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Telos exists to help Orthodox young adults and parishes discover talents and cultivate these gifts to build up one another and grow in Christ together.
In The Beginning…
The Telos Project began as a five year research project in 2017, exploring how Orthodox young adults and parishes engage one another, hosted by Hellenic College Holy Cross. In collaboration with our original pilot parishes, we developed a process that helps Orthodox parishes learn, work, and grow together to make sure young adults know they are loved by God and welcomed in the Church.
Here is what we have come to believe about young adult ministry…
Young Adults Involved
Young Adult Initiatives
Older Adults Involved
The Telos Impact
What We Believe
Excellent and effective young adult ministry is designed by young adults themselves
Parishes can be powerful places for young adults—providing belonging, community & meaning
Young adults have so many gifts and skills they want to offer parishes
Priests should not be expected to initiate and sustain young adult ministry by themselves
Parishioners eager to minister to young adults are more effective when they adopt certain frameworks and best practices
Investing in young adults is deeply rewarding—for young adults, for older adults, and for your parish as a whole
Young adults and parishes need one another for abundant life in Christ
The Telos Impact
How We Help
Telos has designed a one-year repeatable educational and coaching cycle that equips your parish to effectively engage young adults.
The Telos Impact
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Telos for?
- Telos helps teams at Orthodox parishes engage young adults
- We loosely define young adults to be between the ages of 23–29 but we don’t exclude those on the fringes of that demographic. Most importantly Telos focuses on the post-college age/stage of life, when young adults are first becoming independently established.
- Telos teams should consist primarily of young adults in this age range but should also include 1–2 “godparents”, older members there to shephard and mentor the team. There also needs to be a clergy presence and a parish council liaison on the team.
How long is Telos?
- Telos is a repeatable one-year cycle; from Pentecost to the following Pentecost, we offer teams an intentional process, coaching, and other tools to help you design and implement great ministry with and for young adults. And then we invite you to do it again the next year.
- Why year after year?
- Young adults become adults! And hopefully move into other ministry areas in parish life. So your parish is never without a ministry team for young adults, we support you in training new young adults year after year.
- It is our hope that your parish sees whole parish growth through engagement with young adults; this takes time!
What is coaching?
- We understand coaching for Telos to mean: the art and practice of inspiring, guiding, and equipping teams at parishes to move from where they are toward a greater depth and breadth of engagement of young adults.
- Coaching is not counseling, spiritual direction, consulting, or mentoring
- Our coaches are trained to listen, encourage, celebrate, affirm, and challenge teams. They are trained to help teams troubleshoot challenges and hold teams accountable to moving forward in their goals.
What kind of education does Telos offer?
- One of our educational offerings is a robust “adaptive design” process for the ministry context, which guides parishes through…
- listening/mapping exercises
- an all-day workshop we call “Telos Design Day”, where teams uncover and articulate a deeper understanding of young adult needs and realities, their parish’s realities, and then design creative initiatives through which their parish can better engage their young adults.
Want to learn more? This article gives further insight into the methodology of adaptive design that we utilize and teach.
- We have also compiled a collection of videos recorded by past Telos team members that teach ministry best practices. Themes include everything from team and meeting best practices (i.e how to run a meeting, understanding team roles etc.) to the varying ways we minister with and to young adults (i.e. fellowship, spiritual deepening, outreach, intergenerational ministry, etc.). Every team member will gain access to this library of resources and be prompted weekly to watch these short and engaging videos.
What if there are no active YAs at my parish?
- Telos does require a critical mass of YAs in order for it to be successful. If you can’t find that critical mass right now, we recommend you gather a group of older adults who really care about ministry for young adults and start getting to know young adults who are peripherally involved or in some way connected with your parish, or who walk through your parish doors. Get to know them for no other reason than seeking to understand who they are. If it seems it would be well-received, invite them to participate in your parish community.
- After a period of time getting to know young adults, reflect on the themes you hear and determine what your parish might need to do to better engage those young adults. If you are able to engage a core group of young adults, apply for Telos next year around Pascha 2024!
- Host a Telos Parish Workshop!
What if my parish doesn’t seem ready for Telos?
- Host a Telos Parish Workshop!! If you feel like your parish isn’t quite ready to take on the deeper work of becoming a Telos parish, but there is an appetite for something related to the engagement of young adults, we would love for your parish to host a workshop.
- For the Telos Parish Workshop, we send trained facilitators and all materials for a 3-hr workshop at no cost to you. This workshop is a beautiful reflective and formative experience designed to energize your whole parish around the need for ministry with and for young adults.
Is the demographic strictly ages 23–29?
