Tag Archive for: Easter

20 Years Ago: And the kids came

It was 20 years ago today: Untold stories from the Armenian Church Youth Ministries Center

Today’s episode: And then the kids arrived.

Following the Resurrection of Jesus, that is in the first Eastertide season, the Church grew fairly rapidly with regular converts. Christianity was an underground movement, and the Church remained underground until the 4th Century. Very simply, the powers to be were not happy with the Church and her growth. The growth of the first century Church is documented in the book of the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles, which follow Acts in the Biblical canon.

A reading of the Gospels will make it clear that Jesus’ popularity and following did not sit well with the established religious community of his time as well. Why else are we here in the Easter Season? His deeds and teachings sentenced him a torturous and slow death on the Cross, and the Resurrection is the mark of the triumph of Truth. Life won out over death as Love proved stronger than hatred.

The purity and absolute Truth of Jesus Christ was his calling card. This is why the disciples, one-by-one left family and home to follow him. This is why the landscape of the Sermon on the Mount was packed and why there were tens of thousands who needed to be fed in the loaves and fish story. (Matthew 14)

What we were doing with the Armenian Youth Ministries Center was an experiment. We were building on the Faith and Teaching of the Church. Since the earliest days of my ministry as a deacon and as a priest I never understood nor appreciated the bait-and-switch approach to ministry. We’ve heard it often: Come to church, we have a great basketball court. Once you get there, surprise! They have you in a Bible Study. I cannot understand how this is supposed to promote goodwill between the youth and the church. Obviously, the kids that come want to play ball and sit through a Bible Study if it means some time on the court. But what does that entire bait-and-switch operation really saying about the church? Do we feel that our main “product” is so defective or unappealing that we have to trick people into coming? Ideally, you want bring people in on the basis of your Faith – your main product – and afterwards celebrate with fellowship – whether with hoops, on a bowling alley, at a picnic ground.

The truth of the matter is that the YMCA or the local high school have better basketball courts than the church. But there is no one who has a better understanding of the Christianity and the articles of the Faith than the Apostolic Church, the Body of Christ, the one that was there at the time of Christ. And that became the platform on which we built the Youth Ministries Center. Let’s combat the evils that were before us, whether drugs, loneliness, violence, gangs, whatever they may be, let’s combat them with the Love that Jesus Christ offers.

The kids started coming.

After that first Easter word got out that we were on the corner in Glendale. There was no magic to bringing kids in. We left the doors open and curiosity did the rest. It was a quiet haven for those who wanted to get out of the afterschool hustle-bustle. We had a church upstairs and a large multipurpose room downstairs where many kids would come after school just to hang out, do their homework or wait for a parent pick up. There was no covering up that this was a church. In the sanctuary, Bibles were available for the taking. We’d talk about issues. Weekly Bible Studies were attended by the kids and their parents. We had our social activities, but they weren’t the reason, rather they were the places where fellowship took place.

And then came April 24, only 10 days after our opening and four days after Easter. With all the positive energy we were putting out there for our Ministry, the switch to mourning, sorrow, and victimization was not the turn I wanted to take. We had addressed these issues at my former parishes, but this was Glendale. We were in the largest concentration of Armenians outside of Armenia. If there is one thing Armenians all rally around, it’s recognizing the atrocities committed by the Turks against the Armenian Nation culminating in Armenian Genocide. One-and-a-half million Armenians were murdered, and over that amount of people were exiled from their historic homeland.

This was very personal for me. My grandparents are survivors of the Armenian Genocide. I grew up with stories of the Genocide heard firsthand. I resented people who turned on their Armenianness on April 24 and forgot about in on April 25. Further, as a priest, I felt a hypocrisy in celebrating the victory of Life on Easter and tossing the euphoria out the window days later to mourn a crucifixion. If we are the inheritors of the title “First Christian Nation” and “First Genocide of the 20th Century” then we have to come up with a response that reflects both the Resurrection and the horrors of Genocide. We had done it at my parishes in Cupertino and Pasadena, now Glendale was going to feel the power Gospel expressed.

