The Year the Armenian Church Died 1915-1990, Vol. 1, No. 3

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WINDOW_1.3
view of the Armenian Church

Summer 1990         Volume I, Number 3

ELECTRONIC VERSION

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THE YEAR

THE ARMENIAN CHURCH

D I E D

1915-1990

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©1990 The Armenian Church Research and Analysis Group
(The Group)

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Dn Hratch Tchilingirian
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Contents:

-Editorial
-How Shall we Remember by Vigen Guroian
-Teotig: Golgotha of the Armenian Clergy
-Fallen Grains of Wheat by Fr. Vazken Movsesian
-Charts and Graphs (unavailable in electronic version)
-Are We Ready? Canonization of the Victims by Dn. Hratch
Tchilingirian
-Armenian Church Treasurers: Proven Profit Potential
-Transitions
-Letters

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GENOCIDE!  It is a word that haunts every Armenian.  It is a word
that evokes disturbing  nightmares, anguish, hatred and the
reality of unserved justice.  At every commemoration, we enumerate
the unspeakable horrors of 1915 and renew our vows to
immortalize the lost lives of 1.5  Million Armenians.  Yet seldom
do we speak about the loss and destruction of the Armenian Church
and Her devoted servants, the clergy, who did not give up their
role as the true shepherds of Christ until the last
drop of blood seeped from their bodies.

It is to their eternal and blessed memory that we dedicate this
issue of Window.   With this issue, we turn our views back 75
years and take a glimpse of the pre-Genocide Armenian Church.
For the first time in the English language, we present the
monumental work of Teotig, a scribe who tediously recorded the
lives and the martyrdom of the Armenian clergy.  In admiration and
awe of the courageous lives of these clergy, the A. C. R. A. GROUP
research team, headed by Fr. Vazken Movsesian, has
been compiling a data base of information on the Armenian Church
during the Genocide.   Excerpts from this research are presented
in this issue with statistical and analytical charts.   Fr. Vazken
Movsesian renders further insight and reflection on
the work of Teotig and its significance to us.  On the other hand,
Vigen Guroian
addresses the issue of remembrance in the context of contemporary
Armenian reality, and presents a more meaningful and renewed
understanding of Armenian martyrdom.  Finally, Deacon Hratch
Tchilingirian discusses the problem of canonization of the
victims and provides an analysis of its implications.

With this issue, we open our Window to see the lives of the true
saints and heros of the Armenian Church.  Their legacy to us is
the challenge to emulate their sacrificial example.
“May the eternal memory of the just be blessed.”

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“_ the Armenian Church is a national church in  that  it is Her
duty to save Armenian souls.   The Armenian Church has only one
main purpose, that is to deal with souls. . .the salvation of
Armenian souls.  When the Armenian Church is successful
in saving the individual souls of Armenians, then the result would
be nothing but to have Armenians who would possess the Armenian
spirit, Armenians who would have interest in Armenian culture,
language and art, individuals who would have the
enthusiasm to appreciate all loveliness. Each in his own way, each
according to his cup and mold by drinking from the same fountain
of the soul.  Even those who do not have ‘religious interest’
should readily bow before the purpose and work that the
Armenian Church performs and should perform as a spiritual
institution.

“The impact of the Genocide that our people sustained has wounded
the Armenian soul in different aspects of its existence,  it has
fractured the physical and spiritual reality of the Armenian
nation and her spiritual culture.

“Executioner Talat Pasha considered the Armenian clergy to be the
most dangerous element.  He ordered his subordinates to use the
most severe measures to exterminate the clergy.  In a secret order
sent to the governor of Aleppo, he writes, ‘It
should be noted that first of all the clergy should be
exterminated, we have received information that individual priests
have been sent to precarious places, like Syria and Jerusalem.
This kind of dispensations are considered unforgivable
infringement of orders.  To them exile should mean complete
extermination.  I advise you to execute according to this order.'”
–Archbishop Torkom Manoogian (Patriarch of Jerusalem)
The Loss of the Armenian Church During the Genocide (Armenian),
New York 1972

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HOW SHALL WE REMEMBER
by Vigen Guroian

