By Arsen Yelegen
FLArmenians Guest Contributor
From January 19 to 21, 47 young adults from 18 parishes across the Eastern Diocese gathered at St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, FL for the annual ACYOA Seniors Chapter Workshop. Organized by the ACYOA Central Council, the weekend’s theme was “Stewardship: Time, Talent, and Treasure.”
Participants shared their ACYOA experiences and brainstormed how they can utilize their time, talents, and treasures to strengthen their local chapters. The Rev. Fr. Paren Galstyan, pastor of St. David Church, served as the weekend’s chaplain. The Rev. Fr. Vartan Joulfayan, pastor of St. Mary Church in Hollywood, FL was also present for several sessions throughout the weekend.
The workshop began on Friday evening with a welcome by the ACYOA Central Council, and the participants got to know each other through icebreakers and a group activity. The evening concluded with a vespers service led by Fr. Paren.
Saturday began with a team building activity which involved various groups working together to create the tallest freestanding structure using only newspaper and masking tape. Participants were blindfolded, forced to use one hand, had their legs tied together, and had their mouths taped shut to make the activity more difficult. This activity emphasized teamwork and recognizing the special strengths and talents that each participant brings to the table.
Following this activity, Central Council members led a Bible Study from 1 Corinthians which spoke about stewardship and recognizing our individual talents and gifts.
Afterwards, Central Council members gave a presentation of what it means to be a steward and the importance of church dues, time commitment, and mentoring younger ACYOA members. Artak Apyan, from St. Hagop Church of Pinellas Park, FL, gave a presentation about the importance of stewardship and the role it has played in his life in the church.
Participants then split up into groups of two and had 60 seconds each to talk about themselves, followed by another 20 minutes to get better acquainted with each other. At the end of the session, participants were asked to describe what role they think their partner would be great at in their chapter based on the skills and abilities they shared earlier.
After lunch, ACYOA members made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Boca Helping Hands as part of a service project. Participants also signed a card for Rev. Fr. Shnork Souin, pastor of Sts. Sahag and Mesrob Church, who is currently in a rehabilitation center and awaiting a heart transplant.
Central Council members discussed the mission of the ACYOA, as well as the Five Circles of the Cross. Participants then split into groups and discussed various strengths and weaknesses they have observed in their local ACYOA chapters and parishes.
“There was a lot to be learned from the other chapters, big or small. Little tips go a long way. I was able to take home ideas I have never thought of and hope to make the coming years a great success,” said Brian Sarafyan of the Church of the Holy Martyrs in Bayside, NY.
The last session of the day involved goal setting. Participants watched a TED Talk video about how great leaders inspire action, and they were then split into groups based on their Central Council liaisons. Participants identified leadership qualities of members in their own local ACYOA chapters and started planning events their chapters could host.
On Sunday, the group participated in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy at St. David Church before heading back to their home parishes. “This was my first Chapter Workshop so I didn’t know what to expect. I enjoyed the teambuilding activities that helped us learn about ourselves and how we can best serve the Church and the Armenian community,” said Elen Balasanyan of St. Sarkis Church in Charlotte, NC.
“It was great to get insight from peers through reflections and learn new problem-solving techniques that we can use to strengthen our own chapters.”
St. David Armenian Church (Boca Raton)
St. Mary Armenian Church (Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood)
St. Hagop Armenian Church (Tampa/Pinellas Park)
Armenian Christmas Liturgy, Blessing of the Waters, Brunch & Children’s Performance This Sunday-Jan.7!
Join us this Sunday, January 7th to celebrate a special Armenian Christmas Badarak, followed by the Blessing of the Waters with godfather Greg Ekizian. Following worship the Women’s Guild invites all to a complimentary Christmas Brunch as we watch our young people perform their Armenian/Christmas songs taught by Suzy Hovhanissian. Please join us for a special Sunday.
Soorp Haroutiun Armenian Church (Orlando)
Please Join Us to Celebrate Armenian Christmas, January 7, 2018 – Armenian Christmas Divine Liturgy and Blessing of the Water – 10:30 a.m. Following the Soorp Badarak, please join us for a Farewell Luncheon in honor of Fr. Armash, Yeretzgeen Maran, and Nathaniel. For more information about the luncheon, please call Pat Baligian at (407) 438-8433. Luncheon donations: $10.00 per adult; $5.00 for children (5 to 12 years old); Children under 5 years old are free.
Watch the Armenian Christmas Service Broadcast from St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral
On Saturday, January 6th, the Armenian Church observed the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany of Our Lord Jesus Christ. At St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese, celebrated the Divine Liturgy and performed the “Blessing of Water” ceremony. You can watch the entire Service by clicking below.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this year, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) held its annual members meeting in Boca Raton, Florida. Organized by the Assembly’s South Florida Regional Council (SFRC) Chair Arsine Kaloustian and Assembly Board of Trustees Member and Life Trustee Lu Ann Ohanian, the annual members weekend in March included a three-day program of meetings, receptions, and events.
The success of the Assembly’s annual members weekend was ensured thanks to the generosity of Gold Sponsors Carolyn Mugar, Joyce Stein, Lu Ann & Bruce Ohanian, and Peter Vosbikian; Silver Sponsors Michael Haratunian and Annie Totah; Bronze Sponsors Marta Batmasian, James Kalustian, and Harry & Edna Keleshian; and Donors Ara Jabrayan, Ed Shooshanian, Hagop & Arlys Koushakjian, and Nevart Talanian.
