The Mobilization of the Orthodox Youth with the Motto “Environment, our Common Home”

The Albanian Orthodox Church – November 2013

Stephanos Ritsi

On Friday November 15th and Saturday November 16th 2013, a group of young people gathered at the Cathedral of the Resurrection in Tirana for a meeting hosted by the Church’s office Diakonia Agapes. Representatives from the youth groups of different cities and villages and the Orthodox Theological Academy, came together to learn more about the environmental crisis that confronts our entire race. The activity was organized in the framework of the project “Young people working together for a better future” financially supported by HEKS, Switzerland. This project aims to promote positive youth participation in community life. Its main activities consist in training and workshops for fundraising, community outreach and environmental protection, peer-to-peer education, support of the youth initiatives and mentoring and coaching.

The focus of Friday’s session was learning about the environment and our role in interacting with creation. There were two keynote addresses. The first presentation focused on the responsibility each and every Christian has to refer creation back to the Creator (God). The participants delved into the issue of the ecological crisis as a spiritual problem and came to understand as Metropolitan Zizioulas says, “Unless we attack man’s self-centeredness by stressing that man is there in creation not in order to posses it, but in order to refer it to God, the ecological problem will increasingly be with us, and the consequences will be very serious indeed. Only when man learns to be the priest of creation can we hope to adopt the right attitude to the solution of the ecological problem we are facing today.”[1] The second presentation was about introducing participants with some basic concepts about environment and environmental education especially for children and youth.

On Saturday the emphasis switched from learning to action in an attempt to mobilize the youth of our Church to make a difference. Two representatives from Green Line Albania came and shared the “Let’s do it Albania” initiative with the youth. After their presentation the youth broke up into groups to brainstorm about how to mobilize their respective cities into action. Every group decided to participate in the “Let’s do it Albania” initiative. This initiative is a nationwide movement to dedicate Friday November 22nd as a day where the citizens of Albania will take action and clean their country. We are expecting 230 people to show up on Friday November 22nd to help clean Albania! The groups have decided to start by cleaning the area surrounding the Churches in their city. Diakonia Agapes is going to provide all the needed supplies to make this day a success. So, let’s Go Green Albania and in doing so let’s take the first step in fulfilling our role as stewards of Creation.