We continue tomorrow with more untold stories from 20 years ago today, and invite you to join us. If you missed earlier episodes, you can hear them on your favorite podcatcher or at Epostle.net under the “Armodoxy for Today” tab. Remember to leave a comment and/or write us at feedback@epostle.net.

Easter connected

Next Step #772 – April 13, 2023 – Fr. Vazken connects to Easter via the net, not out of want but necessity: A personal journey with a new twist and hip. Documenting our years and work. Bishop Daniel Findikyan offers an Easter reflection and homily from the Holy Mother See of Etchmiadzin.
Bishop Daniel’s Easter Homily
The last hokehankist
The Best Real Estate on Earth
Kovya Yerousaghem
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for http://Epostle.net
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Resurrection and Beginnings

Holy Week Day #9 – Easter Sunday! – You made it through to the end, only to find it’s the beginning. The angels direct us to look at Life and we do – to find it Resurrected! Final directions for the Lenten Journey.
Music: “Govya Yerousghem” by Vazkenian Seminarians at Lake Sevan; Speghani Children’s choir; “Birdsong Medly” by Armen Chakmakian; “About God” by Gor Mkhitarian. Cover: “Rise!” by Gregory Beylerian for In His Shoes Ministry. (available in the Epostle Shop)
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for ePostle.net

Mt Davidson Time Capsule Unearthed

Time Capsule Unearthed at San Francisco’s 
Mt. Davidson Cross Commemorating First
 Easter Sunrise Service in 1923 Reveal of 90 year-old time capsule items and burial of new time capsule; 
Religious and political leaders joined for historic event

On Saturday, April 1st, 2023, a time capsule was unearthed from the foot of Mt. Davidson Cross in San Francisco in front of a large crowd of onlookers.  Ninety years ago to the day, San Francisco officials and community members gathered at the top of Mt. Davidson Cross to witness Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 bury a sealed copper box at the foot of the Cross to commemorate the first Easter Sunrise Service held there on April 1st, 1923.

“Historic moments like these held at Mt. Davidson Cross illustrates how our Armenian-American communities can enrich and inspire society by bringing people together under the ancient canopy of our resilience and hope,” commented Fr. Mesrop Ash, Pastor of St. John’s Armenian Apostolic Church in San Francisco and Board Member of the Mt. Davidson Cross Armenian Council.

During the time capsule unearthing, representatives from the San Francisco Historical Society were present to delicately receive the items which will be prepared for archiving and placed on display for the public to view at their San Francisco museum in June.

Among the items found in the capsule– which were much more plentiful than the organizers were expecting– were a leather-bound Bible, a San Francisco telephone book, pamphlets, a Boy Scout pin, a municipal record of 1933 and several newspapers including the March 27, 2932, edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, featuring a full front-page photo collage of an Easter celebration, and several other newspapers from the time, many with headlines referencing a murder case.

Following the unearthing of the old time capsule, a new, larger copper time capsule was buried at the same spot. Memorable items were presented by various local clergy leaders including Archbishop Salvadore Cordieone, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco and Metropolitan Gerasimos, Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco.

In front of the crowd, Archbishop Cordieone read a poignant quote from Pope Francis in 2015 during his visit to Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Armenia and placed a copy of that inside the new capsule.

On behalf of the Armenian American community, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese, placed a New Testament Bible from Constantinople (Istanbul) from 1884 belonging to a Genocide survivor and an Armenian Cross Stone (Khachkar) made especially for this event into the new time capsule.

Aside from the clergy, it was an honor to have many state and city politicians in attendance for this historic event. CA Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, as well as San Francisco Supervisors Myrna Melgar and Ahsha Safai all provided brief remarks and ceremonially added their own small San Francisco-related momento into the new time capsule.