Some fifteen years ago, I began collecting oral histories of
survivors of the Armenian Genocide.  Among those whose stories I
heard were members of the Richmond, Virginia Armenian community,
where my wife
June and I lived at the time.   One of these was a lady, born in
Zeitun in south central Turkey.  When she was a small child her
family moved to nearby Marash where in the Spring of 1915 the
deportations began.  Her father already had been
conscripted into the Turkish military never again seen by his
family, presumably a victim of the Turkish policy of conscripting
Armenian males into the military and executing them.  She and her
remaining family were marched that year across Turkey
into the Syrian desert, a march which in her memory lasted
forever.  During  the journey, this young girl of seven witnessed
the deaths of some seventy relatives.  Only she and her mother
survived.
At the close of our final meeting together, I asked her how she
could believe in God in view of her great personal loss and
tragedy.  At first she demurred.  She said that she was not a
priest or a theologian.  I insisted, surely she had thought
about this matter. “Yes,” she said, she had. Some of the men and
women of her generation had succumb to bitterness and resentment,
even anger against God. They would accuse God, “Why did God do
this to us?” She, however, had not grown bitter.  There
were, of course, moments of doubt and questioning even at this
time in her life.  But her memories would return to her
grandfather, a man of exceptional faith.  For often during those
terrible, violent days of the march, when she was tired and her
small feet ached and she was thirsty and hungry  and wanted to
stop but did not for fear of the soldiers whip, she would ask her
grandfather, “‘Grandpa, where are we going?’  he would answer, ‘We
are going to Jerusalem.’  I began to hate Jerusalem.
I would say, ‘I don’t like Jerusalem.  I want to go home,’ and
there would be tears in his eyes.  He was weeping.  But I did not
know why.   Only now I understand.”
This
patriarch of her family died in Syria.  However, before his death
he left his family with one command and one final request.  The
command was, “Even if they should put a knife to your neck, do not
deny your faith.  Death lasts only one moment.
Renouncing your faith means giving up an eternity of joy with
God.”  His final request was that he be given a Christian burial.
And so he was.  Whereas the others whom the little girl saw die
were carried away by oxen cart to unmarked mass graves,
he was buried by his daughter-in-law.  He had asked that at his
burial a passage from II Timothy be read.  The lady could not
recall the identity of the passage.  But I doubt not that it was
II Timothy 4:6-8.  “As for me, already my life is being
poured out on the altar, and the hour for my departure is upon me.
I have run the great race, I have finished the course, I have
kept faith.  And now the prize awaits me, the great garland
(crown) of righteousness, which the Lord, the all-just
judge, will award me on that great Day; and it is not for me
alone, but for all who have set their hearts on his coming
appearance” (NEB).  Finally, she said, “As I remember my
grandfather, I also remember Jesus when he was crucified.”
“This,” she
said, “is what gives me hope and sustains me.  And I believe in
the resurrection and that we will live even after this death on
Earth . . . Maybe God means the Armenians to be an example for the
world.”
How shall we remember?  I believe that the answer to that
question was given to me some 15 years ago when I questioned this
lady.  Yet even before Armenians ask themselves the question: How
shall we remember? there is posited already the imperative
to
remember.  A wise man once said, “Memory is the secret of
redemption.” And so it certainly must be for Armenians.  To
paraphrase a famous passage from Armenian literature: We remember
in order to live.  Death not comprehended is mortality; death
perceived is immortality.
There is then a moral and political significance to our
remembering. If Armenians forget the deaths of a million and one
half and in doing so allow the world to forget also, they surely
will have issued a warrant for future Talaat Pashas, Stalins,
Adolph Hitlers, Idi Amins, or Pol Pots to carry out their
murderous schemes against people with whose skin color, religion,
ethnic origin or political persuasion they find fault.  This
remembrance and struggle must never be selfish. Such remembrance
and struggle must be done in the spirit of love and sacrifice as
an offering of self in solidarity with all suffering people on
this strife torn and agonized planet.
Centuries ago Rabbi Hillel wrote: “If I am not for myself who
will be, but if I am only for myself what am I?”  Allow me to add
to Rabbi Hillel’s words:  “If a people who have suffered murder at
the hands of an evil government do not defend the
inviolability of their own national spirit and culture, what are
they, but if they do not voice that truth in defense of other
peoples who have suffered a similar injustice how can they be
taken seriously?   Armenians ought to be at the front lines
of the human rights struggle world-wide.  If they were, their own
plea in behalf of themselves would be far more persuasive.
I am deeply troubled, however, by the obsessive and narrow use to
which the Genocide has been put in order to reassert Armenian
identity and fortify Armenian nationalism–just as some Jews have
used the Holocaust to reassert Jewish identity and
deflect criticisms of the state of Israel.   We speak of martyrs.
Yet more often than not we mean victims; and we plead to the world
that we are the true innocents.  This is a dangerous state of
mind, one to which, sadly, the Armenian Church also,
has willing contributed.  Having thrown itself into the struggle
for justice, the Church has neglected its primary responsibility
for healing the afflicted nation.  It has lacked the courage to
faithfully tell the Gospel story and cast the suffering
of the Armenian people in the context of the story of the only One
who was truly innocent and yet was unjustly nailed to a cross.
That crime was not rectified but, nevertheless, opened the way to
salvation.

Every April 24th, Armenians in all places mark a day of
remembrance for those who died as victims and as martyrs of the
Armenian Genocide. On that day, year after year, the Armenian
Church has joined in the demand for justice.  Yet even those most
sympathetic to our cause outside of the Armenian community have
advised us that while justice is important there is no guarantee
it will come;  nor may it be what is most needed.  As Professor
Roger W. Smith of the College of William and Mary has
written: “The emphasis must be on truth and healing” even more
than justice.
Frankly, the world may choose to forget what happened to the
Armenian people seventy-five years ago.  It is even possible our
children will choose to forget the Genocide if all such
remembering brings is the world’s denial and the burden of being
victims; and all that it unleashes is the gut ripping tiger anger.
Such remembering
must serve a greater end than the demand for an earthly justice, a
justice the world may or may not grant us.  It is that purpose
about which I have chosen to address.  And this requires talking
about Christian faith.  For something devastating
happened to Armenian Christianity in the Genocide.  For many faith
became impossible.  For others the habit persisted but not the
conviction.  Yet how little we have heard about this–except the
anguished cries of our poets.  “Let us swear,” wrote
Yeghish# Charents, “that when we find/God in paradise offering
comfort/to make amends for our pain,/let us swear that we will
refuse/saying No, send us to hell again./ We choose hell.  You
made us know it well./Keep your paradise for the Turk.”
Thus, even beyond the moral and political significance of the
Genocide, there is a profound religious dimension to it–one which
needs to be addressed.
Allow me to begin by telling a story of the Armenian writer
Teotig who collected accounts of the clergy and their martyrdom
during the great catastrophe.  One day in 1915, as in so many
Armenian towns and villages, the 800 families of Kourd Belen
(Turkish, meaning Wolf’s Hill) near Izmir (ancient Nicomedia) were
given orders to evacuate their homes and form a caravan of
deportation.  The pastor of the village was an eighty-five year
old priest, Fr. Khoren Hampartsoomian, who for all his
years as a priest had served the people of Kourd Belen.  Fr.
Hampartsoomian was instructed to lead his people out of the
village.  As the procession of bewildered, frightened and
disoriented Armenians left the outskirts of the village, nearby
Turks
came out to view the exiles, and taunted the priest, calling to
him, “Good luck old man. Who are you going to bury today?”  The
old man replied: “Yes.  God is dead, we are rushing to his
funeral.”
There is such a thing as a righteous anger with God.  Job is the
greatest scriptural example of such anger.  Also, despair, even a
sense of desolation, is sometimes a moment in the movement of
faith. We cannot know for certain the feelings which
welled up within the heart of Khoren Hampartsoomian on that
terrible day in 1915; whether it was anger or despair or both
which made him call out: “This time we are going to the funeral of
God.”  Could the old man’s feelings have been like those of
Jesus who on the cross exclaimed in his agony, “My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46 RSV).
Perhaps at that moment Khoren Hampartsoomian experienced the near
destruction of the soul–that ultimate desolation–which became
also the experience of the Armenian people.  It would be an
untruthful remembrance of what happened to the Armenian
people in those fateful years not to acknowledge the near total
physical and spiritual destruction which they endured.  But such
despair and desolation are not experiences which Armenians are
called upon to perpetuate.  Indeed the persistence of
such despair and desolation in persons or in an entire people is
not a virtue but a deadly vice.  Neither should Armenians
perpetuate anger at God.  For
certainly  God cannot be blamed for what men have wrought.  But,
some will inject, “God should have intervened.”  And this at what
cost?  Would we have God withdraw from us that freedom which he
built into our very nature, which is itself the very
dignity that we share with our Creator as beings made in his own
image?  Would we have God release us from responsibility for our
own actions?  Indeed the Turk, not God, is responsible for the
horror of human carnage which seventy-five years ago
flooded the earth with the blood of his slain brothers and
sisters.

