Saturday, September 25, 2021, was a beautiful day by any definition. The air was warm, the sun was shining... and about 25 members of Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic church -- of varying ages -- turned out to the Windham Rail Trail in Windham, NH, for the first ever "Prelate's Bike-a-thon."
Organized by Saint Gregory Church's Board of Trustees, the event was held under the auspices of His Eminence Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. Archbishop Anoushavan personally led the "Arachnort's A-Team" for the 10.4 mile round trip bike-a-thon. The A-Team consisted of Fr. Stephan Baljian, pastor of the church, Dn. James Haddad, Steve Kochakian, Nina Hovsepian & Vartkes Hovsepian.
Many other parishioners and friends of Saint Gregory Church turned out to ride along side them, or to participate as "junior riders." Some parishioners even came by to wish the participants luck and to send them on their way down the bike trail.
To begin, Dn. James Haddad, a member of Saint Gregory's Board of Trustees and the main coordinator of the event, read a passage from Chapter 3 of St. Paul's letter to the Philippians, in which the Apostle writes, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."
Next, Der Stephan offered some welcoming remarks, thanked everyone for participating and gave some words of spiritual encouragement to the participants. Srpazan Hayr blessed all the participants with a pre-journey prayer.
The Prelate's Bike-a-thon ended up being a wonderful community building event that brought together many people from all different walks and stages of life with their Prelate and Pastor, all in support of the church and community. We are grateful to the Prelate and Religious Council for conceiving the idea of a friendly athletic event led by the Prelate and for making the option available as a fundraising idea for the parishes. Coupled with our annual Anniversary Appeal, the two events together raised over $6,000 in funds for Saint Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church.