February 3, 2016
Struggle for freedom of conscience and worship

Armenians worldwide will celebrate the Feast of Vartanantz tomorrow, commemorating the war between pagan Persia and Christian Armenia in 451. The king of Persia ordered all Christians under his rule to abandon Christianity and embrace Zoroastrianism. The Armenian clergy and leaders refused to follow this command and took an oath to fight the enemies of truth.

Before the two armies met on the morning of May 26, 451, Vartan Mamigonian, the leader of the Armenian forces, addressed his soldiers:

“He who supposes that we put on Christianity like a garment, now realizes that as he cannot change the color of his skin, so he will perhaps never be able to accomplish his designs. For the foundations of our faith are set on the unshakeable rock, not on earth but above in heaven where no rains fall, no winds blow, and no floods rise. Although in the body we are on earth, yet by faith we are established in heaven where no one can reach the building of Christ not made by human hands.”

Vartan was the leader of the Armenians in the decisive battle on the plains of Avarayr, and although outnumbered, the Armenians put up a fierce resistance against the mighty Persian Empire. Vartan and many of his soldiers died, but the Persians sustained even greater casualties, and they recognized the strong commitment the Armenians had to their Christian faith. With this battle the Armenians clearly demonstrated that Christianity had become a part of their national identity.

The resistance to Persian rule continued for more than thirty years, led by Vahan Mamigonian, nephew of Vartan. Vahan successfully negotiated the Treaty of Nvarsag, one of the earliest documents granting religious freedom and home rule.

The Armenian Church canonized the heroes of Vartanank as a group in the fifth century. Last year our generation witnessed the historic collective canonization of the 1.5 million martyrs of the Armenian genocide. It was the first canonization by the Armenian Church since the 15th century when Krikor Datevatzi was granted sainthood.

In the Eastern Prelacy we have two parishes named in honor of the Vartanank saints. Archbishop Oshagan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon tomorrow at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, New Jersey. Following the Liturgy a luncheon will be hosted by the parish’s Ladies Guild, and a special Vartanantz program will be presented by the students (grades 4 to 8) of the Hovnanian School. On Sunday His Grace Bishop Anoushavan will celebrate the Divine Liturgy and deliver the sermon at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Providence, Rhode Island.

Clergy from the Eastern Prelacy gathered for their annual clergy conference on the occasion of the Feast of St. Ghevont and the Priests this week. St. Asdvadzadzin Church in Whitinsville, Massachusetts, hosted the gathering. Under the direction of the Prelate Archbishop Oshagan the participants focused on the message of His Holiness Aram I declaring 2016 as “The Year of Service.” During the 3-day gathering the clergy participated in prayer services, meditations, and liturgical services that were a source of renewal.
The clergy in a group photo.
The Honorary David Erikson and Sarine Hagopian presenting their lectures.
The clergy meeting in Whitinsville.
One of many prayer services during the three-day conference.
Archbishop Oshagan will travel to Lebanon next week where he will attend the meeting of the Central Executive of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia in Antelias.

The Religious and Executive Councils of the Eastern Prelacy will convene their monthly meeting this Friday and Saturday, February 5 and 6, at the Prelacy offices in Manhattan.

St. Gregory Church, North Andover, Massachusetts, marked its 46th anniversary last Sunday. Archbishop Oshagan celebrated the Divine Liturgy, delivered the sermon, and presided over the anniversary luncheon that followed. Several highlights helped to commemorate the anniversary. 

During the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Oshagan ordained four new acolytes:  Richard Shahtanian, Robert Mahlebjian, James Kochakian, and Alexander Movsessian. The four ordinates were given gifts and books by the pastor Der Stephan Baljian, who commended them for their diligence over the past six months preparing for their ordination. Witnessing the ordination were students of the Sunday and Armenian schools where the boys are enrolled.

Archbishop Oshagan told the congregation that this was his favorite part of his duties—introducing children to the inner workings of the church. “May you all become role models in encouraging other youth to play an active role,” he said.

Following an anniversary luncheon in Jaffarian Hall, four other momentous events took place. Chake Boloian was presented a Certificate of Merit for 46 years of diligent membership in the church choir. Chake was joined by members of her family after being introduced by son John, who currently is a member of the Board of Trustees.

A bequest of $85,000 was announced in memory of the late Harry and Rose Narzakian and their parents. Both were vital members of the church and community through their lifetimes. The sum joins another bequest made by Cora Der Koorkanian in memory of her late husband George. Attorney Gregory Arabian’s gift of $67,000 (in memory of parents Sirarpi and Haroutune) enabled the church to construct a long-awaited lift for the handicapped. Also recognized at the candle-lighting ceremony was trustee Joseph Almasian for his invaluable service to the church.

