This Australia Day long weekend the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia is having it's 9th Youth Conference right here in Brisbane. It kicked off last night with Archbishop Stylianos and the Governor of Queensland opening the conference. It will finish on Sunday with the ordination of local boy (well now a bit older than a boy) Nic Brown into the priesthood.
After the official opening in the Church, last night was the formal opening dinner attended by deputy-premier Anna Bligh among other dignitaries. This youth conference sees the largest gathering of delegates at any National Youth Conference: over 480 from across the country. It's great to see so many enthusiastic young Orthodox people gathered together at the one place.
Today was the main 'conference' part of the conference, which included speeches by the Archbishop and a Professor from the University of Athens concentrating on the theme of 'Youth in Contemporary Society'. Afterwards we broke up into groups to discuss the papers and each group was to formulate a statement to make to conference.
I had previously been selected to lead one of the groups, and I had the job of welcoming everyone and starting, leading, and guiding the discussion within the group. Also it was my nerve-wracking duty to present our 'statement' to the conference after lunch. I'm not that good at public speaking, but I think I got through it ok and delivered it satisfactorily, although shakily.
Question time after the statements (where people could ask, mainly the Archbishop, any questions) was kind of comical, in a cringing Ben Stiller-movie kind of way. Nearly every quetion was not relevant to either the conference or the theme, and most weren't actually questions at all; they were really points or statements the person made, along the lines of "My question is to do with *insert irrelevant topic without really asking any single question*".
Understandably the Archbishop got quite frustrated with the questions and statements, but I think he did quite well to not lose his cool and belittle the person too much (of which he is very capable of doing). Heck, I even felt really frustrated at the apparent lack of understanding about what 'ask a single question relevant to the conference and theme' means.
After the Conference formalities we all took a break before heading to a Vespers service and a dinner-dance at the Mt Gravatt Church. During the service a gecko managed to crawl all the way up onto my head before someone in the pew behind be alerted me to presence the critter, which I promptly brushed off.
We just got home from that tonight and are looking forward to travelling down to the Gold Coast tomorrow. At the end of the conference I will post photos into the gallery which has been very neglected in recent times.