The weekend kicked off with a “Pints and Professionals” reception at Tap 42 restaurant, organized by Florida Chair Arsine Kaloustian. Over 100 guests from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties gathered in downtown Boca Raton to enjoy complimentary cocktails and appetizers in a business casual atmosphere throughout the evening.
“The Assembly is looking towards the future with fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking to build up new membership as well as engage the active member base we already have. The three events we hosted in Florida reflected that aim. Our networking event, ‘Pints and Professionals,’ was particularly successful. Over 100 young Armenian professionals in attendance were anxious to learn more about the Assembly and excited for other upcoming events,” Kaloustian said. “The South Florida Regional Council plans to continue this renewed energy and encouraging momentum for the duration of 2016,” she added.
On Saturday morning, Assembly members and friends gathered at the Boca Raton Marriott for the Members and Board of Trustees meeting. The meeting featured reports from Board of Trustees Co-Chairmen Van Krikorian and Anthony Barsamian, Board President Carolyn Mugar, and other board members and staff. Members also approved the Assembly’s annual budget and amended by-laws. The Board of Trustees meeting will hereafter convene every two years, rather than annually, to review the organization’s budget, endowment fund, and audit reports.
The Assembly’s current Board of Trustees include Anthony Barsamian, Co-Chairman; Van Krikorian, Co-Chairman; Hirair Hovnanian, Chairman Emeritus; Carolyn Mugar, President; Robert A. Kaloosdian, Vice Chairman and Counselor; Edele Hovnanian, Vice President; Bianka Kadian-Dodov, Treasurer; Oscar Tatosian, Secretary; Lisa Kalustian, Assistant Secretary; Aram Gavoor; Alex Karapetian; Raffi Kassarjian; Lu Ann Ohanian; Toros Sahakian; Joyce Stein; Annie Totah; and Talin Yacoubian. Mark Momjian will continue to serve as Solicitor.
During the meeting, the Assembly thanked Michael and Marie Haratunian, who became life trustees after years of dedication with the Assembly. Former Chairman of the Board Michael Haratunian participated in the Airlie House conferences that established the Armenian Assembly of America in 1972 and served as a member of the Board of Directors for many years. He also participated in the Assembly’s Mission Trips to Armenia in 1993, 1994, and 1997.
“The Armenian Assembly, the Armenian American community, and Armenians around the world are grateful to Michael and Marie Haratunian for their hard work over the years, preparing a new generation of leaders,” Assembly Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian said. “The value they place on the Assembly’s core philosophy to approach important issues in Washington in a professional and on a non-partisan basis yielded a remarkable record of success, promoted four decades of interns, and helped Armenians everywhere.”
Krikorian and Barsamian also recognized several Assembly members and other prominent Armenian American leaders who passed away over the last year, honoring them with a moment of silence. Assembly members spoke in memory of the departed: Harry Keleshian; Gregory Adamian; George Kay; Hirant Candan; George Yacoubian, Sr.; former Washington Post Editor Ben Bagdikian; and former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Harry Gilmore. While speaking about Ambassador Gilmore, the Armenia Tree Project (ATP) shared about the tree planting on October 14 at the Memorial Park in Parakar Village, west of Yerevan, which was done in his honor.
During the meeting, the Board of Trustees reviewed the Armenian Genocide centennial anniversary year and presented updates on Assembly activities from around the world, including Vatican City, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Yerevan, and more. The Assembly members reviewed the events in 2015 and additions to the Assembly’s staff, with new positions filled in California, Washington, D.C., and Armenia.
Krikorian spoke about the new, young leadership and the updated by-laws, aimed at charting the Assembly’s path toward a successful future. The board announced the now-mobile friendly Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA) website as an example, and showcased the virtual museum. AGMA is now easily accessible on mobile and tablet devices.
Reflecting on the situation on the front line of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, prior to the four-day war, Krikorian displayed the Assembly-created Artsakh Cease-Fire Map, depicting violations by Azerbaijan on the Line of Contact. As feared, Azerbaijani aggression reached new heights in the weeks following the Assembly’s Annual Trustees Meeting, further endangering the region for Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, as well as refugees being forced to escape persecution in Syria and Iraq.
Barsamian discussed recent meetings he had with various officials, including President Serzh Sargsyan in Armenia as well as OSCE Minsk Group U.S. Ambassador James Warlick in Washington, D.C. He mentioned exciting new projects in store for Armenia, including the Smithsonian Armenia spotlight on the National Mall Discovery Center to be opened in 2018, where the Armenia Tree Project plans to play a significant role.
Assembly President Carolyn Mugar presented on the Assembly and ATP’s tree planting projects. She focused on last April’s commemoration dedicated to the memory of U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau in Armenia, where ten members of the extended Morgenthau family, including eight great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren of Ambassador Morgenthau, participated in several ATP events.
On Saturday evening, Assembly members and friends gathered for a reception where guests discussed the new energy and planned initiatives of the Assembly. Attendees enjoyed the rest of the night dancing with live music provided by Dick Barsamian (Oud), John Arzigian (Accordion), and Mike Gregian (Dumbeg).
The Assembly’s Annual Members Meeting weekend concluded on Sunday with a book presentation at St. David’s Church where renowned Armenian American photojournalist Scout Tufankjian presented her book There is Only the Earth: Images from the Armenian Diaspora Project. Released in April 2015, the publication culminates six years dedicated to documenting Armenian communities in over 20 countries. Tufankjian is best known for her photography during the Barack Obama campaigns and her work in the Middle East reporting on the Egyptian Revolution.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.