The Diocese’s Armenian Studies coordinator Gilda Kupelian and Christian Education coordinator Elise Antreassian visited two Florida parishes, where they made presentations and held meetings with local community leaders and educators.
On Saturday, July 21, Kupelian and Anteassian led a program titled “Raising Children of Faith in the Armenian Tradition – What Every Parent Should Know,” at St. Hagop Armenian Church in St. Petersburg. Over 30 parishioners attended, gathering in the sanctuary for a discussion on spiritual formation and a PowerPoint survey on important Armenian historical, literary, and cultural figures. A fellowship hour followed, during which the community considered a parish retreat in the fall or spring.
The afternoon program was arranged by the Rev. Fr. Hovnan Demerjian, pastor at St. Hagop Armenian Church. Their membership has nearly tripled in recent years according to Fr. Demerjian, who has been working tirelessly with the Parish Council to plan Sunday School, youth, and cultural initiatives to serve the needs of the growing community.
On Sunday, July 22, Diocesan staff visited Soorp Haroutiun Armenian Church in Orlando, where more than 50 parishioners gathered for the day’s program. Visiting priest Rev. Fr. Abraham Malkhasyan celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
Following services, Ms. Kupelian gave a PowerPoint presentation on Armenian heritage and culture. Ms. Kupelian and Ms. Antreassian then met with the pastor, Parish Council member Rita Harvey, parishioner Anna Stepanyan Vega, and teaching volunteers to discuss the launch of a new Sunday School in the fall. The school will offer both Christian and Armenian studies for parish children and teens.
St. David Armenian Church Youth Reorganize, Community Lay Leaders Participate in Religious Education Program
ST. DAVID ARMENIAN CHURCH YOUTH REORGANIZE, COMMUNITY LAY LEADERS PARTICIPATE IN RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAM
Boca Raton, FL – On Sunday, September 11, 2011, the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) Jrs. and Srs. gathered at St. David Armenian Church to reorganize the chapter and elect new officers. The meeting was presided by the Very Rev. Dr. Nareg Berberian, Pastor.
Fr. Nareg introduced FLArmenians Contributor George Macarian as the new Youth Advisor of the ACYOA Chapter at St. David Armenian Church.
Currently, there are over 20 ACYOA members. George Macarian explained that through his leadership, many programs and activities will be organized for them with the assistance of a new ACYOA Executive Board. There will be religious, educational, and social activities for them. During the meeting, five new officers were elected in the executive board.
Florida Armenians would like to congratulate the newly elected officers and wish all the members a very successful year. We also congratulate George Macarian who recently graduated from the University of Florida, and has moved back to Boca Raton. He will be a great asset to the St. David chapter as a Youth Advisor and a liaison to the ACYOA Central Council.
In addition, the Diocesan Assembly has declared the upcoming year as “The Year of Lay Ministry.” Very Rev. Dr. Nareg Berberian has initiated a Religious Education Program for the lay leadership of our Church, so that the participants will closely study the faith, history and theology of the Armenian Church.
This seven week course is designed to enhance the knowledge of our lay leaders in the faith and theology of the Armenian Apostolic Church, while fulfilling their role as “Lay Ministers” of St. David Armenian Church. Participants will meet regularly every Thursday through October and further attendance from the community is highly encouraged.
The Religious Education Program will offer the following themes: The Sacraments of the Armenian Church, the Apostolicity of the Armenian Church, the Divine Liturgy, the Understanding of the Holy Trinity, the Theology of Death and Dying, the Holy Bible, and Contemporary issues the Armenian Church faces today.
On Thursday, September 15, 2011, from 7:00 – 9:00p.m., more than 25 Lay Leaders participated in the first lecture series. Fr. Nareg spoke eloquently about the sacraments of the Armenian Church and its impact in our lives. He emphasized that the sacraments of the Church are the means to enter into the vineyard of the Lord and enhance our faith by maintaining its divine mystery in our lives. “Since we are offered to the altar of God during our baptism, we are called for the first time to become lay ministers of the Church and live through faith, hope and love,” stated Fr. Nareg.
In his remarks to the participants, Fr. Nareg noted, “To be a successful and effective lay minister, it is prerequisite to gain knowledge of the basic teachings of our Church so you may be able to identify yourself with the history and faith that you are called upon to serve as a representative of your church community. Without that basic knowledge, a lay minister will fail in his/her ministry.”
