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Virtual 119th Diocesan Assembly Holds Final General Session

The final General Session of the Eastern Diocese’s 119th Diocesan Assembly convened on the evening of Tuesday, May 25. Like its predecessors, it went forward as an online gathering, with about 120 voting delegates, and an additional 20 observers, participating remotely.

Once again, Diocesan Primate Bishop Daniel Findikyan presided over the meeting of clergy, Diocesan delegates, and parish council chairs over the Zoom conference platform.

Voting to fill vacancies in various Diocesan offices occupied the bulk of the assembly session. Some election results from the first General Session of May 1 were inconclusive, necessitating additional ballots on May 25. Voting was conducted online, using a secure platform; see below for the election results. As head of this year’s Nominating Committee, Fr. Ghevont Ajemian led the balloting process.

The delegates entertained just one proposal: an amendment to the Diocesan Bylaws, which would impose term limits on Diocesan delegates elected by the parishes. That proposal had been introduced in the 118th Diocesan Assembly and passed on that occasion. Having passed again in the 119th Assembly, the term-limit provision can now be entered into the Diocesan Bylaws, pending approval by the Catholicos of All Armenians.

While the full financial report of the Diocesan Council was postponed until a later date (pending the submission of a final report from an outside accounting firm), a representative of the auditing firm was invited to address the delegates’ questions on the technical difference between a financial review (which the Diocese submits to every year) and a full financial audit (which delegates have inquired about in the past).

Also on the agenda was a presentation from the host parish for next year’s 120th Diocesan Assembly, St. Mark Church of Springfield, MA. David Jermakian spoke about that gathering, scheduled to convene April 28 through May 1, 2022, as an in-person event. He noted that next year’s assembly will include the quadrennial election for the office of Primate, and will hew to an older meeting format that encourages attendees to remain in the host parish locale through Sunday badarak. Delegates watched a brief promotional video of the event venue, which can be viewed by clicking here.

Reflecting on Ministry

Bishop Daniel concluded the meeting by thanking this year’s Assembly officers—chair Gregory Saryadarian, vice chair Alex Topakbashian, and secretary Laurie Bejoian—and Diocesan staffers Jennifer Morris and Kathryn Ashbahian (aided by Serda Belekdanian and Lara Ciamician) who skillfully and gracefully managed the technical side of the sessions.

The Primate congratulated the incoming officers, including returning and newly-elected Diocesan Council members. He also expressed his deep gratitude to the outgoing council members—Fr. Aren Jebejian, Antranig Garibian, James Kalustian, and Oscar Tatosian—all of whom have served devotedly in that capacity for many years.

In a pastoral reflection, Bishop Daniel spoke about the significance of the term “ministry” in Scripture, liturgy, and Armenian Church history; he said that term, more so than its modern analog “leadership,” describes what the clergy and lay delegates accomplish in their roles within the church. He encouraged his listeners to reflect on that role as the surrounding world emerges from the pandemic period and begins to resume public life.

“Ministry is intimately linked to Service,” he said; “and Service means Love. There is no Service without Love. But where Love is great, the Ministry will also be great.”

Click here to read about the inaugural Diocesan Assembly session of May 1. Two breakout sessions occurred on May 5 and 11—involving question-and-answer sessions on the Diocesan staff and ministries, the Stewardship pilot project, and the Diocesan facilities assessment—with a third such meeting, on Diocesan finances, still to be scheduled.

To view a gallery of screenshots from the May 25 Assembly session, click here.

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Election Results of the 119th Diocesan Assembly

(* Denotes re-elected incumbent)

119th Assembly Officers
Gregory Saraydarian* (Bayside, NY)—Chair
Alex Topakbashian (Wynnewood, PA)—Vice Chair
Laurie Bejoian* (Framingham, MA)—Secretary

Diocesan Council (4-year term)
Fr. Stepanos Doudoukjian* (Watervliet, NY)
Fr. Hratch Sargsyan (Cleveland, OH)
Lisa Esayian (Evanston, IL)
Mona Karoghlanian* (Cleveland, OH)
Richard Papalian (White Plains, NY)
Alex Topakbashian (Wynnewood, PA)
1st Clergy Alternate: Fr. Norayr Kazazian (Atlanta, GA)
2nd Clergy Alternate: Fr. Avedis Kalayjian (Racine, WI)
1st Lay Alternate: Ara Araz (Fair Lawn, NJ)
2nd Lay Alternate: Daniel Barber (Watertown, MA)

Diocesan Board of Trustees (10-year term)
Janet Mardigian* (Southfield, MI)

Nominating Committee (1-year term)
Fr. Voski Galstyan (Hartford, CT)
Thomas Ashbahian (Fair Lawn, NJ)
Peter Babigian (Watertown, MA)
Lynn Beylerian (Fair Lawn, NJ)
Herman Purutyan (Watertown, MA)
1st Alternate: Fr. Andreas Garabedian (Chicago, IL)
2nd Alternate: Fr. Voskan Hovhanissyan (Belleville, IL)

Proposals Committee (1-year term)
Fr. Tavit Boyajian (Palos Heights, IL)
Fr. Hovhan Khoja-Eynatyan (Evanston, IL)
Howard Atesian (Southfield, MI)
Melanie Brown (Hartford, CT)
Dn. Serop Demirjian (Cleveland, OH)
1st Alternate: Dn. Daron Bolat (Dallas, TX)
2nd Alternate: Greg Kolligian (Cambridge, MA)

Auditing Committee (3-year term)
Sarine Zenian (Washington, DC)
1st Alternate: Zaven Tachdjian (White Plains, NY)
2nd Alternate: Steve Berian (Springfield, MA)

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