LOS ANGELES, ANTELIAS – On Wednesday, October 19, 2011, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I led an ecumenical prayer service, with the participation of spiritual leaders and clergy from the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches, Coptic, Syriac, and Antiochian Orthodox Churches, and the Roman Catholic Church.

The prayer service was hosted by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese and took place at St. Mary and St. Athanasius Church in Northridge.

Participating in the prayer service were H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, H.G. Bishop Serapion (Coptic Church), H.E. Archbishop Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan (Syriac Church), Bishop Joseph Zehlaoui (Antiochian Church), Rt. Rev. Alexei Smith (Roman Catholic Church), Very Rev. Fr. Krikor Chahinian (Armenian Catholic Church), and Rev. Joe Matossian (Armenian Evangelical Union), and clergy members from each of the Churches. The Prelate was accompanied by H.E. Archbishop Yeprem Tabakian and clergy members.

With the singing of the “Hrashapar” hymn, His Holiness entered the Church accompanied by the clergy. Prayers were then offered by the leaders or clergy of each Church in their respective languages, followed by readings from the Bible.

Remarks were delivered by Bishop Serapion, Archbishop Kaplan, and Bishop Zehlaoui, all of whom reflected on the current situation in the Middle East and specifically on the recent clashes in Egypt, and expressed their hope for peace to prevail in the region. Bishop Serapion conveyed the greetings and well wishes of H.H. Pope Shenouda III to His Holiness.

The Prelate spoke of the purpose and significance of the ecumenical gathering, and invited His Holiness to deliver his message.

After greeting the clergy, His Holiness commended Bishop Serapion, who he has known for many years, speaking highly of his service in ecumenical affairs from the Middle East to the United States, and expressed his thanks to the Bishop for hosting the gathering.

His Holiness noted that Christian Churches were established on the basis of peace, that peace forms the heart of our Churches and the foundation of our mission. Christians are disciples of peace and must remain so, and with their faith, knowledge, and hope, must preserve their identity in the Middle East as they have deep roots in the region and form a part of the region’s rich and ancient culture. Being a disciple of peace does not mean being stagnant, it means protecting one’s rights, assuming responsibility of obligations, and contributing to the development of democracy. His Holiness concluded by calling for strengthening of ecumenical collaboration.

An exchange of mementos followed, after which His Holiness and clergy were hosted to lunch by the Coptic Church.