We loosely define young adults to be between the ages of 23–29 but we don’t exclude those on the fringes of that age demographic. Most importantly Telos focuses on the post-college age/stage of life, when young adults are first becoming independently established.
How does Telos help us connect with the OCFs around us?
- Telos does not focus on college students for a couple reasons:
- OCF is designed to engage those in college and particularly those living away from home at college. It is a vibrant ministry geared towards those in this particular life-stage, a life-stage that is quite different from post-college. The gap of ministry in the Orthodox Church tends to be amongst the post-college young adult demographic and so Telos focuses there.
- That being said, many parishes are uniquely situated in college towns with a unique opportunity to connect with OCF chapters and minister to students, so conversation around how best to do so in these situations will occur during the tailored coaching calls.
How is Telos different from YA ministries like YAL Conferences, Connect Conference, “Orthodoxy on Tap”, and Metropolis/Diocesean young adult initiatives?
There are many AMAZING conferences and Metropolis/Diocesan level ministries that very effectively engage young adults both socially AND in their faith. We very much support the MANY ministries that do this. What these ministries are not designed to do is weave young adults into the life of the local parish. They are not designed to help parishes meet the needs of young adults or draw them into the life of a parish. This parish-based engagement is what Telos focuses on.
How much does Telos cost?
- There is no cost to participate in Telos; if you are accepted as a Telos Parish, the Telos Project will invest in your team through coaching, educational resources, and formative experiences such as Design Day; we are hoping this will be for the long term benefit and growth of your parish. All we ask in return is that your parish provide a modest budget for your young adults to use to fund their own activities.
- Similarly, the Telos Parish Workshop is free, apart from any refreshments you choose to offer participants; we send trained facilitators and all materials for a 3-hr workshop at no cost to you.
Schedule a Workshop Today.
Apply to Become a Telos Parish.
The Telos Impact
Initial Grant awarded to the Office of Vocation & Ministry at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to pioneer the Telos Project
Telos Pilot collaborates with 12 parishes to develop an educational model in which small teams build relationships with young adults and design new ministry for and with them
Telos Gamma expansion of the Telos Project adds 8 more parishes
Second Grant awarded to CrossRoad Institute to expand and scale the Telos Project to 20 additional parishes a year
Telos expands to add parish workshops, expanded cohort spots, and published learnings further spread the Telos Project throughout the US and Canada
The Telos Impact
The Leadership Team
Ann Mitsakos Bezzerides, PhD
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - CROSSROAD INSTITUTE
Ann has been active in youth and young adult ministry since 2003. She sees the Telos Project as an extraordinary opportunity to explore the faith development of an age demographic that has become her new passion as she follows the lives of CrossRoad alumni. The most exciting part of this project for her is that the real work will be done by people at the local parish level; she looks forward to many opportunities to learn from them!
DIRECTOR - TELOS PROJECT
Anna began her journey with CrossRoad as a participant in 2005; after a transformative experience at CrossRoad and subsequent alumni retreats, Anna was drawn to pursue ministry professionally. Anna earned her Masters of Divinity from Holy Cross School of Theology in 2013, emphasizing her studies in Religious Education and Youth Ministry. Anna has worked for CrossRoad Institute in many different capacities since 2011 including CrossRoad Summer Institute staff, Assistant Director and Co-Director, Telos Gamma Director, and Telos Operations.
Jenny Haddad Mosher, PhD
DIRECTOR, RESEARCH & EDUCATIONAL DESIGN
Jenny has worked across Orthodox jurisdictions as a retreat leader, a teacher, a teacher trainer, and in curriculum development. She also served as a grant writer for Orthodox social service agencies from 2011–2017. She experiences the Telos Project as an incredible gift—a chance to reflect honestly and act productively, cultivating mutual love and fruitfulness across generations in all of our parishes.
Telos Project Administrator
Originally from Boulder, Colorado, with a Masters and doctoral work in Education. Sarah currently lives in North Carolina with her husband and two teenage daughters, attending All Saints Orthodox Church in Raleigh, NC where they work closely with the youth and young adult ministries there, as well as partner with her Presbystera to create and distribute preschool and early elementary Orthodox educational materials. She is passionate and committed to building ministries that support youth and young adults in their growth in the faith.
Senior Clergy Advisors
Fr. Peter Orfanakos
Father Peter Orfanakos has served as pastor of the St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Orange, CT, since September 1996 and extensively in youth and young adult ministries on the local, Metropolis and Archdiocese levels since 1987.
Fr. David Smith
Father David Smith has served in the Orthodox Church for over 30 years, and has been the priest of St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church in Syracuse, NY, for the last decade.
What Happens Next?
The Telos 2023-2024 cycle has launched! Next application round opens Spring 2024. Prepare your parish for Telos by hosting a Telos Workshop!