The mission and goal of the HOPE & JOY junior youth group and ministry is to lead our children (ages 5-12) to experience the Holy Orthodox Faith. Each HOPE & JOY meeting promotes the children's learning and development as Orthodox Christians, as well as bonding and fellowship with their peers. By laying a foundation of faith at this age, our children will have something that will guide and strengthen them through life. As a group, we do activities (crafts, service projects, fellowship) that are meaningful/educational.

  • For example, to celebrate the Epiphany, we read from a children's book the story of Saint John the Baptist, colored icons, and showed the children the Saint's icon in our church hall, answering their questions.

  • Another time we met just before His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos visited our church, and so we learned about the traditions associated with his visit; took a group photo and created a custom photo frame for him as a gift; and beautified the church by planting new flowers in planters at the front door.

We also meet outside of church to do good works in the community (for example, cheering on the athletes at local Special Olympics competitions).

Finally, we are always eager to:

  • Take part in important church events (example: participating in the Salutations services).

  • Partner with other ministries in their charitable efforts (example: collecting food items for Philoptochos and GOYA sponsored food drive).


All children ages 5-12 are encouraged to join HOPE & JOY - they'll have fun, make friends, and explore the faith!

Hope and Joy, 2019-2020


September 2019:

  • Ashley Joiner will host the meeting for the HOPE age children (age 5-8). Date & Time: Monday, September 9th, 630pm-730pm. Location: Church. Activity: Craft.

  • Cynthia O’Neill will host the meeting for the JOY age children (age 9-12). Date & Time: Saturday, September 7th, 3pm-6pm. Location: Cynthia’s Home. Activity: Pool Party, with pizza, chips and juice. RSVP to Cynthia by September 4th.


October 2019:

  • Stefania Whittington will host the meeting for the HOPE age children (age 5-8). Date & Time: October 5th at 1pm. Location: Cox Farms in Centerville, VA. Activity: Fall Festival  (petting zoo, hay ride, pumpkin picking, picnic, etc.) RSVP to Stefania. Also, older and younger siblings are welcome!

  • Katie Utley will host the meeting for the JOY age children (age 9-12). Date: & Time: October 12th at 4pm. Location: Zavazone in Sterling, VA. Activity: First, fun at Zavazone! Then, a treat at the nearby Chick-Fil-A! (Katie has graciously offered to pay for each kid’s Chick-Fil-A treat!) RSVP to Katie.


November 2019:

  • HOPE and JOY children will meet together. Host: Ashley Joiner. Date & Time: November 4th, 630-730pm. Location: Church. Activity: Craft.


December 2019:

  • Kristine Lorentz will host the meeting for the HOPE age children (age 5-8). Date & Time: December 2nd, 630pm-730pm. Location: Church. Activity: Learn about St. Nicholas and what you can do to remember and honor his feast day (which is December 6th); Do a Christmas craft related to St. Nicholas; Discuss and share ideas for how you can be more like St. Nicholas (e.g., pray for others, make Christmas cards for shut-ins or children at the hospital, earn money to donate to the needy, etc.)

  • Kristina Ayoub will host the meeting for the JOY age children (age 9-12). Date: December 14th. Location: The Zone in Ashburn. Activity: Have fun & lunch at The Zone! Arrive at The Zone at 12:00 PM – Kristina has negotiated a group bowling rate, so just say you’re with the HAGOC youth group to pay $8 for your child to bowl for 60min. At 1:00 PM, cheese pizza lunch will be served – Kristina’s treat! After lunch, children are welcome to play in the arcade if they brought money to do so. Pickup is at 2:00 PM. Please RSVP to Kristina by December 8th.


January 2020:

  • HOPE and JOY children will together attend the Loudoun County Special Olympics Annual Basketball Tournament to cheer on the amazing athletes competing! Tournament games will be held at Independence High School in Ashburn, VA on Saturday, January 4th. Contact Ashley Joiner with questions about this activity.


February 2020:

  • Both HOPE children (age 5-8) & JOY children (age 9-12) are invited to "Family Game Night"! Stacy Reilly is hosting this fun fellowship gathering at church on Saturday, February 1st from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bring your favorite board game or card game to share and play with your family + other HOPE & JOY families!

  • JOY kids (ages 9-12) are invited to an ice skating event followed by pizza lunch! Location: Ashburn Ice House. Date & Time: Feb 22, 12:30pm-2pm. Details: Please mention HAGOC at the check-in desk to receive your group discount ($8 for admission and skate rental). Pomodoro's pizza lunch to be provided by the hosts, John and Maria Drapas, inside the rink. RSVP to Maria by Feb 20.


March 2020:

  • HOPE and JOY children will meet together. Ashley Joiner will host this meeting at church, with Denise Lansdell joining to help the kids make Easter Cards for the Prison Ministry, as well as Resurrection Egg Kits (should any of the children not have kits). Date & Time: March 9th, 630pm-730pm.