A Jewish theologian of the Holocaust has written: “God suffers not
on account of what man does to him.  What could man do to God?  He
suffers because of what man does to himself and his brother.”  I
believe that for every one of the million and one
half men, women and children whose lives and deaths Armenians
commemorate on April 24th, the Son bled upon the heavenly altar
and the Father himself wept for every victim as well as every
victimizer.  God was there among the tortured, molested,
starved and butchered.  He who became flesh, lived among the
powerless and suffered an ignoble death on the cross, was also
present in the burning churches, on the winding death marches
through mountain and valley, in the bloodied waters of the
ancient Euphrates and the desert ovens of Der El Zor.  It was his
body which was ravaged by hunger, lacerated by the horseman’s
whip, pierced by the gendarme’s bayonet, broken by mountain climb,
devoured by vulture and wild beast, torn from mother’s
breast, dashed against rock and stone, thrown in flesh chocked
rivers, swollen and cooked in desert heat, and buried in mass of
earth and human wreckage.
God in Christ has made his tabernacle among us.  He has suffered
the weaknesses of our flesh and taken up in his dying our protest
against death.  I have said already that the issue is not one,
finally, of justice or injustice.  Rather it is how we
who confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, can make of our suffering
and dying a righteous witness to his promises of eternal life.  If
we are truly followers and imitators of Jesus Christ then we are
as the grandfather said to the little girl all
sojourners on our way to Jerusalem.  Sometimes our lack of faith
has led us to protest, even to hate Jerusalem and the King under
whose discipline we placed ourselves when in the baptismal waters
we confessed before many witnesses our willingness to
“fight the good fight of the faith; [and] take hold of the eternal
life to which we are called” (I Timothy 6:12 RSV).  The Lord of
resurrection and life invites human beings to freely follow Him,
but the path they must take once they have decided to
do so is one tread already by Him up the rock of Golgotha with the
awful weight of the cross upon His back and the agony of the
crucifixion before Him.  For Christ the glory of Palm Sunday was
followed by the humiliation of that Friday which we who
follow Him dare call good because we in faith have the hope for
life eternal, He having trampled down for us Death by death. Is
it, therefore, so incomprehensible that the glory of Christian
Armenia should in time have been revealed as the prelude
to the Golgotha of 1915?  Armenians had more than intimations of
this throughout their history: the early persecutions under
foreign domination, the devastation of the Memluk invaders, the
slave yoke of Ottoman rule.
“Maybe,” the lady said, “God means for Armenians to be an example
to the Earth.”  Having endured the death of their physical body,
the loss of the earthly homeland, and been dispersed throughout
the world as sojourners in strange lands,  one would
have hoped that Armenians could have recaptured their biblical
minds, for Armenians are a biblical people.  Were they to regain
their biblical vision, Armenians could recognize and therefore
rededicate themselves to that Christian witness and
discipleship which their forbearers so willingly took up and for
which so many of them gave up their lives.  How shall Armenians
remember?  By remembering God first who called Abraham to “go out
to a country which God had promised to give him.  He
left his
own country without knowledge of where he was going.  By faith he
lived as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him.
For Abraham was waiting for the city which God had designed and
built, the city with permanent foundations” (Hebrews
11:8-10 TEV).  I am not one who spurns the deep desire of many, I
think most Armenians, for a restored homeland.  I bring up this
subject because in remembering the martyrs of the Armenocide,
Armenians must not make the terrible error of reducing,
indeed trivializing, their martyrdom to merely a sacrifice for
nationhood, culture or any other human creation one calls
Armenian.   For “Behold,” exclaimed the prophet Isaiah, “the
nations are like a drop from a bucket,/and are accounted as the
dust on the scales;_/All the nations are as nothing before
him,/they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness”
(Isaiah 40:15-17 RSV).
How shall Armenians remember the martyrs?  May they be remembered
as among those faithful whom the author of the Epistle to the
Hebrews recalled.
“It was in faith that all these persons died.  They did not
receive the things God promised, but from a long way off they saw
and welcomed them, and admitted openly that they were foreigners
and refugees on earth.  Those who say such things
make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own.
They did not keep thinking about the country they had left; if
they had, they would have had the chance to return.  Instead, it
was a better country they longed for, the heavenly
country.  And so God is not ashamed to have them call Him their
God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16 TEV).
We have a responsibility to the martyrs.  Before all else we must
perpetuate the faith for which they died.  If our faith should
expire then the martyrs’ example and the hope which Armenians
rightly discern in their deaths is lost to those living
and all those who follow in the future.  For whatever meaning
their deaths have is located in that faith in the Crucified and
Resurrected One of whom they themselves testified through their
very dying.  That is what martyrdom means after all.  It
means to witness.  “Some were mocked and whipped, and others were
tied up and put in prison.  They were stoned, they were sawed in
two, they were killed with the sword.  They went around clothed in
skins of sheep or goats, poor, persecuted and
mistreated. The world was not good enough for them!  They wandered
like refugees in the deserts and hills, living in caves and holes
in the ground” (Hebrews 11:36-38 TEV).  The world has not changed
very much in two thousand years.  These words were
written by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in
recollection of the witness born to God’s redemption by the
patriarches, prophets and the faithful throughout history until
the coming of Christ.  But he goes on to exclaim, “What a record
all
these men have won by their faith!  Yet they did not receive what
God had promised, because God had decided on an ever better plan
for us. His purpose was that only in company with us would they be
made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40 TEV).
Here is the meaning and the purpose of the commemoration of the
deaths of the million and one half, not to praise man but to
praise God and strive with renewed conviction to be followers of
Him in whom the martyrs and all the faithful who have
journeyed before us–indeed in whom all of creation–rejoice.
“His purpose was that only in company with us would they be made
perfect,”  wrote the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews.  These
ought to be sobering words.  This is the seriousness of God’s
calling. This is the magnitude of an enduring reason
for our remembering. Armenians must perpetually call up the memory
of these martyrs before God, making the martyrs’ sacrifice their
own, joining them before the throne of God, heirs together of
God’s eternal Kingdom.  For, as the same author
continues, “[We] have this large crowd of witnesses around us.  So
then, let us, therefore rid ourse
lves of everything that gets in the way, and the sin which holds
to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that
lies before us.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our
faith depends from beginning to end.  He did not
give up His cross!  On the contrary, because of the joy awaiting
Him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and
is now seated at the right side of God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:1-2
TEV).
“Maybe,” said the lady, “God means for us . . . to have a special
purpose.”  We have hardly begun to discern that purpose.  The
immediate concern of Armenians after the Ottoman Turk struck his
awful blow at them was to find a way to survive, to
nurture the orphaned nation in all the strange new lands into
which its members had been exiled.  Then in 1965 with the
commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Genocide, a new
consciousness began to emerge. Armenians found the will and the
way to voice the anger, the outrage and the pain of what had
happened to them, to their parents and grandparents.  This served
its purpose.  In its best light this activity raised the
consciousness of Armenians to the significance of the Genocide
for them and for other people.  It was the first Genocide of this
century, the awful predecessor of the Holocaust and all  the human
slaughter and state inflicted mass murder which is the mark of
this century.  These lessons served as the foundation
upon which the seventieth and seventy-fifth commemorations were
built.  But such remembrance has also given rise to a habitual
harping and lamentation, to a destructive self pity, guilt and
defensiveness and an uncontrollable rage.  Armenians have
been frustrated, at times frenzied and in all too many instances
unable to make creative use of their experiences.
Beyond the often rehearsed secular and political significance and
uses of the Armenian experience, there is a spiritual service
Armenians can render.  I have not intended to diminish the
importance and nobility of those secular and political causes
served by the remembrance of the Armenocide.  For some such
remembrance has meant waging the argument for restoration of the
Armenian historic land and independent nationhood; for others it
has been the occasion for pressuring Turkey to admit
finally that indeed a genocide was perpetrated and Ottoman Turkey
was responsible; for others it has meant the opportunity to add
the voice of Armenians to the universal plea for human rights and
the prevention of genocide.  I have been a
participant in such causes.  I always have believed, however, that
the full measure of the meaning which the Genocide must obtain for
Armenians in order to translate the deaths of the one and one half
million into the fullness of life for themselves
and for their posterity is not comprehended in any one or even all
of these causes.
Beyond these causes is the necessary condition that Armenians
witness to the faith which makes the martyrs alive with God.
There is no meaning in the senseless slaughter of a million and
one half people aside from the certain knowledge that Jesus Christ
by his own death and resurrection has conquered death and all its
forces in this world.  History, particularly as it
bears the mark of fratricide, provides no meaning for itself.  It
stands in need of the redemption which is in Jesus Christ.  Christ
is risen and so are the Armenian martyrs.  Yet like the disciples
who, when first confronted with the awful truth of
the crucifixion of their Lord and by his presence in His spiritual
body did not recognize him, Armenians have been incapable of
recognizing that the resurrected life is theirs.   Why do I say
this?  Because if Armenians had recognized this the
churches would be full.  Armenians in the diaspora would not have
let go of a whole generation of their own, my generation and now
its children, who are so conspicuously absent from the pews of all
the parishes in America whether those of the
Diocesan or the Prelacy.  The true lasting service to all the
victims and martyrs of 1915 will be when Armenians rededicate
themselves to the evangelization of all those whom they have left
stray and build up the Body of Christ with the same earnest
exhilaration of the first disciples and saints of the Church.  In
such service God surely will reveal His purpose, replacing the
pain of remembrance with the joy of his presence.

