Archive for 2010

To Serve Him Without Fear

December 10th, 2010    |    No Comments »

“When one is called by God, it is natural to feel nervous, or unworthy,” writes Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.  “But the Nativity story shows that when God calls us, such fears are immaterial.”

On Thursday, January 6, 2011, the Armenian Church will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In Armenian tradition, this feast day commemorates not only the birth of Christ, but also His baptism by John the Baptist. The latter is remembered through the “Blessing of Water” ceremony, which follows the Divine Liturgy on January 6.

Click here to read the Primate’s Christmas message.

The Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi (15th-century manuscript).

Commemorating December 7

December 7th, 2010    |    No Comments »

Today, as America observes the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, we remember the terrible loss of life inflicted by the surprise attack of Imperial Japan in 1941—and we also honor the indomitable spirit of determination and valor that emerged as a result, leading America into World War Two and eventual victory over the Axis powers.

For Armenians, the date December 7 has an additional, and sorrowful, resonance. For it was twenty-two years ago today that  Armenia was rocked by the earthquake of 1988.  None of us can ever forget that day, nor can we forget the moment we first heard the heart-sinking news of the catastrophe which left thousands upon thousands of our countrymen dead or injured.  May our merciful Lord remember them, and comfort all those who survived those painful days.

As in the case of Pearl Harbor, we should also recall that it was not only the spectacle of death and destruction that made the earthquake the defining event for a generation of Armenians. In the homeland and throughout the diaspora, the aftermath of the earthquake roused a spirit of determination and resolve, of courage and compassion.  The nations of the world offered their humanitarian outreach and expertise to help a small country in a time of critical need.  These realities still inspire us, and touch our hearts, a generation later.  And let us not forget that good work in the same spirit continues in Armenia, to this very day.

In the Eastern Diocese, the Fund for Armenian Relief, a humanitarian organization established in the aftermath of the 1988 earthquake, today continues to serve the people in Armenia and Karabagh through its many development programs in the fields of medicine, education, and child protection, among others. To learn about FAR and its work, click here to visit the organization’s website.

Days after the 1988 earthquake, relief workers and local residents gather at the Church of the Holy Saviour in Gyumri, Armenia (photo courtesy of FAR).

2011 Calendar: Online Epilogue

December 1st, 2010    |    No Comments »

We are pleased to announce the publication of our 2011 calendar, which began arriving in homes last week.

Titled “Follow Me: In the Footsteps of Our Lord, Through the Holy Land,” the calendar guides readers on a journey through the milestones of Christ’s life and ministry—from the Holy Grotto in Bethlehem to the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee, the Jerusalem countryside, the “Way of Sorrow,” Mount Tabor, and the Mount of Olives.

The calendar also provides a look at the centuries-old Armenian presence in Jerusalem. Photographs capturing the sacred rituals of the Armenian Church take readers to the heart of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and its Sts. James Cathedral.

Lastly, the 2011 publication continues to build on the Diocese’s theme of “Vocations: The Call to Serve.” Excerpts from the gospels emphasize Christ’s call to walk in his footsteps and to take up pastoral ministry.

We hope the 2011 calendar will be an inspiration to you, and an encouragement to hear Christ’s call.

Of course, with just 12 pages of images, we were limited in the number of photographs we could feature in the calendar. To further explore the Holy Land through the lenses of our photographers—Arman Minasyan,  Garo D. Nalbandian, and Kevork Nalbandian—we invite you to visit our online photo gallery.

If you are not on our mailing list, please click here to subscribe. A copy of the 2011 calendar will be sent to you free of charge.

Thanksgiving Every Sunday

November 19th, 2010    |    No Comments »

Thanksgiving, writes Archbishop Barsamian, is more than simply a pious tradition. It is one of our points of contact with Jesus Christ himself: a spirit that our Lord exemplified, and shared with those around him.

It is, above all, a spirit that Jesus urges his followers to embrace, and act out in our daily lives.

In the Armenian Church, Thanksgiving is a feeling that flows through every prayer—and especially through the Holy Badarak.  Thanksgiving is something that happens every Sunday…

Click here to visit the Primate’s “Writings” page and to read more.

The Miracle of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (mosaic detail, Galilee)

Join the Conversation

October 25th, 2010    |    No Comments »

Since the launch of our new website last summer, the Eastern Diocese has been expanding its online outreach to better serve our readers in an ever-advancing digital media age.

In August, we developed a redesigned e-newsletter featuring more compelling graphics and a reliable format accessible on all major e-mail platforms.

In September, our “friends” list on Facebook logged 1,000 names. We continue to be inspired by the many comments and questions—and by the steady stream of friend requests—we receive on a daily and weekly basis.

Recently, we’ve also introduced a Twitter account (www.twitter.com/EasternDiocese) to share the latest news about the Eastern Diocese and the global Armenian Church, and to initiate dialogue about other Armenian-related issues of interest to our followers.

Our networking on Facebook and Twitter also allows us to better connect users with other Armenian Church organizations, from local parishes to other dioceses to Holy Etchmiadzin.

