a gathering of enthusiastic young adults in an effort to develop a new mission statement and direction for young adult ministry in the Diocese in the Armenian Church.
In a continued effort to meet the needs of young adults within the diocese, the Primate assigned the Central Council of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA), and the directors of the Department of Youth
Ministry to lead the innovative program.
Focusing on the five areas necessary for a complete youth ministry platform, worship, witness, service, education and fellowship, the Cross of Circles ensures that the ACYOA provides well-balanced programming that continues to pursue its mission of bringing youth of the Armenian Church closer to Christ.
Held every Palm Sunday, the purpose of ACYOA Day is to focus attention on the vitality of the ACYOA, its members, its accomplishments, and its role in the local parish community. It is also an opportunity for the ACYOA to promote its programs and honor individuals who have made an impact on youth in the Church. ACYOA Day is primarily celebrated in the local parish. Every Palm Sunday, members of the ACYOA Central Council travel to various parishes across the Eastern Diocese to discuss the importance of the ACYOA.
For more information on ACYOA Day or for assistance in organizing an event in your church, contact email@example.com.
O Lord Our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life, give us, the youth of the Armenian Church, we beseech you, the wisdom to know, to love, and to serve you in our personal lives severally, and in the corporate life of our organization. You who lead all people in the way, lead us, your children, that we may be able to serve the Church through our people, with courage and vision, and in the faith of our illustrious forefathers. Inspire us, O Lord, and open our eyes to your light, that we may cherish and profit by the heritage which our forefathers have left to us, and that we may be aware of our responsibilities. Fill us, O Christ our God, with your Holy Spirit, that we may be the obedient and unselfish servants of the will of our heavenly Father, to whom, together with you and the Holy Spirit, is befitting glory, dominion and honor, now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
I solemnly promise and declare upon my honor, that as a member of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America, I shall, to the best of my ability, be a faithful member of the Armenian Church; shall be a devoted upholder of the Armenian cultural heritage; shall be a loyal citizen of the United States of America; and I shall diligently abide by the objectives, policies, and decisions of the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America. I shall not strive for personal recognition and pleasure, but will serve our Church, our community and our country, for the greater glory of God.
The ACYOA Bylaws set the guiding principles, objectives and policies of the ACYOA, and are designed to help active ACYOA chapters in their ministries, as well as guide aspiring ACYOA chapters as they go through the formation process.
At the 2023 New Jersey General Assembly & Sports Weekend, the 2022 ACYOA Bylaws were passed, accepting revisions to the pre-existing bylaws last revised in 2011. The ACYOA Bylaws Committee, chaired by ACYOA Central Council alumni Talin A. Hitik and comprised of ACYOA alumni spanning generations, were responsible for proposing three substantial, exciting new pillars aimed at increasing the reach and impact of the ACYOA:
Transitioning of the ACYOA's membership dues structure to a Stewardship Program
Opportunities for creation of Regional ACYOA Chapters
Opportunities for creation of ACYOA Campus Groups -- university and college affiliates of established ACYOA Seniors Chapters.
For more information and guidance on how to implement these changes into a current or future ACYOA chapter, refer to the ACYOA Bylaws Guidebook.