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TEOTIG: GOLGOTHA OF THE ARMENIAN CLERGY

By 1921, only six years after the Genocide, a scribe using the
pen name “Teotig” had compiled a volume of Armenian Church
casualties entitled, Golgotha of the Armenian Clergy.   Chronicled
in this book are the perils of the Armenian Church during
the 1915 Genocide.  For the first time, the 412 page work written
in Armenian has been transcribed into English and set as a data
base by the A.C.R.A. Group research team.
The book introduces the reader to 1252 clergymen specifically,
with brief biographical information and descriptions of the
atrocities imposed upon these clerics.  This volume by no means is
an exhaustive list of losses suffered by the Armenian
Church in 1915.   Teotig assures the reader that some lists are
fragmented and certain towns and villages had no remaining
survivors from whom information could be gathered.  For instance,
in the town of Hiusenig, (near Kharbert) all the priests
were murdered along with the townspeople.  Clergy records did not
survive.   The same is true of the village of Khoylou as well as
other localities.  Nevertheless, Teotig’s work presents a strong
base and by all means is a monumental effort.  It
allows us to take a glimpse at the pre-Genocide Armenian Church
and to understand the magnitude of the damage to the Church, to
Her people and the spiritual decay which has ensued in the Ar-
menian Church community  over the past 75 years.

Golgotha of the Armenian Clergy is full of horror stories page
after page, all tied together by a common thread of suffering and
martyrdom. Teotig interviewed and compiled data from a variety of
sources, many
were first hand witnesses and clergy who escaped the atrocities
one way or another.  To understand the scope of his work, he
confesses that the massacres were so precisely orchestrated that
often villagers did not know of the destruction in a
neighboring village a mile away. Yet he was able to compile and
document the witness of 1252 of these clergy and their flocks.
The register includes among the most notable victims, Gomidas
Vartabed Soghomonian to the most seemingly obscure, such as Krikor
Kahana Zartarian, a priest of Sepastia whose finger nails were
pulled, horse shoes nailed to his feet and then his skin
was butchered off his body, because of his refusal to deny his
faith.
It is more than evident that the Armenian Church suffered
immensely in numbers alone.  Seventy five years after the fact, we
still have a long road toward recovery. The Armenian population
has steadily increased but the number of clergy to meet the
ever growing needs of the people has not.
Pages 12& 13 (pages do not apply to electronic version) contain a
small sample of our findings with analysis.  During the Fall of
1990 the A.C.R.A.G. will publish the Teotig data base.   This
marks a significant contribution toward the study of the
Armenian Genocide. Copies of the publication may be ordered
through the Group offices.     –VKM

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FALLEN GRAINS OF WHEAT
by Fr. Vazken Movsesian

The word “martyr” conjures many images in our minds.  Most of
those images have little, if any, relevance for life today.
Martyrdom is an abstract idea for most.  Every April 24, Armenians
are reintroduced to the word.  A martyr, we are told, is
one who voluntarily opts for death rather than deny his faith.
Like a clich#, the definition rolls off our tongues with ease as
we ascribe it to the 1.5 million Armenians of the 1915 Genocide.
Like all Armenians, I had heard the word used.  I had heard the
stories of family and friends.  I had read the books.  I had even
given my share of “Martyrs’ Day” speeches,
but “martyr” never had more meaning than after reading Teotig’s
Golgotha of the Armenian Clergy. It was no longer an abstract
term.  Furthermore, I found the Armenian Church of 1915 in a
paradoxical situation.  Superficially, what appeared to be a
church on the verge of death, was in fact the Armenian Church
living it’s most vibrant days of Christian witness.

BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Now that Teotig’s material has been transcribed and processed,
the data can be evaluated in many ways.  In mere numbers alone, it
is evident that the Armenian Church suffered immensely.  Seventy
five years after the fact, we still have a long road
toward recovery. Teotig’s work, however, presents much more than
numbers.  My intention here is not to analyze the data rather it
is to reflect on the actions of these clergy and the implications
of those actions for us.  The documentation of the
massacres gives us real life stories — examples
— of clergymen, from whom we, as clergy and faithful of the
Church 75 years removed from the tragedy, have much to learn.
Although a few of the clergy of 1915 denied their faith, the
overwhelming majority did not compromise themselves as
Christians and became worthy of the title “martyr.”  These clerics
lead the Armenian people through that same road of martyrdom.
Today, in retrospect, we have some serious questions to ask
ourselves regarding the value of that decision and action.
But first let us look at the pre-Genocide Church, which obviously
was a more viable institution than the Armenian Church today, by
virtue of more clergy, greater and closer contact with the people,
Her ability to operate within hostile circumstances
and most importantly, by the fact that Her followers did not
abandon Her in these trying times.
What was the drawing power of the pre-Genocide Church?  Why were
Armenians determined not to compromise their faith, the Faith of
the Orthodox Church?  In the village of Kuvner, Bitlis, for
example, the 400 Armenian families out of fear of
persecution practiced their “worship” — not private prayer, but
organized worship — in their homes.
How did the Church move men such that they refused worldly
pursuits and survival, opting for the Cross instead?  For example,
Daniel Der Stephanian, a young revolutionary, immigrated to the
United States in 1909 but returned to Gudoutz’s St.
Garabed monastery, was ordained as Fr. Stephan and as a priest
lead his suffering people.  Or, Fr. Vartan Hagopian (Moush,
Bitlis), who upon noticing that the Kurdish-speaking Armenians of
Slivan (Dikranagerd) were without a pastor and on the verge
of religious conversion notified the Patriarch and was assigned to
the region.  Fr. Vartan was martyred with his flock after
returning them to the fold of the Mother Church.
What kept the clergymen loyal to the Church despite the hardships
and humiliation they had to bear because of their association?  In
Sepastia, from the prelate down to the parish priest, clerics
could not walk the streets without ridicule from the
Turks.  As an everyday ritual the Turks would curse and blaspheme
the Armenian’s cross and faith. In Bourhan, when the village
executioner finished torturing Fr. Khoren Hambartzoumian with
unthinkable methods, as an ultimate indignation, he placed a
dog in Fr. Khoren’s lap and demanded that the good priest baptize
the mutt.  Fr. Khoren was butchered.
What was the redeeming value of the Faith that these priests would
demand from their parishioners loyalty until the end?  Fr. Ashod
Avedian, (Erzeroum) was among 4000 men separated from the women in
the village of Tzitogh and shackled together.  He
counselled the men to be brave in the face of death, having them
pray in unison, “Lord, have mercy.”  And in the only sacramental
gesture possible, he had the men take the “cursed” soil and
swallow it as communion while confessing, “For all the sins
which I have committed, in thought_.”

Questions about the authority and influence of the Holy Church
continue to form within our minds as we read the multitude of
stories of the men who not only preached the Faith but lived and
died for it. The Church carried great weight in the lives
of the people in 1915 as underscored by their martyrdom.
Interestingly enough, the Church was not viewed as sanctuary, as
is common during times of crisis.  The Armenian Church of 1915 was
anything but a safe haven or refuge for
Her people.  As Teotig writes, “At that time the intolerance of
the three Islamic nations (the Turks, the Persian and the Kurds)
toward Christianity had reached its pinnacle.”   The Armenian
clergy were the symbols of Christianity that the Muslim
Turks were fanatically molesting.  To be associated with the
Armenian Church, let alone be a part of it, was the same as
signing one’s own execution orders.  We refer to the victims of
the Genocide as martyrs precisely for this reason: they
willingly opted for association with the Church — to be
identified as Christians — and were therefore denied existence.
Here lies the key to our questioning.  The martyrdom of the
people tells us that the Church in fact filled more than a social
need for them.  The pre-Genocide Armenian Church was exclusively a
house of God.  She was the Christian identity of the
people and not much else. Because Armenians lived within their
millet, Armenian community life was already defined.  The Church
did not have to take on the responsibility of perpetuating the
nation.  She had a tremendous influence within the lives
of the people, because the people understood it as God ordained.
Armenians did not understand, “In the world you have tribulation:
but courage!  I have overcome the world,” (Jn. 16:33) as a
statement made by a mere mortal but by the Living God.
Armenians took to heart the assurance, “Blessed are you when men
revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against
you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward
is great in heaven_” (Mt. 5:11-12) because it was
guaranteed by the Saviour of the World.
How else can we explain or understand martyrdom?  It is only in
these terms.  Given the option to live or die, who would chose
death, unless of course, the person had a doubtless belief that
the “Lord is my Shepherd_ even though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art
with me_” (Ps. 23:1,4).  Who would take the torture and
humiliation of the cross, unless one knew for certain that the
cross was not an end, but a means to the end. The Armenian
Christian martyr of 1915 firmly believed in the resurrection of
Christ and the guarantee of the same for his/herself.
The operative word in the definition of martyrdom is “willingly,”
which implies the victims had the option to do otherwise.  Some of
the sources for Teotig were in fact converts to Islam.  These were
the few that were able to escape and live to
tell the story.  Teotig refers to the conversion as acceptance of
the “severe order” (khisd hraman).  By way of explanation, he
inserts within parenthesis the word “Islamized.”  Though the
number of these converts was relatively miniscule, the fact
that some converted asserts that the option for conversion, and
therefore life was available.

THE TRUE LOSSES OF THE CHURCH

The 1915 Church in Turkey was well established by virtue of Her
existence within the Armenian communities for centuries.  The
Armenian Church in the diaspora has only a living history of
75-100 years.  The Church today is built upon the ruins of
1915.  The losses of the Armenian Church were far greater than the
decrease in the number of clergy.  The Church lost Her impact over
Armenians and lost Her place as a necessity among Her people.  Her
preoccupation with survival in the post-Genocide
years moved Her from the sacred realm to the
secular.  The objective of the Church was compromised by the
necessity to build.  The devastation of the Genocide was too great
upon Church leadership so there was no one “manning the ship.”
Meanwhile, we the post-genocide generations, found ourselves
rebuilding without the proper “floor plans.”  For us, the Church
was not only a religious organization but a means toward national
prese
rvation.  Without the necessary religious grounding, coupled with
societal norms which advocate no absolutes, God lost us to the
temptation of self-assurance.  If the Armenian Church was to be
rebuilt, it was because of our own efforts, we thought,
and not God’s will.  God was helpless.  After all, where was God
when we needed him most?  Surely He did not have the power to
rebuild our nation?  God lost His strength and most importantly
His healing power.  The Armenian nation had been severely
wounded and if anyone was going to heal us, it would be ourselves.
And so, our community and church shifted from God-centeredness to
self-centeredness.  Our heros changed.  We began singing the
praises of self-made industrialists who were now
financing, rebuilding and healing the Church.

ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACH-THANI?

Perhaps one of the most pondered questions by people is, why evil?
Many volumes on this subject line the shelves of theological and
philosophical libraries.  The question is simple: If God is good
and if God is omnipotent then why does evil exist?
Either God is not good or God is not all-powerful (e.g. He has no
dominion over evil).  The attempt at defending God’s goodness or
omnipotence in the face of evil is called a theodicy.
Armenians at the time of the Genocide as well as today continue
to ask this question.  The Genocide of 1915 and more recently the
earthquake of 1988 have both given us the necessary ammunition to
lash out against a seemingly weak god, who accepts
our loyalties throughout the centuries and abandons us in our time
of need.  Could God have not prevented the execution of Talaat’s
orders?  Could God have not prevented the extensive destruction of
the earthquake?
As a pastor I have been asked the same question from parishioners
who are confronted with a manifestation of evil in their lives.
Why cancer? Why divorce?  Why young death?  The deeper questions
begin to surface: Does God hear our prayers?  Is it
fate?  Is it our destiny? Ultimately, it is the Church that is on
trial. Why advocate a faith in a god who is seemingly powerless
against pain?  The answer is by no means an easy one.  In fact, as
Teotig’s documentation has shown, the Church has not
been spared Her share of evil.  Ironically, this may very well be
the beginnings of an Armenian Church theodicy.
The Church, as the Body of Christ was not rescued from evil, as
neither was the actual Body of Christ, the Son of the Omnipotent.
The crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Church’s
crucifixion. Theologian Hans Kung writes, “The crucified
Jesus is present in the Church as the risen Lord.  Christ does not
exist without the Church, the Church does not exist without
Christ.  Christ is for the Church not only an event in a
constantly receding past, nor only an event in the future,
whether near or distant.  _ The Church does not derive its life
only from the work which Christ did and finished in the past, nor
only from the expected future consummation of his work, but from
the living and efficacious presence of Christ in the present” (The
Church).
The crucifixion of our Lord is not to be understood as a one time
event, centered in first century Palestine.  During the Divine
Liturgy, we herald, “Christ is among us_ He who is God is here
seated.”  We are invited to commune with Christ who
is– not was –sacrificed and shared among us.  We are called to
share in His resurrection, as well as His passion and crucifixion.
At the Turkish “Golgotha,” the Body of Christ was nailed to the
Cross.  In that misery, the Armenian Church asked
the same question Jesus asked, “My God, My God, why hast Thou
forsaken me” (Mt. 27:46).  Today, we echo that appeal in our
personal lives as well on behalf of the Church, only to receive
the same seemingly silent answer.  That answer is only assumed
silent when our ears are not attuned to an existence beyond this
temporal one.  Among the disciples who were at the foot of the
Jesus’ cross, certainly some thought His teachings were in vain if
His loving Father was not willing to come to His
rescue.  But to those who trusted His teachings, their fear
diminished with the anticipation of resurrection.  We too are not
privy to the answer, unless first we are able to trust the living
words of Christ and be ready to stand in eternal vigil
for the resurrection.
God’s interaction with our world can not be confined to our
limited understanding of time and justice.  God does not prevent
evil.  This does not diminish the power of God nor His goodness.
It shifts the responsibility to us — to be convinced by
our faith and by the crucified and living Lord among us, that
God’s love is greater than our sense of justice.  St. Nersess
Shnorhali writes in the hymn of the Saturday matins, “Do not judge
us by justice, rather by Your mercy grant us expiation.”
Justice is grounded in our temporal existence, God’s mercy
transcends to the eternal.  The healing power of God, to fix our
wounds and abrasions is in His love not in our understanding of
justice.  If the resurrection of the Armenian people and
Church is dependent upon human strength alone, it is doomed to
fail as are all enterprises which are built upon limited
faculties.  The Church survives today because of human efforts.
She lives today because of Christ’s eternal presence.
The Armenian clergy at the turn of the century were martyred with
this understanding of Divine intervention.  It is foolish to say
they did not fear death; however, it is apparent from their
martyrdom that they did not understand death as the final
stop in a life running on hurt and pain. They believed and were
convinced in the resurrection of Christ.  The clergy of 1915 offer
an understanding of the Church prior to Her children’s physical
and spiritual breakdown.  At that time, the faith of
the Armenian Church was no different than the faith it expounds
today.  What has changed however, is our perception.  As workers
of the Church today we have a mission to revert back to this basic
understanding of the Church.  The Church does not
need healing, rather we do.  Healing — God’s healing — begins
when we accept the Armenian Church as the Body of Christ, where
our Lord lives in His Crucifixion and Resurrection.  Otherwise, we
are merely placing a bandage on our wounds.  It is
temporary, it is deceptive and will yield scare tissue.
In light of Teotig, martyrdom can no longer be an abstract idea.
Rather, it is part of our commission as sons and daughters of the
Armenian Church.  Thank God today the Armenian Christians in
America are not being forced at gun point to witness to their
faith.  Yet the pressure from worldly pursuits, the temptation to
deny good in the face of personal gain, and the defining of
the world as self-serving rather than God-serving all take their
tolls upon our faith.  These are the new weapons of evil.  Do we
question why God is not sparing us prosperity?  If that prosperity
has cost us our self-worth then is that not evil?
Would we ever lash out against God and ask, why He is not saving
us from material success?  If that success has been acquired at
the cost of the sanctity of family and the loss of principles, is
that not evil?
Evil will always be present.  It is part of a system built upon
human free will.  In the Garden of Eden it was the serpent, in
1915 it was the Turk, today it is the self, each demanding primary
loyalty. Martyrdom for us is a denial of the evil and
opting for life.  This is true in our personal life as well as
communal life.   It begins with the acceptance of an eternal life,
a life based on the will of God, a life which defines justice by
God’s love and mercy.
Throughout Teotig, we read of priests who dedicated their lives
to the service of the Church.  Yet, tragically, many of them did
not have graves nor a Church funeral.  To their memory, I wish to
present the Gospel passage from the funeral service.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains
alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  He who loves his life
loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for
eternal life” (Jn. 12:24-25). The pastors of
1915 dedicated t
heir lives to God’s Holy Church.  They denied the pleasures of
this life for the riches of eternal life. Like grains of wheat,
they fell and died.  The Faith, the Faith of the Armenian Church
is the fruit they bear.  As we pray to God for their
eternal rest, let us at the same time partake of this fruit.  This
in fact is our greatest tribute to their martyrdom and their
blessed memory.