Chairwoman Christine Kourkounian reviewed the positive developments at St. Gregory Church, including a sizable rise in membership. Der Stephan lauded the trustees and members for the growth and accomplishments of his congregation, predicting that even better yeas are ahead.
(Reported by Tom Vartabedian).

Photos by Tom Vartabedian
Archbishop Oshagan with the newly ordained acolytes and altar servers.
Chake Boloian, who was honored with an award from the Prelacy for her 46 years of commitment to the church choir, is seen here with Archbishop Oshagan, Der Stephan Baljian, and members of her family.
Attorney Gregory Arabian (holding plaque) was recognized for his $67,000 gift that enabled a handicapped lift at St. Gregory Church in memory of his parents. He is seen here with brother Jack, Archbishop Oshagan, and Der Stephan.
Bible readings for Sunday, February 7, Poon Paregentan (Eve of Great Lent), are: Isaiah 58:1-14; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 6:1-21.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves beak in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:1-21)

For a listing of the coming week’s Bible readings click here.
This Saturday, February 6, the Armenian Church celebrates the Feast of the 150 Fathers of the Council of Constantinople, the second ecumenical council convened by Emperor Theodosius in 381. This council confirmed the work of the first council at Nicaea, and added five articles to the Nicene Creed regarding the Holy Spirit, the Church, Baptism, and Resurrection. The Council of Constantinople is one of the three ecumenical councils recognized by the Armenian Church.

This Sunday, February 7, is Poon Paregentan, the eve of Great Lent (Medz Bahk). Poon means “real” or “genuine,” and distinguishes this paregentan from others in the liturgical calendar prior to other periods of fasting. Paregentan literally means “good living.”

Poon Paregentan ushers the faithful into the Lenten period of fasting, penance, and reconciliation. During Lent the Church takes on a solemn appearance. The altar curtain is closed starting from the evening of Poon Paregentan, symbolic of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Holy Communion is not offered during Lent and the faithful are encouraged to use this period leading to Easter as a time of prayer and meditation to strengthen their faith.

Paregentan Sunday is the last day before the start of Lent. It is marked with good and abundant food, merriment, entertainment, and festivities of various kinds. Traditionally, all the food in the house that is forbidden during Lent would be consumed on Paregentan or given to non-Christian neighbor. During Lent all animal product, including dairy and eggs, are forbidden. The earliest Armenian tradition was even stricter and was referred to as Aghouhatz (salt and bread) because of its stringent restrictions.

Great Lent (Medz Bahk or Karasnortkh) begins this Monday, February 8. Great Lent is the longest of the fasts in the liturgical calendar. It begins on the Monday immediately following Poon Paregentan, and continues for 40 days until the Friday before the commemoration of the raising of Lazarus on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. A new period of fasting is observed during Holy Week.

Great Lent, a time of prayer, penance, abstinence, and devotion, is a very personal spiritual journey that is based on the 40 days Christ spent in the wilderness following his baptism. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished” (Matthew 4:1-2).

Last October during the united clergy conference of the Eastern, Western, and Canadian Prelacies, many important matters were presented and discussed. One major concern regarded Great Lent. Because Lent is a time of prayer, meditation, and introspection in preparation of the resurrection of our Lord, it was decided that all social events and celebrations should not take place in the Church or the Church Hall. This includes wedding ceremonies both in the church and at an outside venue.  Our faithful are encouraged to follow these recommendations and all church affiliated organizations and communities are urged to respect this time of year and take this recommendation into consideration when planning future events.

The Lenten Lecture Program Series will begin next Wednesday, February 10, and continue on five consecutive Wednesdays. The program is sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC), the Prelacy Ladies Guild (PLG), and Ladies Guild of St. Illuminator’s Cathedral. All of the lectures will focus on the 2016 “Year of Service,” proclaimed by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. 

The topic of the first lecture presented by Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, pastor of St. Sarkis Church in Douglaston, New York, is “The Notion of Service in the Old Testament.” 

All six lectures will take place at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, with a church service at 7 pm, followed by the lecture and Q/A, and conclude with a table fellowship. For information contact the Prelacy office at 212-689-7810 (arec@armenianprelacy.org); or the cathedral office at 212-689-5880 (office@stilluminators.org).
A regional Board of Trustees Workshop will take place for the parishes in the Midwest on Saturday, March 5, beginning at 10 am and concluding at 4:30 pm. The workshop is being hosted by All Saints Church in Glenview, Illinois. His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan will preside and members of the Religious and Executive Councils will participate.

The 33rd Musical Armenia concert will take place on Friday, March 11, 8 pm at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This year the Musical Armenia committee is excited to present the pianist Sofya Melikyan and NUR (a collaboration of the lyric soprano Rosy Anoush Svazlian and the pianist/composer Andrea Manzoni. The Musical Armenia series is sponsored by the Eastern Prelacy and the Prelacy Ladies Guild. Tickets for the concert are twenty-five dollars.

