NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVE ASSEMBLY CONVENES AFTER A CHALLENGING YEAR
The National Representative Assembly of the Eastern Prelacy was held last Saturday, May 22, in a virtual meeting via videoconference for second time in a row as the world is slowly emerging from an unprecedented pandemic.
With 65 out of 77 eligible delegates in attendance, a quorum was achieved. Simone Topouzian, Chairperson, called the meeting to order. Janet Haroian served as secretary.
His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate, offered the opening prayer, following which he invited His Holiness Catholicos Aram I to address the virtual assembly.
“We are at a critical juncture in human history,” His Holiness said, in reference to the upheavals, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, that have radically changed our life as we knew it.
In his address streamed live from Antelias, His Holiness praised “the spirit of dedication of our parishes, under the supervision and leadership of Srpazan and the Prelacy.” The NRA, he said, is “an important occasion, first, for sharing our experiences, perspectives, and expectations; second, for reviewing and assess with a critical spirit the work of the Prelacy; and third, for highlighting and identifying the priority areas of the period forward.”
The Catholicos underscored the role of “witness” the Prelacy and the parishes play in the community. “What the Prelacy does, what the parish does is essentially being a witness… witness in the profound sense of the word, with a strong dedication and commitment.”
His Holiness had words of praise for Archbishop Anoushavan as “a good and dedicated pastor… at the service of his flock.” He also expressed his appreciation for the clergy and Executive Council members, “who did their utmost under these difficult circumstances.” The Catholicos also conveyed his gratitude and blessings to all committees, donors, friends, and supporters, who in one way or another have done their best.
The Catholicos also offered the broad outlines of a roadmap, calling on the Prelacy and parishes to:
- Reorganize efforts. He urged “to try to be more selective by identifying programs, concerns, areas of involvement” that “are relevant,” making a more efficient use of resources.
- Think, “how can we transform the programs we have into outreach?” A program should not become self-centered and self-contained, His Holiness said. Programs should be people-oriented and community-transforming.
- Expand the scope of relations. The pandemic was detrimental to relationships, His Holiness said. “I very much admire that Srpazan has been very active establishing relations with the parishes.” This mattered because, the Catholicos said, “the most important relation of the Prelacy is with the parishes.”
In his closing remarks, His Holiness quoted from the final pages of his book, “Turning to God:”
“In this chaotic world, we have little time to be with ourselves, with our families, even with God. Often, we leave God alone. God always approaches us. Are we disposed to approach Him? God always turns to us. Are we ready to turn to him? Indeed, without God our life is empty and meaningless.”
His Holiness explained:
“Turning to God means turning to the Creator of Creation, to the source of Times, to our Heavenly Father… Turning to God in chaos, turning to ourselves, created in the image of God…”
Following the Catholicos’ message, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan vowed to continue his mission at the Prelacy, reaching out to every member of the community under its jurisdiction.
The Prelate highlighted the resilience of the church and the community in these daunting times. “While it is true that we were surrounded, attacked, and exposed to multiple threats during the past year, nevertheless we did not surrender, we were not crushed, and we did not lose our ability to deal with these deadly pressures, anxieties, and worries,” Archbishop Anoushavan said. “Yes, this pandemic has separated us physically, yet at the same time, whether driven by fear or by a dormant authentic need to re-establish our relationship with our heavenly Father, it has rekindled in us our Faith and genuine love.”
The remarks by the Prelate were followed by the roll call made by Ms. Haroian, the secretary of the meeting. The Executive Council report and budget, as well as the financial report, were approved as submitted by unanimous consent, after which delegates voted for five new Lay and three Religious Councils members. The outcome of the election saw Houry Daghlian reelected for a new term at the Lay Council, joined by new members Tamar Kanarian, Raffi Ourlian, Hrant Jamgochian, and Hagop Khatchadourian. Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian and Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian were reelected to the Religious Council, joined by new member Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian. Earlier this week, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I gave his blessing and ratification to the elections.
Upon the invitation of NRA Chairperson Topouzian, outgoing Lay Council member Karen Jehanian addressed the assembly, evoking her life-enriching experience as the first woman elected to the Council 23 years ago. Ms. Topouzian also thanked outgoing Lay Council members Chris Parnagian and André Markarian for their service.
Archpriest Fr. Antranig Baljian led the closing prayer, following which the meeting ended on a high note with a stirring rendition of “Giligia” by Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian and Rev. Fr. Hrant Kevorkian. Facebook Twitter
PRELATE THANKS U.S. PRESIDENT
His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, saluted the courageous decision of President Biden to declare the 1915 massacres of 1.5 million Armenians a Genocide and thanked him on behalf of the community and parishes he presides over in the Eastern United States.
“History was made today,” Archbishop Anoushavan said. “In these times of turmoil and despair, President Biden has demonstrated that the first test of leadership is to stand up for justice and the values that make America the land of the free and the home of the brave. By becoming the first sitting U.S. President to recognize the Armenian Genocide, he has taken a huge step towards making the world a safer place, living up to the principles upon which the Founding Fathers built this wonderful country that has been a home away from home for millions of Armenians after the Genocide.”