This month, we set up a Posterous page (www.easterndiocese.posterous.com), where users can upload photographs and video from their computers, or directly from their mobile phones. To kick-off this effort, we announced a photo contest on the topic of “What is Armenian about your day?” We invite our readers to share digital photos on the site by e-mailing them to post@easterndiocese.posterous.com (please include a caption in the subject of your e-mail, and your full name in the body). We hope to feature the best entries in our e-newsletter in the coming weeks.

Of course digital media is always evolving, and reshaping the way we communicate with each other. Our goal is to keep up with these changes while continuing to bring our readers relevant, useful, and interesting information about our church.

Lastly, an enterprise like this can only succeed with the full-participation of all our readers. We welcome your feedback and suggestions, and we encourage you to join the conversation on our website, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Twitter, and anywhere else we may end up next.

Feast of the Exaltation: Taking Up the Cross

September 10th, 2010    |    No Comments »

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (khachverats) is one of the five great Tabernacle Feasts of our church: the day we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The Armenian Church celebrates the feast day on the Sunday closest to September 14—which would be this coming Sunday, September 12.

As Christians living in the 21st century, recalling the rich historical accounts of how the cross was ceremoniously elevated can deepen our appreciation of this most precious symbol of our faith.  As we celebrate the feast day and watch its beautiful ceremonies unfold, we might ponder not only past events, but focus on the meaning of the Cross itself in our present lives.

Click here to read more.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian and Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian surrounded by altar servers during the "antasdan" service at Holy Cross Church of Washington Heights, NY.

A Note to Our Readers

September 9th, 2010    |    No Comments »

As many of our web visitors learned yesterday, the website of the Eastern Diocese was hacked on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 8. We regret that as a result, people coming to the site expecting to find the peaceful message of the Armenian Church were instead greeted with a message of hate directed at Armenians and Christians in general.  We acted quickly to restore normal operations, and we are thankful that we were able to do so within several hours of the incident.

The admittedly unpleasant situation did have a kind of “silver lining,” however.  In the course of a difficult afternoon, we were extremely touched by the outpouring of concern and support from so many readers, who have come to rely on the Diocese’s website and who visit it frequently in the course of their daily activities. In yesterday’s circumstances, our readers’ kind messages of solidarity were overwhelming—and very much appreciated.

As always, your enthusiasm and goodwill encourage us to do our best for the Armenian Church and its people.  Thanks.

Megan Karanfil Reflects on Her Internship

July 23rd, 2010    |    1 Comment »

When I was asked to write this article, it really hit me that the time I have left is limited.  I cannot believe I have to return home in two weeks.  The time has flown by, yet so much has happened.   My sense of my Armenian Christian identity has expanded immensely through the various educational and cultural programs provided as a part of my summer internship at the Eastern Diocese.

Our schedule has included Bible studies, Armenian language and history classes, and weekly lunch meetings with clergy.  We have also traveled to St. Nersess Seminary and St.Vartan Camp with the Primate. We even put on a talent show for the Armenian Home for the Aged in Flushing, Queens.  For the first time in my life, I was able to speak with survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

As Diocesan interns, we participate in the AGBU New York Summer Internship Program.  Only about half of our AGBU group is composed of American-Armenians.  We have students from so many places, including Argentina, Australia, Russia, Cyprus, and even Uzbekistan.  Because of this, I am learning not only about my Armenian heritage, but other cultures as well.  This has changed my perspective on many issues faced in my day-to-day life.

I learned about the Diocesan internship program last year at a conference and immediately was interested.  I am currently working toward a degree in biochemistry in hopes to be a physician’s assistant.  Even though my tasks at the Diocese don’t directly relate to my field, the experience has been more beneficial than anything else I could currently be doing.  I am putting together many projects in which I get to read the Bible every day.  That is probably my favorite part.  Being in scripture daily, along with Bible studies and morning services several times a week, has thoroughly reinforced my faith.

The work I’m doing at the Diocese really means something.  It has given me real work experience in which many of my skills have considerably advanced. One of my projects is to put together a Bible study for ACYOA chapters.  My hope is that a Diocesan-wide Bible study can be put into place to spiritually connect our youth while further developing their relationships with God.  I am also writing bi-weekly Advent reflections for the upcoming Christmas season with themes from verses found in our lectionary calendar.

I was recently appointed co-chair of a committee that is making a book to commemorate the ACYOA’s 65th anniversary. Therefore, another part of my job is to sort through archives for pictures and memorabilia to use in the commemoration. This project not only will be preserving the memories of our past generations, it will raise money to support ACYOA’s promising future. Looking through the archives, I have found that the youth are not very different today than they were 50 years ago.  We all have similar questions and struggles.

My relationship with God has always been a vital part of my life, and I have passion for serving the Armenian Church. I have held the position of chair of my local ACYOA chapter, and am currently serving as vice chair.  Teaching Sunday School has been by far the most rewarding experience in my service to the Church.  I strive to help instill in my students a strong love for God and an appreciation for the Armenian Church. Even though my purpose in service to the church is to give and not to receive, I feel I have gained vastly more than I have contributed.

