From dinnertime on Tuesday, December 27, through lunchtime on Thursday, December 29, 2016, Dr. David Ford, Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, helped lead the annual Winter Youth Camp for about 65 Orthodox high school and college students, which was held at the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp on the western flanks of the famous Pike’s Peak. He was invited by Fr. Anthony Karbo, priest of the OCA church in Colorado Springs (STOTS Class of 1995), who has been leading this youth group for over ten years, as they meet for Summer and Winter Camp every year. Also assisting in supervising the retreat were two other St. Tikhon’s alumni: Fr. Benjamin Huggins, priest of the OCA church in Durango, Colorado (STOTS Class of 2013), and Fr. David Morrison, priest of the OCA church in Bozeman, Montana, (STOTS Class of 2013). Fr. Zachary Lynch, (STOTS Class of 2011) and priest of the OCA church in Pueblo, Colorado, came with his Matushka Natalia and their two younger children for the morning on that Wednesday – their three older children were participants during the entire event.
Over the three-day event, Dr. David led five one-hour sessions with the participants. Tuesday evening he shared about the life and wisdom of our beloved St. John Chrysostom, and for the next four sessions he basically led brainstorming sessions with the group – with a “scribe” recording our thoughts on newsprint on an easel – on such topics as “Where Did You Come From?”, “Why Are You Here?”,“To Whom Do You Belong?”, “How Does God Speak to Us?”, “What Kind of Life Do You Want to Live?”, “What Are Some Characteristics of the Christian Life?”, “Why Should We Preserve Our Virginity until Marriage?” “What Should We Look For in a Spouse?”, “What Are Some Characteristics of a Good Marriage?”, “What Are Some Characteristics of a Godly Single Life?”, “What Are Some Characteristics of Godly Monastic Life?”, and “Where Will Opposition Come From?”
In the final session, Dr. David presented some of the historical background of the origins and development of the Sexual Revolution over the last 150 years, to help explain the situation in which we find ourselves in contemporary America, in which two people of the same sex now have a legal “right” to get “married” anywhere in the U.S. And he suggested ways for us to “speak the truth in love” in the face of such developments in our society that run so counter to traditional Christian moral beliefs and practices.
On the way from the airport in Denver on Tuesday, Fr. Karbo, Fr. Morrison, and Dr. David paid a visit to Fr. Kirill Williams, priest of the oldest Orthodox Church in Denver, who is another St. Tikhon’s graduate (2008).
Back in Colorado Springs after the Youth Camp, Dr. David spoke at Fr. Karbo’s parish, after Vespers, on the topic of “Key Passages on Marriage from the Orthodox Tradition through the Centuries,” using the collection of passages given in the recently published Glory and Honor: Orthodox Christian Resources on Marriage (SVS Press, 2016), which Dr. David and his wife Dr. Mary Ford contributed to and co-edited. Much to Dr. David’s surprise and delight, two more St. Tikhon’s alumni came to this event – Fr. John Armstrong, with his Matushka Stacy and their son Andrew; and Fr. Alexander Vallens, with his Matushka Maria and their two children. Current St. Tikhon’s Seminarian John Parker also attended.
All in all it was a wonderful four days in the Rocky Mountain State. Dr. David, sharing about the retreat stated: “I gained much from the experience with the youth, and through the renewed contact with so many of our beloved St. Tikhon’s alumni.”