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The Prelate’s Message, April 4
Today, Christendom celebrates the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the awesome victory of the Divine, invincible power over all heavenly and earthly powers, in a most unique and amazing way, as we read in the Scriptures, “My ways are different from your ways” (Isa 55:8). By Friday, Jerusalem, the city of peace, was in turmoil and confusion. Maddened crowds, instigated by their leaders, were yelling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mt 27:23). The perplexed governor in vain was pretending to have authority to overrule the verdict, and the followers of the betrayed Master were in total despair. By Saturday, the spiritual rulers, not content with the crucifixion, asked Pilate to seal the tomb, claiming that the fearful and hopeless Disciples, who fled away upon their Master’s arrest, might come and steal the body from the guarded tomb. This was the last of all ironies, which Pilate reluctantly accepted and imposed in order to please them. When all human means were exhausted to silence and annihilate the Righteous One, Lo! On Sunday, the Buried One who once taught “I am the Resurrection”, now proclaimed it in action by rising from the dead.
The Resurrection, the eternal dawning of Faith, Hope and Love, girded the dispersed and despairing disciples, who in their turn, illuminated the minds of people everywhere dwelling in the darkness of ignorance. Going out into the world, the disciples transformed mindsets to transcend the visible and material approach to human existence and to understand life’s ultimate goal in the light of Divine perspective. Indeed, the Resurrection unveiled the mystery which lies beyond death, and filled the hearts of the human beings with joy that we, mortals, are rejuvenated in our immortality with our heavenly Father’s Grace, and are pilgrims from life to Life.
And today, here we are to celebrate the renewal of our faith in the spirit of the Risen Lord, who spared nothing for our redemption. He literally took upon Himself our sinful nature and cleansed it with His sacred blood. For our sake He carried the wages of sin (Rom 6:23), and through His death, crushed the stings of death (cf. 1 Cor 15:55), providing us with tangible signs that He is alive and always with us, as He promised to His Disciples (Mt 228:20). Moreover, He speaks to us, and patiently waits for our positive reaction in response to His sacrificial love on the Cross.
In this context, I would like to draw a picture derived from the world of science. One of the marvelous inventions of technology is the GPS, which speaks and helps us to get to our destination, and always recalculates when we fail to follow its instruction. By changing the wording of this wonderful instrument G(lobal) P(ositioning) S(ystem) to G(od) S(peaks) P(ersonally) to us and never gives up when we sin and we distance ourselves from Him, we will discover the harmony between Intellect-Science, and Soul-Faith. Indeed, God always had personally spoken with mankind, the crown of His Creation. In the Garden of Eden, God personally spoke to our foreparents. God personally spoke to the Patriarchs Noah and Abraham. God personally spoke to the Prophets Moses, David, Isaiah, and through them with His people. And in the fulfillment of time, God personally spoke in the very person of Jesus Christ, and through the apostles to the world at large.
It is so amazing that in the Armenian Church we practice a very unique feature: the reading of the Gospels is always preceded by the choir’s brief solemn chant, “ Ասէ Աստուած – God speaks,” reminding us that not only in past but also today, God is speaking to each of us. Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, God always speaks with us through different means, by Mother Nature, our consciousness, the Scriptures and moreover through our Lord Jesus Christ, who solemnly announced, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). Of course, there are many ways to think and to act; there are many religions teaching us about truth; and there are many sciences promising us prosperous life. Yet, as the shining sun, penetrating the very heart of the earth and oceans, gives life to each species and preserves their uniqueness, likewise the Risen Lord, penetrating each person’s life, transforms our personality, character, behavior, and makes us more perfect in our outlook, in our relationship with our spouses, children, peers, neighbors, colleagues, and with society at large.
By committing ourselves to our God-“GPS,” He does not merely lead us from border to border, from land to land, from planet to planet, but from time and space to eternity and infinity, to enjoy and celebrate life forever in Him. With this understanding, let us celebrate the Resurrection of the Crucified and Risen Lord. Let us welcome the Risen Lord and with renewed faith follow Him who promised “That you may have life, and a more abundant life” (Jn 10:10). Let us truly sing the song of Hope and Life “even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Ps 23:4), and with thankful hearts, let us praise the life-giving All-Holy Trinity, Amen.
An Easter Message
“Sing a new song to the Lord”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I greet you all in the sacred love of Whom, out of His love, shed His holy Blood on the Cross, and through His triumphant Resurrection freed us from the terror of death and showered us with the hope of Eternal Life, and Joy.
Click here to read the full 2021 Easter Message of Archbishop Anoushavan
Ordination to the Priesthood
Deacon Roland Telfeyan will be ordained to the holy priesthood of the Armenian Church this Saturday and Sunday, February 13 and 14, at St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York. The ordination services will be celebrated by the Prelate, His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan. Deacon Roland’s sponsor is Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church. The Godfather of the ordination is Rev. Fr. Vahan Kouyoumdjian.
