Date: July 10-13, 2013
Location: Shipshewana Town Center, Indiana
Theme: “Unity in the Body of Christ” – 1 Corinthians 12:12
The 2013 Midwest Regional Family & Youth Conference of the Diocese of South-West America was indeed a memorable one and a great testament for the Malankara Orthodox Church. This was the second time the Churches of the Midwest region consisting of parishes in Chicago, Detroit, Saint Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Iowa were able to gather together. Almost 400 participants, including both clergy and laity spent 4 days at the Blue Gate Garden Inn & Town Center in Shipshewana, Indiana from July 10-13, 2013.
This year’s conference theme was taken from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 12:12, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Throughout the weekend, this relevant theme was broken down into many related topics such as discovering our talents, our individual role and part in the Body of Christ, our relation to others, and the future of the Church. The main speakers stressed the need and challenged all the faithful to be a part ofthe change and not simply desire change within the Body.
Along with the presence and able leadership of the South-West Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Alexios Mar Eusebius, the conference was blessed by the presence and inspiring leadership of the Delhi Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Dr. Yuhannon Mar Demetrios, Bangalore Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Dr. Abraham Mar Seraphim, along with Rev. Fr. Aju Philip Mathews, Assistant Vicar – St. Mary’s Orthodox Cathedral, Philadelphia, and all the respected priests and deacons from the Midwest Region.
While prayer, meals and fellowship were done together, this year’s conference sought to provide for the spiritual needs of age-specific groups including Adults, FOCUS, MGOCSM, and Sunday School children, with separate main sessions held for all groups simultaneously and forums to discuss their own respective needs and future goals. The conference also featured four unique workshop topics including: What Happens to My Soul When I Die, Bioethical Issues, Divine Images & Comparative Faiths. A lively entertainment program featuring colorful and creative programs by all the different parishes was also presented at this year’s conference. The conference concluded with a retreat and the celebration of the Divine Liturgy celebrated by His Grace Mar Demetrios in the presence of the two other Metropolitans, clergy, and all the faithful.
The success of the conference is attributed to the dedicated efforts of the 2013 conference committee including Rev. Fr. Daniel George (Director), Rev. Fr. Abi Chacko (Convener), Rev. Fr. Zachariah Skariah (Program & Curriculum Coordinator), Mr. Paul Jacob (Secretary), Mr. Gibson Mammen (Treasurer), Mrs. Sibyl Chacko (Coordinator), and all the Priests, Deacons and office bearers, and especially the parish representatives who were at the forefront of the conference planning. This dynamic group was even more strengthened by the dedication and hard-work of numerous volunteers of all age groups and parishes in the Midwest Region who worked together as one, fulfilling the purpose and mission of this year’s theme: “Unity in the Body of Christ.”
The Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Alexios Mar Eusebius, commended the efforts of all who worked behind the scenes to make the conference a blessed experience and announced the appointment of Rev. Fr. Abi Chacko, Vicar of St. Mary’s Orthodox Church, Oaklawn as the 2014 Conference Director along with Rev. Fr. Christopher Mathew, Youth Minister of Chicago & Rev. Fr. James Cheriyan, Assistant Vicar of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, Detroit as the Co-Conveners.