Over 500 Attend Parish Life Conference at the Village
Over 500 faithful from the Eastern Dioceses of New York and Washington, D.C. and Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic participated in the historic 2014 Parish Life Conference (PLC). Held at the Antiochian Village (AV) in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, it was a testament to the vision of Metropolitan Philip, who founded AV to foster fellowship and spiritual growth in the Orthodox faith. The grace of the Holy Spirit emanated throughout the conference, which was focused on the theme of loving God and neighbor, and was hosted by St. George Orthodox Christian Church of New Kensington, PA, with Fr. Meletios Zafaran.
Participants at the PLC had the unique opportunity to pray at the gravesites of St. Raphael and Metropolitan Philip. Father Anthony Yazge, the AV host priest and camp director, guided the group on an uplifting tour of the St. Raphael and St. Thekla shrines, and led a Supplication Service to St. Raphael.
Attendees were also able to enjoy another one of Metropolitan Philip’s fulfilled visions – The Antiochian Heritage Museum - and the fascinating exhibits currently on display. "The Eternal Spring" exhibit, displaying some of the art created by Leila Chokheli during the Communist occupation, perfectly complemented the presentation given by one of the Keynote Speakers, Leila’s son and world renowned artist, Niko Chocheli. Niko had received many of these works of art from his mother, along with poetry and prayers, after he had moved to the United States. Mother Justina and Sister Kathrina from the Convent of St. Thekla in Glenville, Pennsyvlania, offered an enlightening presentation.
The dedicated AV staff offered a plethora of choices of entertaining activities unique to the AV venue, including: horseback riding, challenge course, archery, geocaching, swimming, Flight 93 Memorial Tour, and golf at Champion Lakes. They lit up a huge bonfire one evening, complete with scrumptious smores, and 4th of July fireworks, and all enjoyed the fellowship of the night.
The children were delightfully entertained and spiritually engaged at the Children’s Workshop while their parents attended the Conference. They also cooperated on a service project with the Teen SOYO to beautify the gazebo behind the Conference Center. The teens painted the gazebo and prepared the grounds around it for the children’s garden. The children planted ground cover, and decorated the gazebo garden with the beautiful mosaic stones that they had enjoyed creating in the workshop.
Additionally, the teens made power packs which they delivered to Saturday's Kitchen in Johnstown as a service project to the local community. In between all the organized PLC activities, they enjoyed the freedom to play pick-up games of their favorite sports on the AV grounds. There was terrific PLC participation by the teens, with 125 registered!
What a treat to resurrect the choir concert of past PLCs. People enjoyed the music of each of the participating choirs, and especially enjoyed the grand finale where all the choirs joined together to form one big, unified choir, filling the room and the hearts of the hearers with lovely hymns.
The banquet and hufli are always a favorite PLC event. Participants danced the night away to the entertaining music of David Hakim and his band, and also enjoyed other treasured activities such as creative art projects, oratorical presentations, bible bowl, teen talent show, and vendor displays.
On behalf of Fr. Meletios Zafaran and St. George, heartfelt thanks is offered to the AV staff for their gracious hospitality, and to everyone who participated at PLC 2014. It truly was a testament to Metropolitan’s vision, bringing his love of Orthodoxy full circle.