  • As a ministry attend the March 20th salutations services.


April 2020:

  • No activities scheduled for April 2020


May 2020:

  • Kristine Lorentz will host the meeting for the HOPE age children (age 5-8). Date & Time: May 4th, time TBD. Location: Church. Activity: Learn about special mothers in the Bible, as well as notable saints who were mothers; Make a Mother’s Day card/gift; Have a snack.

  • Cynthia O’Neill will host the meeting for the JOY age children (age 9-12). Date & Time, Location, and Activity: TBD. 


For more information, please contact Ashley Joiner

Hope and Joy, 2018-2019

Oct 1 2018 meeting at church: For our meeting activity we did one recommended by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America called “Building a House for Jesus”. The objective of the activity is for young people to realize that their body is a temple where Christ lives, and that they need to continually clean it so God can shine through them in all they do. The activity worked like this: children were broken up into small groups and each group was given a brown paper bag filled with a variety of materials (e.g., play dough, straws, stickers, yarn, popsicle sticks) and asked to build a beautiful house for Jesus using only the materials in the bag. Each group showed off their creation after it was complete, describing why it was a good house for Jesus to live in. After the presentations, I told them that while all the houses are beautiful, I knew of an even more beautiful, more perfect house – each one of them. We talked about how Christ lives in each of us, and thus it’s important to comport ourselves in a godly way.

Nov 5 2018 meeting at church: We created Christmas cards to distribute to our parish's Yia Yias and Papous via PAREA. Christmas music played while the children hand-made dozens of sweet and festive cards. This is a memorable annual tradition that the children enjoy taking part in! Fr. George took part in the meeting, too!

Dec 3 2018 meeting at church: We made a craft to take home and share with our families -- one that reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas. Using everyday materials (paper plate, construction paper, tissue paper, and yarn) each child made a Baby Jesus sleeping in His manger. The craft is designed to hang in a window -- this way, the night sky is part of the scene, just as it was in Bethlehem on the night of Jesus's birth! Fr. George took part in the meeting, too! Also, across the month of December, Hope & Joy took its turn hosting the post-liturgy coffee hour. Thank you to the families in our ministry who contributed goodies and/or helped with cleanup.

Jan 5 2019 special activity: Hope & Joy took part in Special Olympics VA's Volunteer2Cheer program. We met as a ministry at Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg to cheer on some extraordinary athletes competing in the 2019 Basketball Invitational Tournament.

Jan 7 2019 meeting at church: In honor of Theophany, we colored and assembled a giant poster of the icon. Because Theophany translates to “appear” or “reveal”, a puzzle felt like an appropriate medium for the children to work in. Fr. George took part in the meeting, too!

Feb 4 2019 meeting at church: We made a craft to take home and share with our families – a door hanger in the shape of a cross, decorated with doves and colorful hearts, and featuring the John 3:16 verse.

Mar 29 2019 special activity: Hope and Joy participates as a ministry in the salutations service on Mar 29 2019 at 7:00 pm. When you come, please bring with you a cereal box donation to support the food drive that Philoptochos is sponsoring on behalf of Loudoun Hunger Relief! Please note that our participation in the salutations service replaces a regular meeting in the month of March. Also in March, look out for a table during coffee hour at which Ms. Denise Lansdell will have materials for the children to make Easter cards as part of the OC Prison Ministry.


April 2019: Hope & Joy did not have a regular meeting at church in April in light of the many activities surrounding Pascha taking place during the month. We did though as a ministry host the post-liturgy coffee hour across April. Thank you to the families in our ministry who contributed goodies and/or helped with cleanup.

May 6 2019: meeting at church: We created a trail mix snack inspired by the creation story. Here's how it worked: Since on the first day, God created the light and the dark, the first ingredient in the snack was Oreo cookies. On the second day, God separated the water on the top from the water on the bottom to create sky and ground, and so we added Frosted Mini Wheats cereal to our snack. On the third day, God made the green grass, the trees, and the flowers (green and red M&M’s, as well as stick pretzels). God also made the fruit and the berries (raisins and blue M&M’s). On the fourth day came the sun and the moon and the stars (orange and yellow M&M’s). On the fifth day came birds and fish (Goldfish crackers). On the sixth day, God made man and woman as well as the animals that walk on the ground (animal crackers). Finally God rested on the seventh day (marshmallow “pillows”), blessing and making it holy.

Jun 3 2019: meeting at church: We made cards for Father's Day. On the cover of each card was a picture that we colored in of a father from the Bible. On the inside of the card we wrote about a memorable characteristic of that father, and we likened him to our own dad (or grandfather or other father in our life to celebrate). For example: Abraham is regarded as an outstanding leader - I look up to you, Dad!


The Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church is under the dominion of His Eminence Evangelos, Metropolitan of New Jersey, www.nj.goarch.org