His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian announced this week that he would not seek an 8th term of office as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).
His decision to withdraw from the election brings to a close a tenure as Primate that lasted 28 years and 7 terms of office.
Archbishop Barsamian has served as the 11th Primate of the Diocese, and the second to occupy New York’s St. Vartan Cathedral as the seat of his episcopal office. He is the longest serving primate, having occupied the position for a greater period than predecessors like Archbishop Torkom Manoogian (24 years: 1966-90) and Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan (10 years: 1944-54).
His period of office coincided with such milestones as the centennial of the Armenian Diocese in America (1998), the 1,700th anniversary of Armenia’s Christian conversion (2001), the post-9/11 memorial (2001), and the 100th year of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide (2015).
What follows is the text of Archbishop Barsamian’s letter to Diocesan delegates and parish council chairs, dated April 26, 2018.
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Dear Diocesan Delegates, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
I have some quite unexpected news about which I would like to inform you.
I have decided that I will not be running for the office of Diocesan Primate during the upcoming election at the Diocesan Assembly. As the election has neared, I have found myself feeling increasingly anxious, even though I recognize that there is support for my candidacy.
But the thought that keeps returning to my mind and heart is that the time has come for me to make space for someone else to lead this great Diocese. This feeling has been with me for a while; but until recently I also felt an obligation to run, to help create a smooth transition to new leadership.
However, I have been privileged to serve as Primate of this Diocese now for 28 years. During this time I have tried to fulfill my responsibilities with love and joy, with the support and partnership of our dedicated clergy, lay leaders, and the Diocesan staff in the Eastern Diocese.
I have meditated, thought, and prayed deeply on this matter. But in my heart I feel it is time for me to move on.
I have consulted with Vehapar, and he has given me his blessing, for which I am grateful. I have informed the Diocesan Council members of my decision, as well as the clergy of our Diocese. And now I want to inform you, the leaders of our church in America.
I regret the sudden nature and timing of this news. And I want to say that it has been a pleasure working with each one of you, for the good of the Armenian Church and our Diocese. Shortly, the chairman of the Diocesan Council will communicate with you, to inform you of the next steps.
Today, in this moment of transition, I find sustenance in the words of Scripture: “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I continue praying for each of you, and ask that you remember me in your prayers.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate
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