This is the 33rd concert in this much-loved series that dates back to 1982. Established by the late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian and the Prelacy Ladies Guild, Musical Armenia is dedicated to promoting young Armenian artists and to the performance of music by Armenian composers. Over the past thirty-four years many of the program’s performers have established solid professional careers.

Throughout Musical Armenia’s more than three-decades-long history the price of tickets have been kept low thanks to the support of dedicated sponsors who have made the continuation of the Musical Armenia tradition a priority. As a sponsor of Musical Armenia you can make a key contribution to the development of talented musicians as they strive for success in their various musical fields. All donations will be acknowledged in the concert booklet.

Donations in any amount are deeply appreciated. The categories of sponsorship are: Diamond ($1,000); Platinum ($500); Gold ($300); Silver ($200); Friend (any amount). Diamond, Platinum, and Gold sponsors will receive two complimentary tickets.

Click here to donate online Choose "Musical Armenia" in the designations list. Click here for a Sponsorship Form that can be mailed with your donation to the Armenian Prelacy, 138 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016. For information or to purchase tickets contact the Prelacy by telephone (212-689-7810) or by email (sophie@armenianprelacy.org). 
St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School (SSAES) will celebrate its 30th anniversary on Saturday, March 12, at the Sorenson Center for the Arts (Babson College) in Wellesley, Massachusetts. This much anticipated event is designed to bring together the Armenian community to celebrate the School’s founding and its subsequent many achievements.

“Celebrating our school’s 30th anniversary is a testament to the resilience of our Armenian community and its unshakable belief in the value of a solid Armenian education,” principal Houry Boyamian said. “We hope that this important anniversary will inspire many members of the Armenian community, wherever they are, to show their support and contribute by giving to what is the only prelacy school on the east coast,” she added.

Located in Watertown, Massachusetts, SSAES consists of a pre-school and an elementary school with a bilingual curriculum steeped in Armenian culture, including daily lessons of Armenian language. Since 2004, every graduating fifth grade class takes a school-organized trip to Armenia.

Current and past parent volunteers are working at coordinating all the details of this event, which is also meant as a major fundraiser for the School. “We do have a supportive community and we are expecting a great turnout,” committee chair Sarkis Ourfalian said.

The evening will start off with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a program in the theatre-style auditorium, including a concert performance by acclaimed singer Alla Levonyan from Armenia, and pianist Jasmin Atabekyan. The event will conclude with a dessert reception. Tickets are $125 per person and may be purchased online (www.mkt.com/ssaes) or by email (30years@ssaes.org) or by phone (617-926-6979.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Birth of Hovhannes Adamian
(February 5, 1879)

Our flat TVs would be less colorful if not for a little known Armenian engineer who introduced a device to broadcast color images 91 years ago.

Hovhannes (Ivan) Adamian was the son of an Armenian oil businessman, born in Baku (nowadays Azerbaijan) on February 5, 1879. He was already into science in his school years, and after graduating in 1897, he moved to Europe. He first graduated from the section of chemistry at the University of Zurich, and in 1901 obtained his degree of electrical engineer from the University of Berlin. In those years, he built a laboratory, where he made his first inventions. Maurice Le Blanc had made the first proposal for a color system in television, without any practical details, as early as 1880, and Polish inventor had patented a color television system in 1897, which could not have worked as he described. Adamian made the first attempt to broadcast color images through cable at a distance of 600 kilometers (373 miles) and patented his first television project on March 31, 1908, in Germany, and on April 1, 1908, in Great Britain. Two years later, he patented it in France and in Russia.
In late 1913 the Armenian engineer moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, which would be called Leningrad from 1924 until the fall of the Soviet Union. He created a laboratory by his own means and continued his scientific experiments. In 1920 he wrote: “I have felt the happiness of creative work only here, and now I am happy and satisfied with my cherished wishes, despite all the privations I suffer; I work in a cold room and I am often forced to bring water from far away.”

His two decades of research bore fruits five years later. In February 1925 he presented the first project for a system of continuous color television and made a demonstration at a special laboratory created in Yerevan State University, where he fabricated and operated a device of tricolor broadcast called “Herades” (Հեռատես, “Televisor”) in the presence of a special committee. He succeeded in showing a number of color figures and patterns on a screen, transferred from the laboratory next door. His tricolor principle was the basis for the first experimental color television, shown in London in 1928.

Adamian passed away from liver cancer on September 12, 1932, at the age of 53, in Leningrad. He was buried at the local Armenian cemetery, and his remains were brought to Yerevan and reburied at the Pantheon of famous Armenians in 1970.

