Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

October 17, 2005


Bishop Vicken Aykazian, legate and ecumenical officer of the Diocese of
the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), recently attended a meeting of
U.S. religious leaders to map out goals and objectives for an upcoming
global ecumenical gathering.

The Diocesan legate is one of 13 people appointed by the Mother See of
Holy Etchmiadzin to represent the Armenian Church at the upcoming 9th
assembly of the World Council of Churches in Brazil this February.

In preparation for that meeting, Bishop Aykazian met with more than 150
American religious leaders in Chicago, IL, from October 10 to 12. The
leaders represented a majority of the member churches of the National
Council of Churches (NCC).

"At the meeting we discussed how we should represent the American-based
churches at the World Council of Churches assembly," said Bishop
Aykazian, who is active in a variety of ecumenical organizations on
behalf of the Eastern Diocese. "We asked, what will our contribution be
and what will be the lessons to be learned from this assembly?"

Bishop Aykazian identified several subjects that interested the gathered
religious leaders in Chicago: problems in the Middle East; combating HIV
in Africa; fighting Islamist terrorism; and the genocide in Sudan. The
last point is something the Armenian Church has been involved with for a

"These are all problems that concern human beings, so we have certain
responsibilities to help. It is the mission of the church to help the
powerless, the poor, the afflicted, the diseased, the sick, the
homeless. It is the main mission of the church," he said. "And in the
Sudan they have suffered tragic genocide. We know there is a genocide
taking place and it is a continuing genocide and we have to help. But
our church, we as a people, understand more than anyone, because we have
suffered through a genocide."

At the end of the conference in Chicago, Bishop Aykazian led a prayer
service with a priest from the Orthodox Church of America, an act that
shows the importance the ecumenical movement places on the participation
of Orthodox churches -- the Armenian Church in particular.

"I'm very pleased that, thanks to the work of Bishop Vicken, the
Armenian Church has become a leading voice in the ecumenical movement in
the United States and around the globe," said Archbishop Khajag
Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese.

-- 10/17/05

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