Megan Karanfil is interning in the Department of Youth and Education.

From a World of Numbers to Matters of Faith – Intern George Macarian Shares his Summer Experience

July 20th, 2010    |    3 Comments »

About 10 minutes ago I was told by the Diocese’s Communications Department that my deadline to submit my internship blog was today at 3:00 p.m. It is now 2:15 p.m., but I must admit that I am not phased by this task because the past five weeks that I’ve spent in New York as an AGBU intern at the Diocese have provided me with enough experiences and opportunities to fill more than just a single blog post.

In today’s economic and political climate, internships and entry-level job positions are scarce, but with the aid of AGBU’s New York Summer Internship program and the Diocese Summer Internship Program,  young Armenians can find themselves working in the field of their choice at a time when most college students are unable to. The AGBU places young Armenians in an environment where they can learn to grow culturally, spiritually, and professionally, while simultaneously interacting with others from around the world.  I can not imagine a better way to bring together the young Armenian diaspora than having young people come to the greatest city in the world to enhance and enlighten their career aspirations. It was obvious from day one that this experience would be one to remember for a lifetime.

I first heard of this AGBU internship in 2008 while attending an ACYOA Chapter Workshop in Boca Raton, Florida. I was immediately interested in the idea of interning in New York; however, I decided to attend Camp Nubar instead, which proved to be a great experience in itself. It wasn’t until a year later that I decided to pursue the internship through the Eastern Diocese.

Upon entering the Diocese on the first day of my internship, I felt a warm sense of welcome which continued to express itself in the everyday work environment. As a fourth-year accounting major, I was assigned to work in the accounting department, and at first I thought that it would not be as beneficial to me as working for an accounting firm or hedge fund, but I soon realized that was not the case.  From the first day, I was assigned the tasks of working on accounts payable, accounting software, cash operations, and open income contracts, while my friends, who were interning at other companies, were doing much more mediocre tasks.

The accounting team at the Diocese has been very friendly and helpful in making me accustomed to the everyday financial operations.  Besides enhancing my accounting skills, the Diocese provided me with other great outlets from which to learn and grow. As an active church member, ordained sub-deacon, and newly-elected ACYOA Central Council member, I thought that I knew all there was to know about our church, religion, and culture, but as I discovered there is always much more to learn.

By participating in weekly Bible study and lunch with various clergy from our Diocese, we really became better acquainted with the clergy and improved our theological knowledge. We also traveled with Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, to St. Vartan Camp and St. Nersess Seminary, where we shared our experiences as AGBU interns.  The internship schedule also includes Armenian language and literature lessons once a week, which really help since living at university for three years has weakened my Armenian speech, reading, and writing. Finally, the history lessons we receive at the Diocese’s Zohrab Information Center help incorporate the study of culture, religion, and Armenian identity with professional skills, which makes for a very educational and balanced program.

Besides working and learning at the Diocese, the AGBU also provided all interns in the program with educational and social events ranging from professional presentations to mentoring opportunities and sightseeing trips around Manhattan. The AGBU even arranged a day for us to give back to the community by hosting a talent show at the New York Armenian Home where I had the opportunity to speak with a Genocide survivor.

It has been a great privilege so far to socialize and interact with the interns from four of the six continents living together at New York University apartments. We have really grown close as a family and truly encompassed the vision of Armenian writer and poet William Saroyan by “creating a new Armenia.” I feel blessed and humbled to have had the opportunity to participate in the AGBU New York Internship Program this summer, and even more so to have worked in the Eastern Diocese. I hope this program continues for years to come and benefits others just as much as it has benefited me.

George Macarian interns in the Diocese's accounting department.

Summer Days at the Diocese – The Interns’ Perspective

July 16th, 2010    |    No Comments »

For the Diocese’s three full-time interns, the long, hot days of summer have been anything but lazy.

The three interns – Nicholas Burdman of St. Leon Church in Fair Lawn, NJ; Megan Karanfil of St. Mary Church in Washington, D.C.; and George Macarian of St. David Church in Boca Raton, FL – have spent the last five weeks working in the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, the Department of Youth and Education, and the Department of Finance respectively. They have contributed to a number of projects, ranging from cataloging and digitizing books to learning how to update the Diocese’s new website, recording accounts payable, verifying contracts for the Diocese’s facilities rentals, compiling images for various publications, and developing Bible study resources and Advent reflections.

They also attend morning prayer, Bible-study sessions, and classes on Armenian language and heritage, and take part in weekly lunch meetings with clergy. Earlier this month, they accompanied Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Diocesan Primate, on visits to St. Nersess Seminary and St. Vartan Camp. And on Thursday, the interns met with Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese, who spoke to them about the Armenian Church’s ecumenical involvement and answered questions about his work with the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

The three interns are living in student housing at New York University, along with summer interns participating in the Armenian General Benevolent Union internship program.

Click here to read Nicholas Burdman’s reflection on his experience at the Diocese, and check back next week for essays by Megan Karanfil and George Macarian.

The Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian with interns (from left) Megan Karanfil, George Macarian, and Nicholas Burdman, on the steps of St. Vartan Cathedral.