*********************************************************************
*********************************************************************

A.C.R.A.G. DATA BASE
Listing by name over 1200 martyred clergy of 1915

Categorized by:
Name    Church    Region

Published by
The Armenian Church
Research and Analysis GROUP

Pre-publication price: $20.00
(Volume discounts available to churches and institutions.)

Send check payable to SRP to:
A.C.R.A. GROUP
P.O. Box 700664, San Jose, CA 95170

e-mail: acrag@sain.org

Orders will be shipped October 1990

*********************************************************************
*********************************************************************

======================================================================

Are We Ready?
Canonization of the Victims
by Deacon Hratch Tchilingirian

“Since next year is the 75th anniversary of the Genocide, we
propose that the preparatory activities continue for the
canonization of our victims.”
Joint Communique of
Catholicoi Vazken I and Karekin II
April 29, 1989, Holy Etchmiadzin

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and it
seems that the “preparatory activities” are still continuing . . .
so far the victims have not been canonized.  There are several
problems with the issue of canonizing the victims of
the Genocide.  However, before going into the discussion of these
problems, let us briefly define what “canonization” means.
Canonization is the final declaration by the head of the Church,
whereby the soul of a person or a group of persons are declared to
be in heaven.  After the declaration, the veneration of the
person(s) as a saint is not only permitted, but ordered
for the entire Church. Normally, the process of canonization is
conducted by the Synod of Bishops in the Orthodox Church and the
Sacred Congregation of Rites in the Roman Catholic Church,
afterwards, the final declaration is made by the Patriarch or
by the Supreme Pontiff.  Canonization as a formal process and
declaration started in the tenth century.   In  the primitive
Church, martyrs and later confessors were the first to be publicly
venerated by the faithful.  Until the tenth century,
individuals among the faithful who had lead exemplary and
“venerable” lives were accepted as “saints” without formal
canonization by the Church.

Who are the Saints

The saints are an integral part of the Tradition of the ancient
Churches.  “The doctrine of the Church comes alive in the lives of
the true believers, the saints.   The saints are those who
literally share the holiness of God.  ‘Be holy, for I your
God am holy.’ (Leviticus 11:44; I Peter 1:16)   The lives of the
saints bear witness to the authenticity and truth of the Christian
gospel, the sure gift of God’s holiness to men.”
When a person is canonized, certain honors are conferred upon
that individual:

1) The name of the saint is listed among the other saints of the
church and thus included in the liturgical calendar of the Church.
2) The name of the new saint is invoked in public prayers.
3) Churches are dedicated to God in the saint’s memory.
4) Festive days are designated to celebrate his/her memory.
5) The name of the saint is mentioned in the Divine Liturgy on the
day of the celebration of his/her memory and sometimes special
hymns are sung to mention the virtuous deeds of the saint.
6) Pictorial or iconographical representations are made in which
the saint is surrounded by a heavenly light of glory.
7) When available, the relics of the saint is enclosed in precious
or decorated vessels and are publicly honored.

PRACTICAL, THEOLOGICAL &
POLITICAL PROBLEMS OF CANONIZATION

The practical problem of canonizing the victims of the Armenian
Genocide, or for that matter any person, stems from the fact that
the Synod of Bishops of the Armenian Church, which has the
authority to undertake such a task, has not consistently
met.  If fact, it has been over two decades that the Synod of the
Armenian Church has not convened.  The purpose and function of the
Synod– the assembly of all bishops of the Armenian Church– is to
regulate doctrines or disciplines in the Church.
The decrees of the Synod are held to possess the highest authority
which the Church can give.  The Synod of the Armenian Church is
summoned by the Catholicos and its decrees are confirmed by him.
Obviously, the schism in the Armenian Church between
Etchmiadzin and Antelias possess another problem.  Will the Synod
of each Catholicate meet separately or will a Synod of Bishops
encompass the entire Armenian Church, both Ethmiadzin and
Antelias? If it will be a Synod for the entire Church,  the
logistics of such a Synod still remain to be indefinite and
ultimately, it might be dependent on the unity of the Armenian
Church.