The process of ordination will begin Saturday afternoon with Vespers and the Order of Calling to the Priesthood. The candidate walks on his knees down the main aisle of the church as a sign of his humility and readiness to serve God. He is escorted by his sponsor and two priests. Through a series of questions the Prelate confirms the worthiness of the candidate and his willingness and ability to serve as a priest in the Armenian Apostolic Church.
The next morning, in the tradition of the Armenian Church, the ordination service will take place intertwined with the Divine Liturgy, as this is the liturgical context in which the priest will serve most visibly. The ordination will be livestreamed.
Deacon Roland Telfeyan was born and raised in New York and grew up in the Armenian Church.
He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and music theory, with concentrations in computer science and church music, and worked as a senior research scientist in semiconductor manufacturing and as a senior trading strategist and quantitative financial mathematician on Wall Street.
In 2019, he was ordained deacon by Archbishop Anoushavan in New York. He has been studying with Archbishop Anoushavan and the brotherhood and scholars of the Armenian Prelacy and the Catholicosate of Cilicia.
He lives with his wife Maro and daughters Anahid and Hasmik in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they all serve as church school servants.
November 19, 2020
IN THE NAME OF A DESIRABLE FUTURE
Message from His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian
Since Sunday, September 27, the Armenian people worldwide have been fulfilling the national unity that we dreamed of for so long, alarmed over the attack that threatened the existence of Artsakh by Azerbaijan, endowed with superior forces and weaponry. On Monday, November 9, the loyal unity of the Armenian nation unfortunately unraveled following the news of the agreement signed by the present government to stop the current Artsakh war, which went beyond the concessions that had been expected over the past three decades.
The architect of the war was obvious: the executioner nation of the Armenian people, which was prepared for this day to complete its unfulfilled plan. Departing from the current political and military conditions and leaving aside Armenia, it had created the illusion that a dawn of good neighborhood was about to open if the issue of Artsakh was solved. History confirms that trusting the vision of a prosperous Armenia to the “benign” executioner nation would only pave the Yerevan-Der Zor highway.
Hard as it is to accept the imposed reality, the many aspects of which are still unknown, dear fellow Armenians, without accusing, hurting, threatening each other as individuals who follow different ideologies, creeds or conceptions, with broken hearts but unbreakable will, let us listen and understand each other as members of the Armenian family scattered throughout the world and, perhaps profiting from our errors, we may build the future we all wish.
If we collectively review the Armenian History of the last 45 days, if we may call it such, our all-Armenian experience following September 27 proved what a great people we are when Artsakh, Armenia and the Diaspora collaborate, earning the admiration of all those nations that silently witnessed the present-day odyssey of our martyred people. The firm support of the people in our homeland to the government and the troops, while in the Diaspora, outside of fundraisers, the volcanic eruption of patriotic spirit in our new generation, the demonstrations and gatherings organized enthusiastically, the prayers and the lighting of candles, the effective work in different countries to prevent foreign companies from supplying armaments and weapon components to our executioner nation; in one word, the realization of “Armenia above everything” was an unprecedented development that amounts to a miracle, which confirms the particular character of our people’s existential struggle and sacred peregrination.
TODAY more than ever, the badly wounded heart of the Motherland and the Diaspora needs the continuation of this new collective life and its further development. The fire that is burning the house will not be put away with criticism and self-justification, but with selfless responsibility to first prevent the calamity from spreading and then to rebuild what was destroyed in a more robust and imposing manner.
The people are masters and servants of the past, the present and the future of the homeland. The farmer, the leader and the epic hero are born of the people. Therefore, every church and lay organization, even when in a leading position, are accountable to God and the people. More than in any other generation, the inner supreme force of the current government lies in the expression of the people, which was fulfilled two and a half years ago with the Velvet Revolution, without spilling blood, earning the admiration of the entire world. If there is anything exemplary in the legacy the previous “corrupted” government left, it would be its acquiescence of the people’s will without any violence. The present, fateful national crisis requires that the government, endowed with the people’s support, accept the people’s will and trust the mobilization for a new collective force.
The sacred reconstruction mission has been an unabated principle for the Armenian Prelacy of the Eastern United States especially since the tragic earthquake of 1988, through the Nerses the Great benevolent organization set up in Yerevan. Following the way of the Cross to the vision of the Resurrection, we continue that mission with same and even more dedication to make Armenia, the land of Eden, desirable to the entire humankind.
Prelate, Eastern United States
A Message from the Prelate March 12, 2020 Dear Faithful, In light of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic and the declared state of emergency in many states throughout our Prelacy, I am writing to reassure you that the health and well-being of our church community is our highest priority. For this reason, we wish you to know the following:
- Being the Lenten Season, the parts of the Divine Liturgy which would normally entail direct contact (i.e. Holy Communion; Kiss of Peace and kissing of the Bible) are not performed for the duration of Lent. Further information about the post Lenten period will be forthcoming.We urge you to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control:
- Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.Avoid close contact with people who are sick.Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash your hands. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.