By Giuliana Harris
As YAL makes its return this summer, the Advisory Board, Chairman, Executive Board, and Steering Committee have been working for months for its 2019 debut. Chairman George Anagnostopoulos, who was appointed by His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, has been committed to both the Metropolis throughout his youth and young adulthood. In speaking with Anagnostopoulos, he said, “The ministries of the Church have shaped who I am today. Through my involvement in GOYA, FDF, Saint Nicholas Ranch Summer Camp, Ionian Village, and the Saint John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival, the friendships I’ve made through the years have grounded me and made the church a central focus in my life.”
After high school and looking back at entering young adulthood, Anagnostopoulos described: “…I realized my peers and I did not have a ministry that was specifically tailored for our age group. When I heard the Metropolis of San Francisco was working to revitalize this important ministry, I knew I had to become involved and offered my support.” From there, he was appointed Chairman. In summarizing the overall support and drive of the committee as a whole, Anagnostopoulos stated, “I am fortunate to have a dedicated team as well as our Advisory Board for their guidance and endless support. It takes a village to organize a conference of this size and magnitude in a short amount of time. This YAL Conference is truly by young adults, for young adults, and we are so excited to revitalize this ministry for mine and future generations.”
In sharing more about the YAL Conference, Anagnostopoulos spoke with me and thoroughly detailed the planning process, what participants can expect, and what he hopes to see for the future of YAL.
How did the committee come together? What has the process been like in revitalizing YAL?
I announced the 2019 YAL Conference at this year’s FDF Opening Ceremonies in Ontario, CA. The following week our steering committee application went live on the Metropolis website. Within two weeks we received almost 60 applications of individuals across the nation. Many committee members are personal friends and acquaintances I’ve made over the years through other Metropolis and Archdiocesan events. There are also roughly 25% of the committee who have never had a leadership role in the church. This committee is all about bringing young adults together because the Conference is really created by young adults for young adults. I believe we’ve assembled one of the most talented, well-rounded teams and it is because of everyone’s unwavering dedication and commitment that we have the support and structure necessary to relaunch this ministry and execute an incredible Conference.
What has been the most impactful in planning the conference for you as Chairman?
It’s been amazing to see firsthand how our 60-person Steering Committee has worked so well together despite only having one opportunity to meet in person since we launched the Conference. Due to everyone’s busy schedules with full time school and work commitments, the team has effectively overcome the communication barrier of working remotely and is in sync with one another. The Steering Committee has believed in this Conference from the beginning, simply because they felt the calling to serve the church and their fellow young adults. I am deeply and personally grateful to all of them.
I’ve also enjoyed witnessing my peer’s fervor and excitement for the Conference. The registration response we’ve received so far has been incredible and beyond our expectations. I relish reading emails from participants across the nation conveying their enthusiasm and gratitude to us and the team for organizing this event. It positively impacts all of us to realize this ministry is larger than ourselves. The theme of this year’s Conference is Proclaim – the Conference truly represents the youth coming together to proclaim our faith as one. It also serves as a statement that we assert the need for this vital ministry to be restored for our generation!
What can participants look forward to in attending the YAL conference?
The YAL Conference will be an all-inclusive, well balanced, three-day weekend of faith, fellowship, worship, service and culture. Participants can expect to be engaged with exciting workshops on faith based and contemporary topics given by Metropolis clergy and the Family Wellness team. We will also have a famous guest speaker who will be announced soon! Social events include a beach day, formal grand banquet glendi, talent show, evening on the Queen Mary and attending the Long Beach Greek Festival. Conference attendees will also participate in our Rise for Hunger event, where we will package 10,000-20,000 meals on-site for the less fortunate. We hope to foster community amongst one another by giving back to this worthwhile effort. There will also be free time for participants to venture outside of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and visit the local shops, dining and nearby attractions. This is an incredible opportunity for hundreds of young adults from across the country to be together Labor Day weekend in sunny Southern California!
How do you foresee the future of YAL in the San Francisco Metropolis?
I believe the future of the YAL ministry is bright. The most challenging obstacle was bringing this ministry back after 17 years to our great Metropolis. With any new ministry, it takes time to build it up and create a loyal sense of community between all stakeholders; the executive team, the steering committee and the participants. My hope and prayer is the success of this year’s Conference leads to our Metropolis hosting this conference annually and helps initiate revitalizing the YAL Conference ministry across the nation so every holiday weekend, there is a Conference for young adults and their parea to attend.
Email the author: Giuliana