The historic event was organized by the the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California (CAAONC), a coalition of more than 30 Armenian-American organizations that purchased the Mt. Davidson Cross through a City of San Francisco public auction in 1997. The CAAONC has renovated the Cross and maintains it and the hilltop as an offer of thanks to San Francisco for becoming a safe haven for survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

“The San Francisco Armenian American community was gratified to save the Cross from demotion in 1997 and serve as its caretaker for the past 25 years in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide committed by the Turkish government, remarked Roxanne Makasdjian, Founding Board Member of CAAONC and event Mistress of Ceremonies.

“We do this as a way of thanking San Francisco for taking in the Armenian refugees a century ago, and as a way to honor our history, both as the first nation to adopt Christianity in 301 AD, and as descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. For us, this Cross and this time capsule embody the importance and purpose of remembrance,” commented Makasdjian.

Watch the Video

Listen to The Next Step Podcast #390 by Fr Vazken Movsesian, produced on November 16, 2015, starting minute 33, when Fr Vazken recaps a Pilgrimage by a group of  St Peter Armenian Church members, Glendale, led by him. The Pilgrimage was to 7 Churches in 3 days, including a hike to Mt Davidson Cross.

Listen to the Podcast

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian’s Remarks at the Mount Davidson Cross

Watch the live stream here:

Lenten Sundays Series 1 of 8

Poon Paregentan



Next Step with Fr. Vazken #724: Books you can’t read, words that don’t exist and stories you can’t tell, all in this post-Easter, pre-GenComm episode. We’ll spell out the answer: Archimedes and Leveraging Love. Also: Missing pages from the William Saroyan play-book.
Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago
Coachella Festival
Prison Library Project
Leveraging Love
Archimedes and Levers
Folk Dances of Abaran
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Footprints at Calvary

Next Step with Fr. Vazken #723: Finding the missing step and the next step at the foot of the Cross and at the Empty Tomb. A look at some of the traditions that cheapen spiritual discovery. The amended Creed: passing blame and guilt for the Crucifixion? A special Easter reflection and edition of the Next Step.
St. Basil Liturgical Texts
Cheap Grace
Divine Liturgy CD
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Evolving to Apostolic

Next Step #671: When Protestants discover the apostolic notion of the community, from the me to the we. The “bear” and the priest: an explanation. Space/Time, apologetics and the changes of demanding answers. Thomas’ doubt, natural experience. The centricities of ethno, geo and helio. Ken update #1.
Armodoxy YouTube Channel
Was the Early Church a Cult? Sermon by Mike Kim
WD168 this week
St. Thomas, Denis DeBlasio Flute Contemporary Virtuosos
Cover: Water at the Grotto, Oregon, 2017 Fr. Vazken
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Easter Respect and Living

Next Step #670: After Easter, how the message “Christ has risen” moves from idea and story to inspire us to action. Primal Scream: Where is my mother? The sacrifice of the grain. Crucifixion: if not for Christ’s sake, then for who? Ken Nalik tribute (NS 2008-2021) Vazgenian Seminarians at Lake Sevan.
Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson
Smoking Cessation through time
WD168 this week
Luys Vocal Quintet
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Seven Knots Strong

Next Step #669: Holy Thursday, with the intertwining of the narrative with the poetic, the Passion of Christ is presented in new forms. The seven knots, the string and the story. Human contact returns during the feet washing service (John 13) after a year of lock down: Moving from 2D to 3D church. Recorded in between liturgies and services.
Holy Thursday Feet Washing & Order of Darkness 2021
Fr. Vazken’s Palm Sunday Sermon
Darkness Sermon (PrePandemic)
Good Friday Sermon (2019)
This week’s WD168
The Tradition of the 7 knots by V. Rev. Fr. Barouyr Shernezian
Easter Hallelujah by Cassandra Star Armstrong and sister Callahan
Engineered by Ken Nalik
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
Look for The Next Step on blubrry.com
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