e-Tsayn e-Voice is a publication of
The Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate Department of Mission Parishes Rev. Fr. Tateos R. Abdalian, Director www.armenianchurch.net Diocesan Office: 212.686.0710
a few words from der tateos . . . I subscribe to various Christian websites that provide helpful insight to ministry. These sites offer information as to what is happening within American religious communities and faith denominations, and with religion and faith issues in general. The following article entitled What’s Changing, What's Not is interesting and a bit exasperating to say the least. While I do agree with much of what it is saying, I also know that to have it collectively applied in our Armenian Church by our clergy and councils will require a resourceful creativity and daring that we historically have avoided. No doubt, the idea of change creates controversy, but awareness to the changing lifestyles of people – our people - should increase our desire to at least begin the discussion in finding solutions to our problems and a new creativeness to our methodologies. With each topic mentioned here, sadly our Armenian Church lags far behind. Take just the first topic of social media. Effective communication must be the first priority in bringing the Gospel message to our people. In the days of the early Church, this was done orally. Then the teachings of Christ were written down and taken to various churches for people to be able to share in the Good News. The written word remained as the primary method of communication for centuries until the advent of radio, and then television. Today in the midst of the technology revolution, other churches are effectively using such means of communication to "spread the word". You can be certain that right now someone somewhere is developing software for churches to use with the new iPad. While some of our parishes still do not have websites or email listings for their parishioners, we are told that such a mode of communication is becoming obsolete. Twitter and Facebook have more or less replaced them, at least with the young generation. And if our clergy, councils and organizational leaders have no idea about these, I suggest they find some teenager to teach them – and quickly. Even Holy Etchmiadzin is on Facebook and Twitter! When the haughtiness of individuals within our churches results in a refusal to open windows to allow some fresh new ideas to take hold, we loose the ability to move ahead, resulting in intelligent, talented and forwardthinking people to either stay at home or go elsewhere to experience God. After reading the article and visualizing how the Armenian Church is doing in these areas, perhaps you can begin the discussion at your Parish Assemblies, with your Pastors or Parish Councils, asking the questions as to where the focus of their attention is being applied. You may be surprised at the answers.
But then again, maybe not.
What's Changing, What's Not The trends that will be impacting your ministry in the year ahead. reported by Marian Liautaud [Dave Travis, managing director of Leadership Network, offers his state of the church in America, based on recent research and his own observations looking through the "keyhole" of large churches.] Things That Are Changing Social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 85 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds use social networking at least once a week. Senior pastors under 40 who are leading large churches all use social media. Travis: "This is a radical shift in how we understand leadership. Fifteen years ago, pastors were wondering how they could be less accessible. Today, younger pastors want more access." Internet campuses. Turnkey solutions are being developed that make it cheap and accessible for all churches to incorporate an internet campus. Travis: "For some this will be a fad, but for others this is going to be a big part of their reaching strategy going forward." Online giving. It's here, and it's growing. If churches want to encourage donations from people in the pews, they're going to have to provide more natural ways for them to give. Travis: "Younger leaders recognize that no one carries cash or checkbooks anymore." Declining mobility rate. Americans have stopped uprooting (that is, relocating at least 10 miles from their current home) at the pace they used to. According to a Nielsen study, the percent of the U.S. population that moves is at an all-time low. This could spell trouble for churches whose growth is tied to the turnover rate. Things We'll See Changing Soon Women as teaching pastors. Travis: "Currently, only 8 percent of churches have women teachers. They'll soon be part of multi-teacher teams." Missionaries coming to the U.S. from developing countries to plant churches here. Travis: "This will not be just for their kinship group but under the wider mandate of the Great Commission." Funerals. Travis: "We are seeing more cremations. And funerals are becoming more of a community experience, not pastor- or funeral parlor-led." More evening funerals have implications for church facilities. Wise funeral homes will not build chapels and instead partner with churches. Things That Should Be Changing by Now But Aren't Greener churches. Travis: "Going green adds credibility in the community. I would have
thought more churches would have embraced this opportunity by now." Ministries to the "encore" generation (55+). Travis: "With the huge baby boomer population in this demographic, I'm surprised we're not seeing growth for this sector." Of course, many are boomer churches. Remote church offices. "More churches should be looking at moving their administrative offices out of the church building and into less expensive office space. This could help churches gain much-needed ministry space instead of having to build or relocate." Copyright ÂŠ 2010 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.
