Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, led the delegation from the Eastern Diocese at the annual assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. The NCC’s “Christian Unity Gathering” convened November 8-10 in Silver Spring, MD.
Accompanying Archbishop Aykazian (who serves on the NCC governing board) were Yn. Arpi Kouzouian and Raffi Balian who serve on the Education and Faith and Order committees, respectively. For the first time, St. Nersess Seminary was invited to send two seminarians: Dn. Albert Hambardzumyan and Dn. Michael Sabounjian.
In a special presentation of the NCC’s Middle East Delegation, Archbishop Aykazian shared the group’s experiences traveling to Iraq in January 2017. He also delivered an opening prayer during the NCC convocation.
“Today, we stand together in the divine cause of Reconciliation. We do so as churches with different backgrounds, but a common spirit; as individuals intent on acknowledging history, securing justice, and advancing the process of universal healing,” he said. “Injustice, hatred, discrimination, and even genocide, continue to disfigure the horizon of human aspiration down to the present day…. Mindful of your sacrifice for us, Lord—of the suffering you endured on behalf of your children—we pray for your compassionate mercy.”
The NCC’s 38 member communions—representing Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African-American, and Living Peace traditions—came together under the theme “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence.” A workshop on the role of American churches in racial reconciliation, and a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, were features of the event.