St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival

The purpose of the St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival is to gives our youth an opportunity to learn, write and speak about their Orthodox Faith, Church, and Heritage. This process enhances their understanding and appreciation of their identity as Greek Orthodox Christians and cultivates spiritual growth and maturity. This activity celebrates our youth and their incredible insights about the Orthodox Faith in their lives. The program is called an Oratorical Festival rather than a contest to minimize the competitive spirit and emphasize a joyful learning experience. The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Memphis has a long history of participation in this event and has had many participants advance to the national level over the years.


The 2017 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival will be held in the Annunciation Education Center at 9 am on Saturday, February 11, 2017.  We are planning to make this year’s festival the biggest and best one yet!  The locations and dates for the District, Metropolis, and National Oratorical Festivals will be announced soon.


As in the past, we will have three divisions of speeches:


Elementary Division - This division is non-competitive (i.e. no judging) and open to Annunciation Sunday School students in grades 4 - 6. Students may choose any topic of faith (Jesus, Prayer, Icons, etc.) and speak for 60-90 seconds. Be creative!


Junior Division - Open to Grade 7-9 students of the Annunciation Sunday School. Students will write and deliver a three to four minute speech on one of the Junior Division topics. Division finalists will advance to the District Festival.


Senior Division - Open to Grade 10-12 students of the Annunciation Sunday School. Students will write and deliver a four to five minute speech on one of the Senior Division topics. Division finalists will advance to the District Festival.


All participants in the Annunciation St. John Chrysostom 2017 Oratorical Festival must register no later than March 5, 2017. Speech draft texts must also be submitted no later than March 5, 2017. This is a firm deadline!


2017 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Topics


Junior Division (Grades 7–9)


1. The opening petition of the Divine Liturgy is “In peace let us pray to the Lord.” What is this peace, and why do we need it to begin our prayers?


2. St. John Chrysostom said, “Our alms are judged not by the measure of our gifts, but by the largeness of our mind” (Homily 52 on the Gospel of Matthew). Discuss how even small acts of kindness and generosity can make a difference.


3. Discuss the role of bread and its symbolism in the Bible and the life of the Church.


4. The Orthodox Church venerates saints and martyrs every day. Talk about a saint whose life inspires you to be a better Orthodox Christian.


5. Explain why the Orthodox Church focuses more on the resurrection than it does on the passion and suffering of Christ.


Senior Division (Grades 10–12)


1. The gap between the rich and the poor in the United States and worldwide is arguably wider than it has ever been. How should we as Orthodox Christians address such terrible financial inequality?


2. Although many people diet for health or vanity, the discipline of fasting is found in many religious traditions. What is the difference between dieting and fasting, and why is it important?


3. Psalms are an integral part of matins, vespers, and many other Church services. Talk about a psalm that impacts or influences your life.


4. The Lord commanded us not to create idols (Exodus 20:4), yet people continue to do so. Discuss the kinds of idols people make or worship today and the response that an Orthodox Christian should have when confronted by them.


5. Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). When no political party represents genuine Christian teaching, how does an Orthodox Christian navigate political conversations and make political judgments?


Please Note:  Everyone who is interested is encouraged to visit the Archdiocesan Website for topics, speaker tips, and to view the official festival rules, which have been updated for 2017.