Monthly Archives: September 2011

Armenian Church of Southwest Florida Participates in Ecumenical Service for Assumption Day

Armenian Church of Southwest Florida Participates in Ecumenical Service for Assumption Day

By Carole Meghreblian
FLArmenians Guest Contributor

On August 14, 2011, the Mission Parish of the Armenian Church of Southwest Florida (SWFL) was invited by Fr. Michael Rowe, Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to join his congregation in celebrating the Feast of the Assumption of the Holy Mother of God. Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of SWFL celebrated the Holy Eucharist. An explanation of the Armenian custom of the Blessing of the Grapes on the Day of Assumption was provided by Fr. Rowe. The 11 parishioners of the Mission Parish of Southwest Florida were then called forward for the blessing of the grapes by Rt. Rev. Bishop Dabney T. Smith. The service was followed by a luncheon and, to our delight, the menu was chicken, beans and rice (which almost tasted like pilaf!).

Armenian Church of Southwest Florida

Realizing the demand to serve the spiritual needs of both local, permanent residents and our winter parishioners, the Armenian Church of Southwest Florida was formed in 2001. This mission parish which had begun by word of mouth, has steadily grown over the past decade.

Services are held in season only, specifically November, January-March, and sometimes April. Having no church of our own, services are held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Bonita Springs.

The first Badarak of the coming season will be held on Saturday, November 5, 2011, at 1:00 pm. For further information or to be placed on our mailing list, please contact me at 239-348-3804.

Carole Meghreblian is the Parish Council Chair of the Armenian Church of Southwest Florida.


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.

St. David ACYOA Jrs. & Srs.

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.

St. David Armenian Church Lay Leaders

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.”

St. David Armenian Church Religious Education Program

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.

Chef John Minas adds Armenian Flair to Florida Fare as New Executive Chef at the Governor’s Mansion

Chef John Minas adds Armenian Flair to Florida Fare as New Executive Chef at the Governor’s Mansion

By Doug Kalajian
FLArmenians Cuisine Contributor

Ask anyone with a glimmer of culinary consciousness about Florida cuisine and you’ll most likely hear a tale of Caribbean-Latin fusion that sizzles like the sands of South Beach.
Then ask Chef John Minas.

For one of his first dinners as Executive Chef at the Florida governor’s mansion, Minas served notice that there’s a new culinary accent in the Sunshine State: Armenian.

“I made grape leaves,” he said proudly.

Executive Chef John Minas

Minas, who grew up in the deep-rooted Armenian community of Watertown, Mass., inherited a love of food from his Armenian and Assyrian family. He credits his paternal grandfather, Bashir Minas, with inspiring him.

“Every Sunday, we’d go to my grandfather’s house,” he said. “He cooked the best Armenian and Middle Eastern food I ever tasted. Dolmas, sarmas. And his fasoulia — oh my gosh! He made it all and he made it amazing. He wasn’t a trained chef, but he was a great cook.”

On weekdays, young Minas rushed home from high school to watch the back-to-back shows of Food Network pioneers Emeril Lagasse and Mario Batali. “Those guys were all about the food and the technique,” he said.

The idea took hold that he could meld the elegance and discipline of Western fine dining with the flavors and ingredients he grew up with.

After training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, Minas worked at several restaurants in the Northeast and was planning to open his own when he heard about the unique opportunity in far-off Tallahassee, Florida. He sent a resume and got a quick invitation for an interview on April 11, his 26th birthday.

The interview turned out to be an audition.

“All of a sudden I was cooking breakfast at the mansion,” he said. “That was followed by lunch and then dinner.” While he was at it, Minas volunteered an afternoon snack, “a real mezze platter” including feta cheese and pita bread.

Nearly every dish in his day-long cooking marathon reflected Minas’ cultural connection.

“My dinner entree was a watercress tabbouleh with Chilean sea bass and grilled asparagus,” he said. “It was a French take on Middle Eastern. I’m very big on that.”

The fourth of six candidates to try out, Minas was barely back in Boston when he received news that he’d been hired. He started his new job in May and launched straight into an exciting yet demanding routine. Minas supervises all planning and preparation for a whirlwind of state dinners and charity events as well as daily meals for Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott.

Minas said he’s excited about Florida’s rich variety of fresh seafood and produce, but the job has kept him so busy that he’s had limited opportunity to travel around the state. “I’m really looking forward not only to getting to know the state, but to meet the Armenians here,” he said. “I want to get to Boca Raton and all the other Armenian communities.”

So far, Minas has brought not only Armenian touches to the mansion menu but other Middle Eastern favorites.

“I take our cuisine and try to make it relevant for a new generation,” he said. “I make a very refined hummus, with several variations on a plate. For example, a kalamata hummus served with traditional pita chips and a basil-pesto hummus with tomato pita chips. It’s no better than my mother’s hummus, but it’s my version.”

Gov. Scott has become such a fan that he appointed Minas and his sous chef, Carin Butler, to represent the state in the 2011 Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans. “John is a talented chef and cooks up some of the best food I’ve ever tasted,” the governor announced. “He’s going to give those other chefs a run for their money.”

Minas presented a Florida black grouper with avocado crème fraiche and spicy shrimp toast that he said “tastes like the state of Florida on a plate.” He didn’t win, but he wasn’t discouraged.

“I’m just getting started,” he said. “The job and the people here are wonderful. I plan to be in Tallahassee for a long time. Then, who knows?”

Doug Kalajian is a retired journalist in Palm Beach County and Sous Chef at