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Jacksonville Armenians Constructing New Parish Church, Young Members Pursue Academic Achievements

By Janna Mosinyan
FLArmenians Guest Contributor

Jacksonville, FL – The community here has grown to the point that, last year, our mission parish purchased a new property, which will serve as the epicenter of the Armenian-American community of Jacksonville. The new parish location will play an important role in the development of our community. It will be a place where local Armenians will be able to come together for worship, celebrations, and cultural and social events. This will enable the dream of Armenians living in northern Florida to manage their own institution, plan for bible studies, Sunday school and more, to become reality. The Jacksonville community has been working together to reform the building, as construction work takes place every Sunday with the help of dedicated community leaders. While church construction is in progress, the Armenian community of Jacksonville, Florida gathers each month for the monthly “Badarak,” or Divine Liturgy. The women’s choir is performing with the participation of Janna Mosinyan, Elen Mosinyan, Olivia Arslanian, Silva Baboyan, and male members Rafael Grigoryan, Aleksandr Shafiyev, Nicolas Yedigarov and Erik Mirzoyev are all active participants of the service as well.

Rev. Fr. Tateos Abdalian with Young Jacksonville Armenians

This summer has been especially productive for the young members of our community. Aleksandr Shafiyev recently represented the Armenian Community of Jacksonville on his pilgrimage to the Holly Land. Shafiyev was excited to discover that out of all the Christian nations, Armenians are one of two that have a special quarter in Jerusalem to practice their religion. “Now, that I have had an up-close experience of the Armenian traditions, I am eager to go back to my roots,” said Shafiyev. Hearing an Armenian who has never been to Armenia talk about his heritage with such a great pride is a delightful feeling.  On July 11, 2012, The Eastern Diocese announced the recipients of the Diocesan Academic Scholarship for 2012-13. The Armenian community of Jacksonville is proud to announce that two of our students, Rafael Gregoryan and Erik Mirzoyev, have earned the scholarship by committing tremendous time and dedication to our community. Since 2008, I have been an active member of the Armenian-American community of Jacksonville, and it is evident that our local parish has been crucial for the success and development of young Armenians here. As an Armenian who arrived to United States only four years ago, I have found a little Armenia, here in north Florida, thousands of miles away from home.

Janna Mosinyan is an active member of the Jacksonville Armenian-American community, and sings in the parish choir. She is currently studying Political Science at the University of North Florida.

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Diocesan Staff Give Presentations in Tampa, Orlando Parishes

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.

Armenian Community Members in Tampa

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.

South Florida Armenian Community Gathers at St. David Armenian Church for Easter Celebration

SOUTH FLORIDA ARMENIAN COMMUNITY GATHERS AT ST. DAVID ARMENIAN CHURCH FOR EASTER CELEBRATION

Boca Raton, FL – On Sunday, April 8, the South Florida Armenian-American community gathered at St. David Armenian Church to celebrate Easter Sunday, reported Florida Armenians (FLArmenians).  The sanctuary was filled to capacity and the adjoining Church hall accommodated 500 people so that all could participate in the day’s service, festivities and celebration.  Led by Very Reverend Fr. Nareg Berberian, Pastor of St. David Armenian Church, parishioners came with their families and friends to celebrate the most important feast day in the Armenian Christian faith.

“I am pleased to see almost 700 people gather together in our Sanctuary to celebrate the Feast of the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  With Christ, our souls are resurrected and in Christ our hearts are created anew.  I encourage all our congregants to become more active in sharing their God-given talents and gifts with our Church community, especially since this year has been designated as the year of the ‘Lay Ministry.'”

Holy Week is the most important week of the Church calendar and St. David Armenian Church held religious activities in the days leading up to Easter Sunday. As is tradition in the Armenian church, the greeting “Krisdos haryav ee merelotz” (Christ is risen from the dead) is used on the joyous day of Easter, followed by the response “Orhnyal eh harouteunn Krisdosi” (blessed is the resurrection of Christ).

“It was wonderful to see so many of our community come out to celebrate this day,” stated Parish Council member Carol Norigian. “As our parish continues to grow, the St. David Armenian Church Parish Council is pleased to continue serving our vibrant south Florida community,” stated Norigian.