New York-USA: Members of the United Nations community and Orthodox Christians in the New York metro area gathered for the annual Orthodox Prayer Service and reception at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral on Tuesday, October 18.
The evening began with a procession of clergy from the cathedral plaza to the beat of a kebero—a traditional drum used in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which organized this year’s service. In the narthex of the cathedral, families and children welcomed the procession with dance and song.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), welcomed guests and reflected on the history of the UN Prayer Service, which was initiated in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America.
“We inaugurated this pan-Orthodox service 10 years ago, during a time of darkness and uncertainty for this city,” Archbishop Barsamian said. “But I can vividly recall how the mere act of coming together on that occasion—of sharing our hopes and sorrows with each other—had a powerful effect on everyone present. We emerged strengthened, encouraged, re-committed to helping our respective people through the difficulties of that time.”
Turning to recent violence against Christians in the Middle East, he added: “Tonight, we pray for our brothers and sisters all over the world, in their hour of need. And above all, we pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, for his strength and guidance, and for his peace—which our world so desperately needs.”
The service was led by Archbishop Abuna Zakarias, the head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the eastern and central United States. Other participating church leaders included Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; Bishop Savas, head of the Greek Orthodox Office of Society and Culture; and Bishop Antoun Khouri of the Antiochian Orthodox Church.
The evening’s guest speaker was Ambassador Tekeda Alemu, the permanent representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United Nations. Dr. Alemu emphasized the importance of the “collective efforts of the United Nations community to fully realize” global peace and stability, and noted the role of churches and other community organizations in supporting such efforts.
Following the ambassador’s remarks, Archbishop Zakarias offered a special prayer for the Coptic community. At the conclusion of the service, a reception was held in the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium of the Eastern Diocese.
Organized under the auspices of the Joint Commission of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in North and Central Americas, the annual Prayer Service gives Orthodox Christians an opportunity to come together for worship and to learn more about each other’s culture and heritage by engaging with representatives from the United Nations.
Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America