Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian is the Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), in which capacity he has served since January of 2000.
Archbishop Aykazian was born in Siirt, Turkey, in 1951. He studied theology at the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem and was ordained a deacon in 1968 and a celibate priest in 1971. In 1992, His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, ordained him a bishop.
In addition to his seminary education in Jerusalem and at the Holy Cross Armenian Seminary in Istanbul, he received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Kings College in London; studied pastoral theology at St. Augustine’s College in Canterbury, England; received his Ph.D. from the Armenian Academy of Sciences’ Department of History; and completed the Ph.D. course requirements at Fribourg Catholic University in Switzerland.
In a ministry that has taken him around the world, he has served the Armenian Church in diverse roles. He acted as dragoman at the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and athletic instructor of the Jerusalem seminary; preacher at the Armenian churches in Istanbul and assistant to Archbishop Shnork Kaloustyan, then-Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; pastor of the Armenian Church of Switzerland from 1980 to 1992, where he established and organized new church communities in Zurich, Bern, Kreazlingen, and Lugano. He became Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Switzerland in 1992, serving until 1996. In 1997, he assumed the role of director of the Fund for Armenian Relief’s office in the Republic of Armenia until 1999.
In 2007, he was elected as president of the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCC) in the USA, and served his term from 2008 through 2009. He was the first Oriental Orthodox clergyman to serve as president of America’s leading ecumenical organization and currently sits on the executive board of the NCC, as well as on the board of the World Council of Churches, where his involvement has been extensive and continuous since 1985, including positions on the WCC’s Mission and Evangelism Unit 2 (1991-99), its Orthodox Task Force (1982-92), and membership on its Central Committee.
As Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director, Archbishop Aykazian is a prominent representative of the Armenian Church and a spokesman for Armenian causes in the United States.