In a video conference call with church leaders, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel laid out four action items that every Armenian should undertake in response to the war on our homeland.
About 150 viewers—including clergy, Diocesan delegates, parish council members, and leaders of church organizations—listened to his urgent call to all Armenian faithful, which proceeded under the title “Artsakh and Armenia: Our Struggle, Our Role.”
In Bishop Daniel’s four action items, he urged his listeners to (1) offer prayers, (2) advocate for truth, (3) contribute financially, and (4) work in unity. In his remarks he elaborated on each in turn, presenting the actions as ways Armenian Americans could lend their own aid to the struggle in Armenia and Artsakh—aid that would be practical, effective, and respond to the most pressing needs of our homeland in the current crisis.
Regarding the four action items, he referenced his discussions with His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and figures in the Armenian government like Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Varuzhan Nersesyan, who had been scheduled to speak during the video conference before other matters interceded.
The Diocesan Primate’s address was preceded by introductory remarks from Oscar Tatosian, a longtime church leader and Diocesan Council member, who also serves as the Republic of Armenia’s Honorary Consul in Chicago. Mr. Tatosian, who was instrumental in organizing the online meeting, greeted fellow Diocesan leaders and affirmed that Armenian Americans are highly respected figures at every level of American society, whose voices must be heard on the urgent matter of the survival of Armenia and Artsakh.
Also offering his perspective at the meeting was Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, who detailed his efforts over the past weeks to summon support for the Armenian cause from sister churches, faith-based organizations, and the international ecumenical community. He referenced statements of support from most of the major U.S. Christian denominations, from church hierarchs around the world, and from the World Council of Churches. He made special note of the very strong statement issued by the U.S.-based National Council of Churches, which Archbishop Aykazian led as president for many years.
Archbishop Aykazian also urged listeners to contact their Congressional representatives and others in administrative roles to denounce and end Azeri aggression, Turkish complicity, and the financial and military support these powers receive from the U.S., Israel, and other nations.
Prayer, Truth, Money, Unity
In the opening minutes of his address, the Primate laid out the architecture of his presentation. “There are four things that we have to do in our Diocese,” he explained, and proceeded to enumerate and develop each responsibility in turn.
(1) PRAYER: “The most powerful weapon we have is prayer,” Bishop Daniel began, repeating a theme he has articulated since the beginning of the Artsakh war.
“Each one of us here must be praying,” he said. “We must call on the name of the Lord and tell him what we want, which is peace in our homeland, peace in the world.” He counseled listeners to offer short, direct prayers “many times a day”; prayers on the model of, “Lord Jesus Christ, bring peace to our country—now. Protect our soldiers—now. Bring aid to their families—now.”
“Please, let us be praying together,” he said.
(2) TRUTH: “We must be the agents and voices of Truth in this information war,” he said. “You and I cannot fight the military battle on the ground. But in the Third Millennium, as important—and arguably more important—is the information war.”
He spoke of the need to combat disinformation propagated on social media platforms, as well as biased press reporting in which Armenia is held up as the aggressor in the conflict, or in which both Armenia and Azerbaijan are treated as equally to blame.
Against such falsehoods, he said, Armenian Christians must openly and actively speak the truth: “We have a moral obligation to seek the truth. Jesus said he is the Truth—and it is his Truth that we aspire to.”
“Our voices must be heard, and it must be taken seriously,” Bishop Daniel said.
(3) MONEY: “It is absolutely essential that we give sacrificially,” the Primate stressed: “that we give until we feel it. We don’t give from the few pennies in our pocket; we give from funds that have not been budgeted for this cause.”
“To give, we might sacrifice a meal a week. We might sacrifice a vacation next year. We make the sacrifices that we need to make as individuals, as parishes, and as a church.”
Bishop Daniel explained that in consulting with authorities in Armenia itself, they all agree that “This is not the time for collecting shoes, blankets, clothing, and material goods.” He said that while an occasion for such collections might arise in the future, at this time considerations involving transport, inspection, and the pandemic crisis make donations of material goods inadvisable.
“For the ten dollars that would go to buying a blanket, it would be much more effective to donate that ten dollars to the Armenia Fund, or to the Artsakh fund listed on our Diocesan website,” he said. “It will be much more effective because the money will be used as needed, according to local needs.”
(4) UNITY: “We must be united,” the Primate advised, within the Diocese and beyond the Diocese. “This is a time for our people to be one.”
He spoke about former appeals to unity—with the church and community—as a goal to be achieved in the future, but not in the present. By way of contrast, he affirmed unity as an urgent, immediate goal.
“That day is today,” he said, referring to when unity should materialize. “That day was last week. We must be united,” as individuals, across political parties, and within a church that remains formally divided.
By way of example, Bishop Daniel cited his appearance at a protest before the United Nations a week earlier, when he stood beside Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian in an expression of “unity for the sake of strength in supporting our people, our church, our homeland, Artsakh and Armenia.”
With emotion he continued: “In light of the endangerment of our country—and all that could possibly hold for us—we must be one, in the name of Jesus Christ and in the name of no other.”
“When we can unite ourselves around a common Christian mission, God’s power will be even stronger through us,” he said.
An Ongoing Need
To conclude his message, Bishop Daniel called on Diocesan leaders to take up his four action items. “Prayer, Truth, Money, Unity—this is our job right now,” he said. “And I am counting on each of you to spread that message—not just in words, but in action.”
In light of the uncertainty of the future in the war, and the need for rebuilding that will certainly follow even a peaceful resolution, he affirmed: “There is a need, and will continue to be a need, for Prayer, Truth, Money and Unity.”
“And even beyond supporting Armenia and Artsakh, these four actions will make us stronger as a Diocese,” the Primate concluded.
To watch a recording of Bishop Daniel’s message (edited down to about 9 minutes) from the October 11 video conference, click here.
To view screen shots of the vide meeting, click here.