The Church of the 318 God-bearing Fathers has an active youth programme. We meet twice a month. On the first Sunday of each month for Sunday School for younger children (up to 10) and on the third Sunday of the month for the Varangian Guard Youth Club for children 5 and above.
The Varangian Guard Youth Club is primarily for fellowship. The children meet after church where they play, eat together and then have catechism activities.
The club is named after the Varangian Guard. This was an elite bodyguard to the Byzantine Emperor based in Constantinople. The bodyguard was made up of foreign mercenaries: Vikings, Rus, Slavs and even Anglo-Saxons that emigrated after the Norman Conquest. The name is appropriate for three reasons: (a) we are called to be ‘good soldiers for Christ’ (Tim 2:3); (b) we are a diverse community made up of all different nationalities; and (c) our community is within the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Varangian Guard also dressed up in splendid armour and got to wave around ferocious looking axes … something that children (and adults) still like to do today.
The catechism is divided into nine different levels with eight tasks for each level. The children are awarded badges after each level. The children start as recruits and after completing all nine levels are awarded the Christ-bearer (Χριστόφορος) badge.
Once the children complete all of the levels of catechism they become an Akolouthos (ἀκόλουθος). The children then assist with leadership roles, teach the younger children or take part in their own discussion activities together. If the children wish to further their understanding of the faith they then join our adult education activity.
We encourage all of the children of our community to attend the archdiocese youth camp each year. This is a summer camp for 9 to 18 year olds and takes place near Much Wenlock in South Shropshire. It is a fantastic event with a whole range of activities where children get to meet other Orthodox Christians from the all over the archdiocese. They make lifelong friends there and it helps to strengthen their commitment to the Faith.