|Over 750 Attend the Conference
Seven hundred and fifty members of the church had travelled from throughout the country to the beauty of the Pennsylvania Mountains to share, worship and grow together with their Primate, His Eminence Mor Titus Yeldho, Archbishop and Patriarchal Vicar. Even more, young and old came together with their clergy for this special week held at the Kalahari Resorts and Convention Center. The excitement level was high. The event had sold-out only a month after reservations began being taken earlier this year!
The comparisons between both our communities – Armenian and Indian – are striking. Issues that we struggle with in the Armenian Church – such as culture and religion, language, assimilation, relevancy – are part of the common conversation. The Indian Orthodox Community, they told me, came to America in the 1970’s, about 70 years after the first Armenian communities were established here. Many of the challenges we encountered during the first few decades of our church’s life in the New World are the ones they feel today. In a very real sense, while speaking to many of the members of their church I felt as if I was looking at the church of our grandparents. We are here in America with new sets of rules and conforming to the societal pressures while trying to remain steadfast to the values and traditions that uniquely define us and give our lives meaning. While in this “time-travel” state I was hoping that reciprocally, in me they would have an opportunity to peer at the church of their grandchildren. There is a lot to learn from each other. While the Armenian Church has been here almost twice as long, ironically it still struggles with the hurdle of language – a hurdle which the Indian community has jumped and, as we witnessed, the youth participate at a very real level of engagement in the liturgies and prayer services.
|Susan during the parade
|During the Opening Ceremonies
Those words became my motivation to bring the dimension of outreach and healing to my ministry. And here, a quarter of a century later, I had a chance to share the Gospel message, as it passed through the Armenian people and Armenian Church, to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Personally, this was a very humbling and spiritually rewarding experience.