The participants were captured by the theme and fully engaged in a theological discussion. Carol Norigian, Diocesan Delegate and Chair of the Women’s Guild reflected, “As I continue to study about our Church, my faith and my service in the Armenian Church will strengthen, and I will appreciate the theology and the ancient tradition passed onto us through the generations.”
On Sunday, September 18, 2011, the Diocesan theme was introduced to the parishioners of our Church. Fr. Nareg delivered a sermon based on Jesus’ word, “Follow me.” He focused on three points: 1) The Call comes from Christ; 2) The Call is simple; and 3) The Call is transformative. Being an active parish in our Diocese, St. David Armenian Church will continue to follow the directives sent by the Diocese to strengthen the lay leadership of the Church through educational and outreach programs.
The next course in the Religious Education Program will discuss the Divine Liturgy (Holy Badarak) of the Armenian Church, on Thursday, September 29, 2011.
Recently, our Pastor published his first handbook entitled, “Walking Through the Armenian Faith and History: An Instructional Handbook,” which will be unveiled in February 2012.
SOUTH FLORIDA ARMENIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY COMMEMORATES 96TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
Boca Raton, FL – Last week, hundreds of members, friends and human rights activists from the South Florida Armenian American community commemorated the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
This year’s observance culminated the month long display of the 21-panel Armenian Genocide exhibition on loan to FAU Libraries from the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida. The exhibition displayed the systematic murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I. The panels showcased photographs, quotes from witnesses and the history and legacy of the genocide.
“It was truly inspirational to see South Florida Armenians from three generations come together to honor their fallen ancestors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide,” stated Arsine Kaloustian-Rosenthal, FLArmenians.com Public Affairs Director. “The importance of remembering, sharing of stories between families, and of course the FAU exhibit itself, stands in the face of genocide denial and advances the cause of genocide prevention,” stated Kaloustian-Rosenthal.
Armenians around the world commemorate the genocide on April 24, when in 1915 Ottoman Turkish authorities rounded up, arrested and murdered over 200 Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey. Over 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children perished in 1915-1923 in what historians recognize as the Armenian Genocide.
Dr. Mary Johnson, Senior Historian with Facing History & Ourselves, and curator of the Armenian Genocide exhibit, served as master of ceremonies. Dr. Johnson opened the program with special thanks to Dr. Rose Gatens, Director of the FAU Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education. Dr. Johnson spoke about her experiences teaching the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of its denial.
“The response of the Armenian community to the exhibition on the Armenian Genocide at Florida Atlantic University was incredible,” Dr. Johnson told FLArmenians.com. “Visitors not only examined the panels and the narrative of the history but talked about the exhibition and its implications for today – this ensures that the historical event will be remembered and future generations will continue to tell the story,” concluded Dr. Johnson.
On behalf of St. David Armenian Church, Garen Kalender, Rita Vartanian and Kaliana Maronian presented traditional Armenian poetry. Mr. Albert Mazmanian offered remarks while his daughter Natalie recited her self composed poetry. A musical interlude was offered by local talents from St. Mary’s Armenian Church, Sage McBride (violin) and Marineh Alikhnyn (piano) who performed the famous Armenian composition Groung by Komitas. A short screening from the upcoming film “Orphans of The Genocide” was also presented by south Florida film producers Bared Maronian, Bedo Der-Bedrosian and Paul Andonian.
“Having the commemoration program and exhibition at FAU Library was a wonderful opportunity to teach others about the origins and the history of the Armenian Genocide, a major crime against humanity committed by Ottoman Turks at the dawn of the 20th Century,” stated V. Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian. “We pray that the time will come when justice will be served and Turkey will acknowledge its history,” stated Fr. Berberian.
V. Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian of St. David Armenian Church and Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan of St. Mary Armenian Church offered the memorial service for the victims of the Armenian genocide. The South Florida Armenian Genocide Commemoration was held under the auspices of St. David Armenian Church of Boca Raton, St. Mary Armenian Church of Hollywood, the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian National Committee and the Knights of Vartan.
Photo Caption (L-R): Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, Dr. Mary Johnson, Dr. Rose Gatens, V. Rev. Fr. Nareg Berberian