A Historical Encounter
by Rev. John Khanjian, Ph.D.
The Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, received representatives of the Armenian Evangelical Church and the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) at St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank, California on November 3, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Representatives from the Armenian Evangelical Community and from the Western Diocese were invited by the AMAA for an interdenominational fellowship dinner where good will and best wishes were exchanged.
The Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA, Zaven Khanjian, welcomed and thanked the Catholicos for this auspicious occasion and invited the guests to raise a toast in His honor. After thanking Mr. and Mrs. Albert Boyajian for sponsoring the event, he invited the Catholicos to offer grace. In his prayer the Pontiff blessed not only the food but the Armenian Apostolic and the Armenian Evangelical churches.
After the meal, Mr. Khanjian expressed his appreciation for this Christian brotherly meeting between the two members of the Armenian community which was made possible by the help of the Primate of the Western Diocese, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. In his remarks, Mr. Khanjian pointed out that the roots of the Armenian Evangelical Church are deeply embedded in the Apostolic teachings which brought the Good News of the grace and forgiveness of God to the Armenian nation. The Armenian Evangelical Church, which is based on the Bible, is a healthy branch of the Apostolic Church and aspires to be faithful to its historical Armenian roots. We all stand on the shoulders of the giants of our traditions. He concluded his word with best wishes and prayers for the Armenian Evangelical Church and the AMAA to remain faithful to their mission and continue to stand by the Apostolic Church and together spread God’s Word and lead our compatriots to the sources of our faith. We are all challenged to face the future together for a stronger Homeland.
The Rev. Berdj Djambazian, President of the Armenian Evangelical World Council and Minister of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, described his personal experiences with His Holiness which reflected a man of love, honesty, truthfulness, and compassion. He also expressed his hope for working together for Christ and the Fatherland.
Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, President of the AMAA, acknowledged the significance of this meeting on the Centennial of the AMAA, and thanked His Holiness for cordially receiving the AMAA’s Officials visits. Dr. Darakjian expressed the aspiration of the AMAA to cooperate in the area of Christian Education and help in building a strong Armenia not only economically but also spiritually. He said, “We need to cooperate in order to continue our existence as Christian Armenians.”
Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East and President of Haigazian University, thanked His Holiness for this occasion and emphasized that it is the love of Christ and the need of our nation that brings us together. “Haigazian University, which is engaged in preparing our young people to serve our nation in the Homeland and the Diaspora, is in need of your prayerful support” and concluded with the need to cooperate for the welfare of our youth.
His Eminence, the Primate of the Western Diocese, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian who played a major role in this event, welcomed His Holiness and the audience and invited him to the podium. The Catholicos, who spoke extemporaneously, was very frank with the audience. He acknowledged that in the past there have been some reservations but “the fact that I am here today with my Evangelical brothers is proof of the absence of obstacles for the preaching of the Gospel in Armenia. Spreading the light of the Gospel does not mean forming a separate denomination but strengthening one another.” He welcomed this opportunity to be together and to build a relationship based on a sincere Christian foundation, to break the ice between the two churches and to have one vision. “Together, we should work for the welfare of our country,” the Pontiff added, “pray for us to live and work in love and to build Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora in order to face our future challenges together.”
The evening concluded in a warm atmosphere of Christian brotherhood with the promise of continuing dialogue.
In addition to our gracious hosts, Albert and Tove Boyajian, AMAA extends thanks to the evening’s Organizing Committee: Elizabeth Agbabian, Dr. Ani Darakjian, Sona Khanjian, Arsine Phillips, and Helga Sarkis.