The Saints That We Commemorate St. Sarkis the Warrior and His Son, St. Mardiros The feast day honoring St. Sarkis occurs on January 30. Each year it follows the five-day Fast of Catechumens. Sarkis was a Greek from the area of Cappadocia on the Anatolian plain. He was a proud, brave Christian and served as a Roman army officer during the reign of Emperor Constantine (roughly 337 A.D.). Sarkis' valor, strength, and bravery earned him the rank of general. Sarkis used his position of power for spiritual growth, going from town to town purging the land of pagan idols, teaching the Gospel, and building churches where pagan temples once stood. Sarkis had a good model in the piety of the Emperor Constantine. When Constantine died, Christianity throughout the region came under attack from the new Roman leader, Julian the Apostate. Under his leadership, pagans set about destroying churches and persecuting Christians. Seeing this, Sarkis prayed. Jesus appeared to him and said, "It is time for you to leave your country and your clan, as did Abraham the Patriarch, and go to a country which I will show you. There you will receive the crown of righteousness prepared for you." Sarkis left behind his noble title and power and headed with his son, Mardiros, to Armenia, where King Diran, grandson of King Drtad, welcomed them. While Sarkis and Mardiros were in Armenia, the Emperor Julian, attempting to take over the known world, continued to move eastward toward Antioch in Syria. Whenever the Roman army came upon Christians, they were instantly killed. Many people fled the invading armies. King Diran urged Sarkis to escape and seek refuge among the Persians.
When Sarkis and his son arrived in Persia, King Shapur, hearing of his bravery, appointed him a commander of the Persian military. As he continued to be victorious in battle, Sarkis also continued to give the credit to God. When Julian's troops started raiding lands near King Shapur's kingdom, Sarkis was sent to defend the territory. Outnumbered by the Greek and Roman forces, Sarkis' troops were frightened. He told them that if they believed in the Creator of heaven and earth, their hearts would never be shaken. The priests traveling with the army baptized many of his soldiers and they succeeded in fending off a Roman attack. Some of Sarkis' soldiers, who had not been baptized, went to King Shapur and told him that Sarkis was rebelling against the Persian ruler by preaching belief in Jesus. The king called Sarkis back to the palace, where he, his son, and the newly baptized soldiers were expected to attend a feast honoring the pagan gods. At the temple, the king asked Sarkis to offer a sacrifice to the pagan gods. Sarkis refused, saying he would only worship the one, true God. The king began to criticize Sarkis and his faith. But Sarkis could not tolerate such talk, so he spat in the king's face and knocked down the temple idols. The king and his followers were enraged by Sarkis' actions, so they killed his son, Mardiros, before his eyes. The king then ordered Sarkis imprisoned. In prison Sarkis was strengthened by his relationship with the Lord. King Shapur heard of this and ordered Sarkis' execution. At his execution, Sarkis began to pray. An angel descended from heaven and told him, "Be strong. Do not fear the killers of your body; for the gate of the Kingdom of Heaven is open for you." Upon seeing the angel and understanding the power of everlasting life, many of the pagans who had gathered for the execution became Christians. Sarkis made one last passionate plea for people to accept Jesus Christ, and then was killed. His loyal Christian soldiers retrieved Sarkis' body and wrapped it in clean linen with the intention of burying his body honorably. When King Shapur heard of this reverence, he ordered the soldiers killed as well. Eventually, Christians found Sarkis' body and it was sent to Assyria, where it remained until the fifth century, when Mesrob Mashdots received his remains and moved them to Armenia. Extracted from the website of the Diocese of the Armenian Church
THE YEAR OF VOCATIONS At the 2009 Diocesan Assembly, the Primate declared this to be the â€œYear of Vocationsâ€?, addressing the serious problem of a lack of clergy to minister to our parishes and faithful. During the assembly, an entire
day was devoted to this problem and together, clergy and delegates began the process of discussing how they and their parishes can and must help in solving this problem which, left by itself, is seen only to worsen in the future. During the course of this year – and hopefully beyond – issues will be presented here that addresses these concerns. Each community within our Diocese received a hand-book entitled “Year of Vocations,” and is to use the materials contained therein. This week most appropriately we offer the Prayer for St. Nersess Seminary written by Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan of blessed memory, the founder of St. Nersess.
