The Eastern Prelacy concluded its 2019 National Representative Assembly (NRA) last weekend. Clergy and lay delegates representing our parishes joined the Executive Council (Religious and Lay) at The Sheraton Conference Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, hosted by Whitinsville’s St. Asdvadzadzin Church.
The Assembly was called to order on Thursday afternoon, May 16, by Jack Mardoian, chairman of the Executive Council, and began after the opening prayer by the Prelate Archbishop Anoushavan and the approval of the credentials committee. Words of welcome from Rev. Fr. Mikael Der Kosrofian, pastor of the host parish, greeted the delegates and guests, noting that it is an honor and privilege for Whitinsville to host this 2019 Assembly. Raffi Samkaranian, chairman of the Board of Trustees added his words of welcome emphasizing that this is the first time St. Asdvadzadzin has hosted an Assembly. “I was skeptical at first,” he confessed, “but under the leadership and supervision of Der Hayr and the amazing committee led by Barbara Berberian and Hagop Antranigian everything smoothly fell into place.”
Representing Bishop Daniel Findikyan, the Primate of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Reverend Father Aved Terzian read a message from the Primate offering warm greetings on behalf of the Eastern Diocese. “It is an honor for me to represent His Grace Bishop Daniel and to greet all of you with his warm words wishing you success as you begin your deliberations,” Father Aved said.
Elected to serve as co-chairmen of the Assembly were Aram Sarafian, from Soorp Khatch Church in Bethesda, Maryland, and Simone Topouzian from St. Sarkis Church, Dearborn, Michigan.
Elected as the secretaries were: Andrew Asadourian (English), from St. Gregory Church, Granite City, Illinois, and Rev. Fr. Torkom Chorbajian (Armenian), pastor of St. Gregory Church, Granite City, Illinois.
In his keynote address Archbishop Anoushavan thanked the host community for undertaking the responsibility of hosting this year’s Assembly. He also expressed thanks to the Prelates of the Western and Canadian Prelacies, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and Archbishop Papken Tcharian, respectively. He also acknowledged and thanked the two Prelates under whom he served, Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, of blessed memory, and Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan.
He also thanked the Primate of the Eastern Diocese, His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan for “his sincere and open-hearted collaboration. His Grace was ordained and consecrated as a Bishop in Holy Echmiadzin just last Sunday, and I would like to ask Reverend Father Aved Terzian, who is representing the Echmiadzin Diocese today, to convey our Christian love and best wishes to Bishop Daniel as he assumes his Episcopal duties.”
Archbishop Anoushavan continued his sweeping and inspiring address to the Assembly, touching upon many themes about national identity, ecclesiastical mission, and the future. “By reflecting through this prism, we should persevere in our service, using the wise direction of our predecessors, and we should reinvigorate the plans of this spiritual institution, in order to strengthen our internal structure and to further advance our ability to reach the needs of our people.” His Eminence spoke about the Great House of Cilicia describing it as “a great House and great Family. It is filled with the Breath of God and is constantly occupied with the mission of service to our people,” he said.
His Eminence spoke at length about the community, identity, faith, and the younger generations. The Prelate emphasized that “the primary mission of the Church is to spread the message of the Holy Gospel of the faith which we received from our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Apostles and Church Fathers, and then to implement the Gospel message in our daily lives.”
Archbishop Anoushavan told the Assembly that we need “to serve the Youth, who are the guarantors of the continued existence of our people…in addition to their physical and intellectual development, spiritual formation is not only important but imperative. For me, there is a great advantage because I inherited from my predecessor prelates a rich supply of materials for this purpose.” He then went on to describe a new mission that was started two years ago for our youth—the “Salt and Light” program, that has already been formed in five parishes and eventually all of our parishes will fully participate in the “Salt and Light” mission.
The Prelate’s Keynote Address also gave recognition and tribute to all of the organizations, including benevolent, social, athletic, and youth groups who serve the community. “Even with the existence of these notable organizations and groups, there is an enormous challenge facing the Armenian community—the alienation of our youth, for various reasons, from their active participation in the life of the Church.” He described the solution as being “a collective mission,” and he emphasized that “addressing this challenge and to find positive solutions will require serious discussions and follow-through action plans.”
In closing, His Eminence described the community as “a great family, with religious, political, charitable, cultural, and athletic fundamentals. . . the Armenian Christian presence must stand dominant in its centuries-old values and for its rights, and with the benefit of current conditions produce more abundant results for our youth. Then, our youth will be able to more keenly set their eyes upon the symbol of our Armenian heritage, Mount Ararat, and higher still above, to the promise of eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.”