Abp. Barsamian Announces He Will Not Seek Another Term

Armenian Church in America

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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  1. Carl Bazarian / April 27, 2018

    Great spiritual leader and proud to serve him at FAR. I value his commitment to our Diocese and Leadership. With utmost respect. Carl Bazarian

  2. Farid / April 28, 2018

    This is very disturbing and disheartening to hear. Abp. Khajag is a father to us all.

    My main comment is that an Apostolic and Orthodox Church cannot exist with a system of terms and voting for a Bishop of a Diocese. It goes against every canon of the Ecumenical Councils. Moreover, in simplistic terms, one does not vote ‘his father or mother’ for a ‘term’. This practice does not exist in any other Orthodox Church, and is, for each generation in the Armenian to further dilute the Church from Its Eastern and Orthodox roots.

    Having adopted these Western anomalies, has the Armenian Church grown or is it in contraction within the timeline? If having terms for an episcopate is acceptable, and the Catholicos is ecclesiastically no different than any other bishop in the Armenian Church, is it fair to say that the same protocol be carried out for a Catholicos?

    Should a Bishop become political in every timeline for term voting in order to secure his position?

    A Catholicos is a Father.
    An Archbishop is a Father.
    A Bishop is a Father.
    A Priest is a Father.
    You don’t vote for a “Father”. You accept a Father with Love for a lifetime.
    If you vote, you are getting a politician. You are not getting a Father.

  3. Sharon Bazarian / April 28, 2018

    You are truly a great spiritual and religious leader. Thank you for your time, dedication and heartfelt prayers.

  4. albert malkasian / April 28, 2018

    thank you so much for your sustained leadership, guidance,experience, wisdom and inspiration as primate of the eastern diocese. as a member of sts. sahag and mesrob armenian church in providence i was always inspired and moved by your words and on the occasions when you conducted our beautiful divine liturgy. our diocese has been made stronger and more vibrant under your leadership and we are all to be grateful for your years of dedicated service to the our mother church, the diocese and to our church communities. my prayers go with you in whatever direction the lord may advance you to consider for the future of his church and your future. but until then , god bless you with good health, a full life and the knowledge of a work well done,

  5. Nurhan Adarian / April 28, 2018

    Srpazan Khajag Barsamian is a great leader. Personally I will miss him as my Arachnort also as a 35 years of friendship. I hope we do not get a Hayasdantsi as a replacement.

  6. Mary Kazarian / April 29, 2018

    You are a great, compassionate leader. Your new position will be enhanced by your presence.

  7. Hratch Semerjian / April 30, 2018

    Harkeli Srpazan Hayr, This is such sad news. I was present at your first election to the post of Primate. I was so proud as a Bolsetsi, to see the product of our Tbrevank in that position. Recently, I found a picture from your days at Mesropyan Varjaran; I was a few years ahead of you.
    You have done such a nice job leading our Diocese, and the question remains: why step down, and why now? Could we change your mind?
    I wish you the best in the future.

  8. Robert and Arpi Barsam / May 1, 2018

    Your Eminence,
    We have known you and followed your colorful career from the days of my visit to your Diocesan Assembly as chairman of the Western Diocese, possibly in the 80’s .
    Your leadership as Primate of the largest Diocese, in the Western Hemisphere has immensely enhanced the recognition of the Armenian presence in the life of our church.
    We enjoyed your company wherever we met, either in Etchmiadzin, at a Knights of Vartan function, at Genocide Commemoration event or during the visitations of the Catholici .

    My wife Arpi sends her love and affection and we both thank you for your lifelong dedication and service to the Armenian Church and its people.

    We wish you continued good health as you embark to new endeavors.

    Robert and Arpi Barsam

  9. Sona Bodigian Polkowski / May 19, 2018

    Dear Archbishop Barsamian,
    Although we have not had occasion to meet and converse in a few years because of geographical distance and family responsibilities, it was always reassuring to know that you were in New York at the helm of our church. As a family member I want to wish you health and satisfaction in your next phase of service. Thank you for all your years of dedication.
    Sona Bodigian Polkowski

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