Armenian Apostolic Church – Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
From October 31 to November 3, 2009, the third Diocesan Representative Assembly of the Armenian Church is being held in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will preside over the meetings, with the participation of representatives from the Armenian Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Constantinople; Diocesan Primates from Armenia and the Diaspora; high ranking clergy; Members of the Supreme Spiritual Council and representatives of the laity.
On October 30th, the representatives attended an evening services held in the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, where a joint prayer was offered for success in the forthcoming meetings. At the conclusion of the service His Holiness asked that Almighty God grant the participants wisdom, and that the Holy Spirit lead them during the meetings for the glorification of God, the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church and her faithful.
On October 31, the opening ceremony of the meeting was held under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II. In attendance for the opening session were Mr. Bako Sahakian, President of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh; and Mr. Tigran Sargsian, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and Chairman of the Diocesan Council of the Araratian Pontifical Diocese.
The meeting opened with the Lord’s Prayer. His Holiness extended His Pontifical Blessings, welcoming the ecclesiastical and lay delegates from the Hierarchal Sees and Dioceses worldwide, who had traveled to the Mother See to participate in the Assembly.
In his remarks, His Holiness reflected on the development of general guidelines for the Armenian Church in recent history, affirming that the mission of the Church is aided by uniform administration. His Holiness noted that the aim of the meeting was to review, discuss and approve the guidelines on Diocesan Bylaws and Parish Policies.
“The establishment of guidelines for the Diocesan Bylaws will create stable circumstances for administering Diocesan life. The adoption of this document will be a substantial step in the process of the establishment of the Armenian Church Bylaws, and underscore the historical-canonical character of the Armenian Church” stated His Holiness, stressing the importance of everyone’s participation in the discussion for the welfare and reinforcement of the Church.
Mr. Bako Sahakian, President of the Republic of Nagorno Kharabagh welcomed the participants of the meeting, emphasizing the importance of their work. President Sahakian stressed the important participation and role of the Armenian Church in the life of Nagorno Kharabagh. The president spoke on the successes in different spheres of life in Artsakh, current issues facing Armenians living in Artsakh and the efforts made by statesmen and clergy for the resolution of these issues. The President stressed the importance of the continuous support of Armenians all over the world for the welfare of Artsakh.
Mr. Tigran Sargsian, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia also delivered welcoming remarks. The Prime Minister reflected on the relations and close cooperation between the Church and State, stressing the significant role of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the preservation of the national identity. He expressed confidence that the outcome of the meeting would contribute to the fulfillment of the mission of the Church, and aid in undertaking present day challenges. During the opening the participants also touched on life in the Homeland and the normalization process of Armenian-Turkish relations.
Following the official opening, elections were held for members of different working committees. His Eminence Archbishop Khajak Parsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America and His Eminence Archbishop Yeznik Petrosian, General Secretary of Inter Church Relations and Director of the Publishing Center of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin were appointed as co-Chairmen of the meeting. Co-Vice chairman Dr. Vilen Hakobian of the Republic of Armenia and Dn. Dr. Varouj Altebarmakian, of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, both members of the Supreme Spiritual Council, were also elected to serve, as well as secretaries and a Balloting Committee. The delegates will hold deliberations in separate working groups as well as discuss and summarize the results of the meeting in general sessions.