The 114th Diocesan Assembly was preceded by a clergy conference, held April 25 to 28, at the Quail Hollow Resort and Conference Center in Painesville, OH. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presided at the event where members of the clergy gathered for prayer, services and a series of presentations on various aspects of the ministry.
Among the first presenters at the meeting were visiting priests from the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the Very Rev. Fr. Shahe Ananian and Very Rev. Fr. Garegin Hambardzumyan. Fr. Ananian, director of Inter-Church Relations at the Mother See, spoke about the ecumenical activities of Holy Etchmiadzin. Fr. Hambardzumyan, dean of the Gevorgyan Theological Seminary at Holy Etchmiadzin, made a presentation about the seminary’s program and goals for the coming years.
The Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, dean of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, spoke to the clergy about the seminary’s current enrollment and candidates for the 2016-17 academic year. The Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan reported on the Clergy Advisory Committee, which had been meeting with the Primate to discuss pastoral and liturgical issues raised at previous clergy conferences.
Two lay presenters outlined financial issues of concern to the clergy. Diocesan Council member Paul Mardoian explained how clergy can enroll and use a new retirement plan offered to non-profit ministry organizations. Jay Bagdasarian, an accountant and non-profit manager in the Cleveland area, gave a talk on ways clergy can draft a financial plan and prepare for retirement.
The Rev. Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Enatyan, chair of the Sacred Music Council, spoke about the organization’s emphasis on supporting choir directors and organists and teaching young people the sacred music of the Armenian Church.
The Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, Diocesan Vicar, gave an update on the Diocese’s strategic plan, including opportunities for clergy continuing education and topic-driven programming. The clergy also worked in small groups to discuss and evaluate the Diocese’s educational programming .
Dr. Armen Baibourtian, the Diocese’s Director of Administration, was introduced to the clergy and gave a brief introduction on his vision for the Diocese.
Representatives of the Armenian American Healthcare Professionals Organization (AAHPO)-Dr. Lawrence Najarian, Dr. Terenig Terjanian, Dr. Vahagn Ohanyan, and Dr. Todd Russell-spoke about healthcare issues and offered advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The Very Rev. Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan gave a presentation on Artsakh-its history and the current crisis. The clergy pledged to personally support the Diocese’s Artsakh relief effort, and to encourage their parishes to likewise lend a helping hand.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian thanked all the clergy for their continued service to the Armenian Church. He went on to describe this year’s Diocesan theme, “Legacy of Our Martyrs: A Gift to Carry Forward,” and noted that resources will be available to parishes soon to help them carry out this message in their parishes.
The clergy conference was chaired by the Rev. Fr. Gomidas Zohrabian. The Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian served as vice-chair, Rev. Fr. Samuel Rith-Najarian as English language secretary and Rev. Fr. Arakel Vardazaryan as Armenian language secretary. Fr. Rith-Najarian presented the clergy conference report to delegates at the Diocesan Assembly on Thursday, April 28.
The clergy conference was hosted by the St. Gregory of Nareg Armenian Church of Cleveland, Ohio, under the guidance of its pastor, the Rev. Fr. Hratch Sargsyan, the local parish council, and organizing committee.