Prayer for St. Nersess Seminary O Lord Jesus Christ our God, the teacher and savior of all, look upon us, your servants, we beseech you, and bless Saint Nersess Armenian Seminary, named after your servant, the patriarch of the Church of Armenia, and make its workers worthy of fruitful labor in the harvest for which you commanded your apostles to pray to the Lord of the Harvest. Grant to them that instruct and to them that study therein wisdom and godliness that they may be guided in your way. Lead them that are worthy to be chosen vessels for you to heed your call and follow you as did your disciples who proclaimed your truth to give light to the world. Bestow your gifts from on high upon the founders and all the benefactors of the Seminary and make them abound in all good works. Fill us all, we pray to you, with divine and heavenly grace that ever fills the needs of the holy ministry of the Apostolic Church, for the continual building up of the same. Teach us to know, to love and to obey you and give us they strength to prevail against the adversary and to work with diligence and unselfishness in the service of your kingdom, through the intercession of your Blessed Mother Virgin Mary and of Saint Nersess the Graceful and of all the saints with whom we praise you, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. This prayer, composed by the founder of St. Nersess Seminary, Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan (†1989), appeared in the 1963-1964 Academic Catalogue of Saint Nersess Armenian Theological School, Evanston, Illinois.
Books for the Children of Artsakh During a recent visit of January 24 to the Nashville Mission Parish I met an interesting gentleman by the name of Nick Wagner. Nick is an English teacher at Mesrob Mashtots University in Stepanakert, Artsakh. He has begun working on a project to provide books (either new or used) for the children of Artsakh - books suitable for children up to the age of 10.
The books would be provided to the following settings: • • • •
The two “boarding schools” in Stepanakert and Berdashen The Toumanyan Children’s Library in Stepanakert The Artsakh Ministry of Education for the schools of the country The Lady Cox Rehabilitation Center for the pre-school class for children with special needs and those of the staff
If our Mission Parishes or individual parishioners would like to take part in this project, please inform Der Tateos (firstname.lastname@example.org). If there has been a large volume of books collected, he will give instruction as to how and where they should be sent. If an individual would like to send a book or two, you may send these to the Diocese: Attn Der Tateos. This project is being done in cooperation with Aram Avetissyan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh in Washington, D.C. and the United Armenian Fund.
Just as a matter of information . . . You can get the latest videos on the Armenian Church from Armenia and as well as our Diocese. Simply go to: www.youtube.com/easterndiocese Especially for our faithful who are far removed from Armenian parishes or communities, this site can provide a sense of connection to what is happening in
the Armenian Church around the world. Spread the word, get, and stay connected.
Also . . . Parishioners of our Mission Parishes are asked to send in their e-mail addresses so that we will be able to send out our Sunday Bulletin and eTsayn newsletter electronically as well as other notices and announcements. Simply send your name and email address or an address of someone whom you feel would appreciate receiving our publications to: email@example.com or call one of the Parish Council members of your community to give them the information. We encourage you to visit your parish website for a listing of your parish activities, other Armenian Churches, various Orthodox Sites, other news agencies or a way to make a donation. Also, sign-up to receive the e-Newsletter from the Diocese which contains weekly news and information from our Diocese, Mission Parishes and well as our Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. Simply go to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to receive the newsletter.