By Florence Avakian
How many Armenian-Americans truly understand our faith, and its profound, timeless message?
An innovative new campaign called Our Church Our Legacy-launched this month by the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America-aims to inspire and strengthen the faith of every Armenian, and to make their faith relevant to daily life.
“It’s the deepest mission of our Armenian Church: to build faith among our people; to bring us closer together to do the work we are meant to do,” says Melanie Dadourian, who co-chairs the “Our Church, Our Legacy” campaign. Ms. Dadourian’s steering committee co-chair is Oscar Tatosian.
Education, Ministry, Outreach
To achieve its goal, the committee is working hand in hand with local parishes and people at the grassroots level, involving Armenian-Americans throughout the Eastern Diocese. A core objective of the campaign will be to provide parishioners with tools to strengthen local education, ministry, and outreach.
“Working with local parishioners is an idea that grew out of the early research we undertook before launching the campaign,” says Mr. Tatosian. He refers to a survey of parish leaders done in the winter of 2016, whose results were eye-opening to the campaign committee.
Survey participants expressed strong desires for more youth programming, adult Bible education, a more accessible Divine Liturgy, digital education, improved training and retirement benefits for the clergy.
Local parish leaders also requested guidance from the Diocese in various areas: setting up effective church ministries, fundraising, developing deeper spirituality among parishioners, and connecting across communities through face-to-face and electronic gatherings.
Responding to those requests, six regional “stewardship workshops” have been scheduled across the Diocese this fall. Workshops have already been held in the New England and Midwest regions, with others scheduled for Washington, DC (Oct. 15), Carrollton, TX (Oct. 29), Fair Lawn, NJ (Nov. 5), and Boca Raton, FL (TBA). Parishioners receive an opportunity to learn new skills, to share experiences with people from other parishes, and to build a spirit of collaboration among the local communities.
The Road to $15 Million
The “Our Church, Our Legacy” campaign has set a goal of raising $15 million to build a stable future for the Armenian Church in America. Already $5.7 million has been raised in early support, including a generous donation of $3 million from the Mardigian Foundation. Steering committee members are traveling throughout the Diocese to meet with potential supporters from all walks of life.
“This grassroots project is truly parish-directed. We want to speak with and strengthen our relationship with every family on an individual basis to get support,” says Oscar Tatosian.
Eventually, the fully-funded $15 million endowment will generate $675,000 dollars every year for the mission of the church, underwriting workshops, pilgrimages, youth ministry, and electronic educational resources.
But the campaign is seeking to gather more than just financial support. “When we’re invited into people’s homes, we ask them what they want and need from their church. We listen to the honest opinions of the clergy, parish councils, and everyday people, so this effort can help make our church-and our legacy-truly relevant.”
The community can join in this important effort by supporting the “Our Church, Our Legacy” campaign. For information, contact Mel Kalagian at email@example.com, or by calling (212) 686-0710, ext. 142.