J.O.Y. (Junior Orthodox Youth) For 3rd to 6th Graders


The Junior Orthodox Youth, or JOY, is a ministry to 3rd through 6th grade children of the St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church.

The mission and goal of the JOY ministry is to lead our young people into experiencing the Holy Orthodox Faith.

By developing a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and becoming active sacramental members of the living church, our young people will be equipped with tools necessary to assist them in their journey toward salvation.

By laying a foundation of faith at this age, the young people will have something that will guide and strengthen them

as they progress into junior high and high school.

As Orthodox Christians, we believe that God reveals Himself through Holy Tradition and Scripture. Worship is the sacramental expression of these, and is thus a very important element in ministering to our young people. It is important for JOY children to be active sacramental members of the Church.

Fellowship is the way Orthodox Christians integrate their faith with daily life. It is sacred when Orthodox Christians gather together in the Lord’s name. The relationship of the Holy Trinity is the perfect model of Fellowship. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share perfect communion and exist in perfect love. By gathering together on fellowship, and by experiencing this love, we emulate the relationship of the Trinity, and develop our life in Christ.

Young people serve God by serving the Church. For Orthodox Christians, service to God and community is the way of life; the way of living one’s faith. As Jesus Christ our Lord said: “Let your light so shine for men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). For this reason, service is an integral part of the Orthodox Christian’s life.

Man is both a spiritual and physical being. The spiritual reality is not always expressed in the material world. In order to be true to oneself and to the Orthodox Faith, young people should strive to exemplify the faith. They must be a witness to their faith, offering a convincing word and verbal expression of this faith, to those they come in contact with.

The J.O.Y Child: 

The span from 3rd to 6th grade is a large one, and within it there are great variances in maturity.  A 6th grader is at a completely different stage of development than a 3rd grader; however, there is much that they share in common.  A well-balanced JOY Ministry program will provide activities that meet the needs of all children in the ministry.

Though all children in JOY Ministry share many common characteristics, it is helpful to look at some differences.  As adults, we need to keep these characteristics in mind as we prepare to serve our children.  Providing them with a supportive and accepting environment will continually help them build and strengthen their self-image in regard to God’s plan for them.

The 3rd to 4th Grade JOY Child: 

During this period of development, young children are exploring and refining skills learned at earlier ages.  Physically, they have all the basics down (running cutting with scissors, etc.) but the quality is not as precise as it is for the older child.  Intellectually, children are able to look beyond the surface of things to understand what is causing a certain result.  Their ability to understand feelings has matured, causing them to be less focused on themselves.  With this new understanding, they are now able to consider the feeling of others before acting.

The 5th to 6th Grade JOY Child: 

The pre-adolescent child is on the verge of some big changes in his/her life.  They are still children but may occasionally question certain childhood concepts or activities.  Physically these children are more skilled than their younger friends.  With the teenage years quickly approaching, some of these children will enter puberty during this pre-adolescent stage.  This can greatly impact how a young person perceives him or herself.  Social cliques become more prevalent at this age.  Although they still group themselves into same-sex groups, they are becoming more interested in the opposite sex.  Their ability to understand emotions continues to grow more complex, allowing them to process multiple feelings at one time.

The Four Circles: 

Our JOY Ministry integrates the following elements into all aspects of programming: Worship, Fellowship, Service and Witness.  We strive to see these elements not only as four separate entities, but as four interlocking circles that overlap and build on each other.

All children from the 3rd through 6th grades are encouraged and asked to become members of our JOY ministry.

A healthy JOY Ministry keeps these aspects in balance.

2016-2017 St. Thomas J.O.Y. Advisory Group,

Karin Broikos-Hippel, Angela Kappatos, Rania Pappas