Oratorical Festival

Welcome to the Saint Barbara Parish Saint John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Webpage!

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Saint Barbara parish Saint John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival will be a virtual festival this year, held over Zoom on Sunday March 7, 2021 at 2pm.

Only the speakers, judges, timekeeper, and chairmen of the festival will be part of the Zoom call. We are sorry that we cannot gather together with the whole parish in person, but we pray that can happen next year. We are also very sorry that we are unable to have an Elementary Division this year. 

Speakers in the Junior Division (Grades 7-9) and Senior Division (Grades 10-12) should register at https://www.goarch.org/-/st-john-chrysostom-oratorical-festival-forms-and-registration?inheritRedirect=true and send an email to Steven Yates (syates59@hotmail.com) to confirm your participation. The topics and speaker tips are available at https://www.goarch.org/en/oratorical .

Please select a topic and get busy writing your speech. 

Mr. Yates will hold a Zoom call the week before the festival for all speakers. In that call he will explain how the festival will work. Mr. Yates is also available to coach and assist, but not to write speeches. Feel free to email him to set up a coaching session. 

This year will be different, but God is the same always. And our faith in Him must be constant too. Please pray about the festival and understand that we will do our best to be as fair and inclusive as possible. 


2021 St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival Topics

          Junior Division (Grades 7–9)

  1. Discuss the challenges and opportunities of watching a church service that is live streamed.

  2. Prayer is called a “conversation with God.” Discuss the meaning of prayer in your life.

  3. During the pandemic, people noticed that our natural environment became cleaner. What can this teach us about our care for the natural world?

  4. Why is the Church still relevant, especially for young people, in our increasingly secular, post-COVID world?

  5. Choose one parable from the Gospel of Luke chapters 15 or 16 that is particularly meaningful to you and explain what we can learn from it.



    Senior Division (Grades 10–12)


  1. During the stay at home period of the pandemic, Orthodox Christians had to find ways to practice their faith without attending church in person or participating in parish activities. Discuss what you learned during those days.
  2. In July 2020, a Turkish court gave permission for Hagia Sophia to be converted from a museum into a mosque. Discuss the significance of Hagia Sophia in the history of Christianity and the power of monuments like it to inspire religious identity.

  3. We live in a highly polarized society – left vs. right, personal liberty vs. common good, and other issues where it seems everything is politicized. How are we as Orthodox Christians called to navigate this environment?

  1. St. Peter writes, “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16). What is freedom and how does it become a basis for being a servant?

  2. In the Psalms we read, “If you, Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you.” (Psalm 130:3-4, NRSV). Discuss how an Orthodox Christian understands sin, forgiveness, mercy, and repentance.

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 2021.  

The website is  https://www.goarch.org/documents/32058/3219459/sjcof_2021_topics_tips.pdf/fe150e60-d550-4dad-b7b7-9464e014c89f

More information concerning the National Oratorical Festival can be found here: https://www.goarch.org/en/oratorical

Feel free to contact Saint Barbara Parish festival co-chairman Steven Yates at syates59@hotmail.com or 860-304-6007.

May God continue to bless you all!


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