Previous entries in “This Week in Armenian History” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)
Adamian's grave at the Pantheon in Yerevan.
Prepared by the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC)
Diplomats May Also Know about Couches
The English language has borrowed two words from Turkish within the meaning of “couch.” One is sofa, and the other, divan. Of course, neither of them is Turkish. The Turkic waves of invasion that flooded the Middle East from the 11th-15th centuries were composed by nomad peoples that, usually, did not sit down on sofas or divans, but adopted those objects and their names from Arabic (suffah and diwan).

The interesting point is that the origin of divan is Iranian. The Pahlavi word devan originally meant “archive,” and an archive included rolls of documents, bundles of written sheets, and collections of law, poetry, records, etcetera. The place where they were kept was also called devan, and the name also extended to the courts, where such records were also maintained.  This is how the word went into Armenian as tivan (դիւան, pronounced divan in Classical Armenian), which meant “hall,” “court of justice,” “school,” and “archive,” in the Bible and among writers of the fifth century like Goriun and Movses Khorenatsi. The same word was also used, much later, with the meaning “collection of poems.”

The Armenian language did not content itself by borrowing tivan, but also created compound words like tivanabed (դիւանապետ “chief of the archive, chancellor”).

Now, Middle Eastern council chambers and courts had long cushioned seats along their walls, which by extension were called divan, and the word entered various languages (Russian, French, Spanish, and English) with that meaning. It also entered Armenian.

What is the relation between a diplomat and a couch? The fact is that the word “diplomacy” was translated into Armenian as tivanakidootioon (դիւանագիտութիւն), which literally means “science of the archives/office” (tivan = archive/office, kidootioon = science) and a diplomat, be it an ambassador, a consul or a chargé of affairs, is first of all a tivanaked (դիւանագէտ). As such, the word by definition shows him or her not only as knowledgeable on archives and offices, but also... on couches, particularly those called divan /դիւան...

Previous entries in “The Armenian Language Corner” are on the Prelacy’s web site (www.armenianprelacy.org)

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Armenian Prelacy
138 E. 39th Street
New York, NY 10016
Checks payable to: Armenian Apostolic Church of America
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SIAMANTO ACADEMY—Meets every second Saturday of the month at the Hovnanian School, 817 River Road, New Milford, New Jersey. For information: anec@armenianprelacy.org or 212-689-7810.

February 1-3—Annual Ghevontiantz Clergy Gathering, hosted by St. Asdvadtzadzin Church, Whitinsville, Massachusetts.

February 10—Prelacy Lenten Program, “The notion of service in the Old Testament,” by Rev. Fr. Nareg Terterian, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7 pm.

February 17—Prelacy Lenten Program, “Jesus as the Servant of God,” by Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Sarkissian, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7 pm.

February 24—Prelacy Lenten Program, “Service in patristic thought,” by Bishop Anoushavan Tanielian, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7 pm.

February 27—Sunday School Teachers’ Seminar, Mid-Atlantic Region, “Baptism, Chrismation, and the Eucharist: The Foundation of our Life in Christ,” at Sts. Vartanantz Church, 461 Bergen Boulevard, Ridgefield, New Jersey, 10 am to 3 pm, lunch 12 noon to 1 pm. Sponsored by the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC)—Eastern Prelacy. The seminar will be conducted by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, AREC Director. For information contact the AREC office by phone (212-689-7810) or email (arec@armenianprelacy.org).

March 2—Prelacy Lenten Program, “We were all pledged at baptism to serve God,” by Dn. Shant Kazanjian, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7 pm.

March 5—Midwest Board of Trustees Regional Workshop, hosted by All Saints Armenian Church, Glenview, Illinois, 10 am to 4:30 pm.

March 9—Prelacy Lenten Program, “Qualities of the servants of the Lord,” by Archpriest Fr. Nerses Manoogian, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7 pm.

March 12—30th anniversary of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School at Sorenson Center for the Arts (Babson College), Wellesley, Massachusetts. Tickets ($125) may be purchased online (www.mkt.com/ssaes) by email (30years@ssaes.org), or by phone (617-926-6979.

March 16—Prelacy Lenten Program, “Service is the obligation of the community and government structures,” by Mrs. Silva Takvorian, at St. Illuminator’s Cathedral, 221 East 27th Street, New York City, 7 pm.

March 11—33rd Musical Armenia, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 57th Street and 7th Avenue, with Sofya Melikian, piano; and NUR featuring Rosy Anoush Svazlian and Andrea Manzoni, soprano and piano. Tickets: $25. Box office: 212-247-7800; Prelacy: 212-689-7810; email@armenianprelacy.org.
Web pages of the parishes can be accessed through the Prelacy’s web site.
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Parishes of the Eastern Prelacy are invited to send information about their major events to be included in the calendar. Send to: info@armenianprelacy.org
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