The Diocese of Los Angeles and the West has four official organizations, each blessed by the Archdiocese of North America. These organizations are as follows:
Teen SOYO: Formerly called Junior SOYO, this organization serves the youth of our Diocese from the ages of 13 to 19 years.
Young Adult Ministry (YAM): Formerly called the Fellowship of St. John the Divine, this organization serves the young adults of our Diocese above the age of Teen SOYO and is the nature progression for the member of Teen SOYO.
Antiochian Women: Formerly known as the Ladies Society, Ladies Club, Junior League and other names, based on those adopted at the local parish level.
Purpose of the Organizations
The purpose of these organizations is to provide a common basis for enhancement of the spiritual educations, fellowship and ministries of the members. Each of the organizations has it own ministries. The organizations ministries transcend all levels of the Structure of the Organizations.
Structure of the Organizations
The organizations are structured on a 3-tier basis. At the local parish level, all three of these organizations should exist. At the Diocese Level, the organizations have officers and members, consisting of the delegates from the various parish-level organizations. At the Archdiocese Level, the organizations have officers and the delegates are made up of the officers from the Diocese Level. In this manner, there is local, regional and national structure for each of these organizations.
Participation in the Organizations
Every Orthodox Christian in the Diocese is eligible to participate in the organizations relative to their age. There are no other prerequisites, other than being an Orthodox Christian in one of the parishes in the Diocese. Everyone should commit to participating in the respective and appropriate organization and should attend the meetings and be a contributing member of the organizations. With regards to the Fellowship and the Antiochian Women, it is possible for a lady to be a member of both organizations.
Meetings of the Organizations
The organizations hold meetings on three levels. First, at the parish level, there are monthly or bi-monthly meetings of each of the organizations. Second, on the Diocese Level, there are meetings held at both the Parish Life Conferences (either Memorial Day weekend or Fourth of July weekend) and at the Annual Delegates Meetings (usually the last part of October). Third, on the Archdiocese Level, there are meeting held at both the National Conferences (odd numbered years) and the off-year summer meetings (even numbered years) (both usually in late July), as well as meetings held in the winter (usually in early February).
Who Should Participate in the Organizations?
Every Orthodox Christian from the age of 13-19 should participate in their parish level Teen SOYO and should attend and participate in the Diocese Level Teen SOYO Meetings at both the Parish Life Conferences and at the Annual Delegates Meetings.
Every Orthodox Christian above the age of 19, to approximately early 30s, should participate in their parish level Young Adult Ministry and should attend and participate in the Diocese Level Young Adult Ministry Meetings at both the Parish Life Conferences and at the Annual Delegates Meetings.
Every Orthodox Christian woman above the age of 19 should participate in their parish level Antiochian Women and should attend and participate in the Diocese Level Antiochian Women's Meetings at both the Parish Life Conferences and at the Annual Delegates Meetings.
In many cases the young women, above the age of 19 to approximately early 30s will elect to participate in the Fellowship and then, later in their lives, evolve to participate in the Antiochian Women. This is certainly an acceptable path.
In short, the evolution of “belonging” should be Teen SOYO to Young Adult Ministries to Antiochian Women (for the ladies).
Who Else Should Attend the Meetings?
The diocesan hierarch has appointed Spiritual Advisors (Priests) for each of the organizations. However, in addition to the Spiritual Advisors, every member of the clergy of the Diocese is encouraged to attend and participate in one of the organizations meeting at both the Parish Life Conferences and the Annual Delegates Meetings.
Remember, the organizations, any organization, are only as good as their participants and their goals and objectives for the organization. Your talents are important to the organizations. You are an individual, with individual knowledge, skills and abilities. It is the synergy of the knowledge, skills and abilities of all of the participants that make the organizations successful.
Participating in a Diocesan Organization and their ministries is a very important part of your Orthodox Christian Life.
If you have not already, then start now and commit yourself to being a participating member of the Diocesan Organizations.