A regular meeting of the Supreme Spiritual Council convened in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin from February 24 through 26, under the presidency of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, with the attendance of the general members. The first session was opened with the Lord’s Prayer and remarks by His Holiness. His Holiness noted that this was the first meeting being convened during the cherished year of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, and the agenda included organizational issues related to the anniversary events, and various ecclesiastical and diocesan matters. The Supreme Patriarch expressed his wish to the members for productive sessions, noting confidence that the decisions adopted during the meeting will benefit the scheduled events, support the effective offering of religious services, and help the progress of the spiritual life of the church.
The rotating co-chairman for the meeting sessions were His Eminence Archbishop Aram Ateshian, Patriarchal Vicar of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople; Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of North America; Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of North America; and His Grace Bishop Arshak Khachatryan, Chancellor of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The Supreme Spiritual Council members discussed the commemorative events and the Canonization service which will be held from April 22 to 24 in Mother See. Reports were presented by His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan, His Grace Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan and His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manoukyan. The council discussed issues related to the April 22 Vigil, the Divine Liturgy and Canonization services on April 23, details about the preparation of icons and reliquaries, the harmonic collaberation process of the canonization hymn, as well as the participation of the Armenian Church in other commemoration events.
At the invitation of the Mother See, over 70 representatives from 38 churches, ecumenical organizations, and religious organizations, will participate in the April 22-24 events. Among them are four leaders from the Sister churches and three from the Eastern Orthodox family, eight presidents of ecumenical organizations, general secretaries, delegations from the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant Churches, and clergymen from Rwanda and Darfur. The events will be attended by representatives from all Armenian Diocese over the world.
The Supreme Spiritual Council expressed satisfaction at the work that had been completed, and instructed the presenters to continue the proper organization of the planned events with the same zeal.
His Eminence Archbishop Khajak Barsamyan and His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manoukyan presented a report on the commemoration events for the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, scheduled to be held in the spiritual centers of the Sister Churches and in the Armenian communities of the Diaspora.
The Council reviewed a draft of the general guidelines for the Pan-Armenian Church Youth Organization, in a report that was presented by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. The Pan-Armenian Church Youth Organization will convene its third International Assembly in the Mother See in July, 2015.
His Grace Bishop Arshak Khachatryan presented an annual report on the activities of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin for 2014, in which reports were made on the Pontifical visits and receptions during the last year, the intra-church and Ecumenical projects implemented, the Brotherhood of the Mother See, activities of the departments and programs of the Mother See, and the Church’s activities in the preaching, educational and social mission.
It was noted that the Catholicosate of All Armenians has 737 clergymen – 56 Archbishops and Bishops, 43 Very Reverend and Reverend Fathers, 50 monks, 446 married priests and 142 Deacons. Last year, 3 Reverend Fathers were ordained and consecrated to Bishop, and 27 married priests and 22 deacons were ordained.
In 2014, 982 employees worked for the Mother See. There were 230 students studying in the religious- educational institutions of the Mother See – 104 in the Gevorkian Theological Seminary, 74 in the Vaskenian Theological Academy at Lake Sevan, 39 in the Harichavanq Trpanchyan High School, and 23 in the accelerated clergy training course. The 7 Youth Centers operating through the joint sponsorship of the Mother See and AGBU; educated more than 3,000 children and youth, and in 2014 organized over 225 various events on the occasion of church, national and state Feast days.
Last year, the Mother See continued to implement extensive religious programs in different areas of our national life: public education, youth organizations, the RA Armed Forces, the penitentiary institutions, and as well as in the monasteries under the direct supervision of the Mother See.
The Social Service Department of the Mother See was founded in January, 2014 under the presidency of His Holiness, and has offered assistance through all possible means to the most vulnerable population groups. In the reporting year, a large volume of support has been implemented, including cash assistance, to 25,000 people.
In the Armenian and Dispora dioceses, 18 new churches were consecrated in 2014, and 98 churches are under construction or renovation. 896 parishes and mission parishes operate within the dioceses, with 241 Sunday Schools.
The Council also received the 2014 Financial Report of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. During the sessions, reports were submitted about the selection process for primates of the Armenian Diocese of Great Britain and Ireland; and the Armenian Diocese of Bulgaria, as well as issues related to Holland, Belgium and the Far East ecclesiastical communities were discussed.
The meeting was closed with remarks by the Catholicos of All Armenians and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.