Furthermore, there is no set method or formula in the Armenian
Church by which a person is determined to be a saint.  The
Armenian Church has not canonized any person for the past 500
years.  The last person who was declared a saint was St. Gregory
of Datev (1346-1410), who was an eminent theologian, teacher and
an abbot, under whose instruction and training great leaders
flourished in the Armenian Church.  (It is beyond the scope of
this article to discuss the implications of this 500 year
gap in recognizing the true saints of the Armenian Church.
Archbishop Shnork Kalustian in his book Armenian Saints  mentions
over 25 individuals who should have been canonized, but are not so
far recognized as saints).
The absence of a concrete methodology for canonization and the
overwhelming task of documenting the lives and cases of the
victims of the Genocide, virtually make it impossible to declare
them saints in the proper sense of the term.  For instance,
in the Roman Catholic Church, the initial step of the process is a
formal inquiry, instituted by the bishop of the diocese wherein
the person lived. This inquiry is accomplished by a tribunal of
three judges, a notary, and the “promoter of the
faith,” more commonly called the “devil’s advocate.”  Following
the report of the bishop to Rome, the Sacred Congregation opens
the process, enlarging on the previous inquiries, with a promoter
of the faith again presenting the flaws or weak points
in the evidence.  Only thereafter does the “apostolic process,” as
it is called,  authorize further investigation and the long
process of gathering evidence and determining the worthiness for
beatification
first, and then canonization.   Again, for all practical purposes,
we cannot canonize 1.5 million Armenians en masse, without
documenting or knowing the ways and means of their martyrdom.
Otherwise, their canonization would be exactly what it seems
to be: bestowing them the ultimate honor and recognition without
recognizing their true witness and worthiness for sainthood.
Theologically, once the victims of the Genocide are canonized,
the Armenian Church will be put under a dogmatic imperative, i.e.
they are no longer victims, but victors of Christ.   Once the
victims of the Genocide are canonized,  we can no longer
hold Hokehankists (requiem services) to mourn their death, to
which we have accustomed ourselves. Instead, we will celebrate the
Divine Liturgy invoking their names, asking for their intercession
and celebrate their victory over death, in and
through Christ.  Once the victims of the Genocide are canonized,
we can no longer hold candle light vigils.  The mournful, dark
atmosphere of commemorations of the Genocide will have to be
changed into a “festive” glorious atmosphere. The victims
are no longer victims, but saints who live in the glory of God,
i.e. those who have joined God in an endless sharing of a divine
life beyond all corruption and have found the true life with God.
Hence, the question is whether Armenian
s are willing to see themselves as witness  to the Death and
Resurrection of Christ–for whom hundreds of thousands of
Armenians gave their lives–rather than perpetually identify
themselves as the victim.
Politically, ever since the 50th anniversary of the Genocide,
Armenians have collectively demanding justice for the 1.5 million
victims of the Genocide from the Turks in particular and the world
in general.  Canonization would de facto resolve the
problem of justice. It would be preposterous to demand justice for
saints any longer. Canonization might be detrimental to the
political agenda of the Armenian political mechanism.  It would
mean “let’s forgive and forget” and engage in a “dialogue”
with a new perspective. Furthermore, the terrritorial question
with Turkey might also be complicated.  As it is customary with
saints, does it mean that the places where Armenians were martyred
would be considered shrines or an Armenian “holy land.”
Still, there are many indirect political implications which need
to be carefully examined.
The proposal of the two Catholicoi to canonize the victims of the
Genocide should be examined in light of the problems surrounding
the issue.  Since the details of their proposal are not available
or so far have not been public and based on the
state of events in the Armenian Church, the proposal seems to
serve as an added “glitter” to the observance of the 75th
anniversary of the Genocide.  Seventy five years have passed and
the world seems to “ignore” the victims of the Genocide, thus,
in our frustration, the ultimate honor that we can render our
victims is to declare them as saints.  We would do injustice to
our victims if we canonize them without recognizing their
martyrdom for Christ and its impact on our lives individually and
on our nation collectively.  The saints are canonized primarily
for the faithful.  Declaring the victims as saints is not
rewarding them the “medal of honor,” but it is to follow their
example in obtaining the “heavenly crown of glory.”  It is to
perpetuate their witness to Christ through our own mission and
evangelism in this world.

======================================================================

Armenian Church Treasurers:
“Proven Profit Potential!”

It rarely surprises us to learn that our Armenian Church
treasurers have left the non-Armenian observer in awe.  Such art,
as inspired only by God, has filled the pages of manuscripts and
today are indeed our “treasures.”
It was therefore alarming to receive in the mail a solicitation
to buy pages of a rare Armenian manuscript.  It was truly
appalling to read the literature regarding this “proven profit
potential.”  It is even more appalling to witness the silence
of our Church heirarchs as Armenian Express (U.S.A.) Inc. rips the
pages of a heavenly treasure in search of temporal riches.
The manuscript in question is a 400 year-old hand crafted volume,
“The Lives of the Saints.”  It is billed as “somehow survived over
centuries of war, famine, earthquakes, plagues and strife.”
Surely it will not survive man’s greed.  The author of
the solicitation, Setrak Kalpakian, admits, “Nearly all Armenian
manuscripts as old as this are preserved in the archives of
Armenian churches,” yet he appeals to our weakness to profit by
offering an unconditional lifetime guarantee on the $800 per
page offer.
We do not question the economics or the alternatives of such an
endeavor.  Surely if this collector’s item had fallen into other
hands we may have never known of its fate.  Nonetheless, it is in
Armenian hands.  There is a question of ethics which
supercedes our primordial desire to “make a buck.”  The Church
heirarchs in their silence have done nothing short of condoning
this entrepreneur’s dream.
The A.C.R.A. Group with an earnest desire to study and present
the faith of our forefathers to the Armenians takes exception to
this silence and calls on readers of Window to voice their
opinion. Carriers of the Armenian Express credit card may
send their torn/cancelled credit cards to Setrak Kalpakian,
Chairman, c/o Armenian Express (U.S.A.), Inc. or write to
International Rarities Group, 4300 Montgomery Ave., Bethesda,
Maryland, 20814 or call toll free 1-800-877-1726.
As all icons, our manuscripts are windows through which we see
God. How can we ever place a price tag on this luxury?         –The
Group

Armenian culture was pre-eminently ecclesiastical.  Its
literature did include chronicles and secular poems, but was
overwhelmingly religious as a whole.  Armenian manuscripts, famous
alike for their antiquity, their beauty, and their importance in
the history of writing, are nearly all ecclesiastical.  Most
interesting of all in many ways (especially for the comparison of
texts and variant readings) are the numerous copies of the Gospel.
_ Other important writings were dogmatic works,
commentaries, and sharakans or sacred songs composed in honor of
church festivals.  Armenian art, again, was mainly ecclesiastical,
and survives, on the one hand in the illuminations and miniatures
which adorn the sacred texts, and, on the other, in
the ruined churches and convents which still cover the face of the
country.  Architecture was military as well as ecclesiastical,
but it is hard not to believe that the people of Ani were prouder
of their galaxy of churches than they were of their fortresses,
their walls, and their towers.  — J.B. Bury, History of the Later
Roman Empire, Vol. II, London, 1889.

ELECTED: Very Rev. Fr. Khajag Barsamian was elected Primate of
Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in May 1990, at
the Annual Diocesan Assembly in Worcester, MA.  Fr. Khajag is a
member of the Brotherhood of Jerusalem.  He was ordained
a celibate priest in 1971. He was the Vicar General of the Eastern
Diocese prior to his election. He succeed Archbishop Torkom
Manoogian (presently the Patriarch of Jerusalem), who was the
Primate from 1967-1990.

ELECTED: Very Rev. Fr. Hovnan Derderian was elected Primate of the
Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada in May 1990. He succeeded
the late Archbishop Vazken Keshishian. Fr. Hovnan is a member of
the Brotherhood of Etchmiadzin.  He was ordained a
celibate priest by His Holiness Catholicos Vazken I, in 1980.

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ARMENIAN CHURCH RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS GROUP

The A.C.R.A. GROUP was founded in 1989 by a group of clergy and
lay servants of the Armenian Church.  In view of the recent
developments in the world and particularly in Armenia, the need
for a professional and innovative approach to the matters
facing the Armenian people in general and the Armenian Church in
particular was strongly felt by individuals, who are committed to
the Traditions of the Church and share the vision of St. Gregory
the Illuminator.  The aims of the GROUP are: Through
research and observations, highlight the role of the Armenian
Church in the life of the Armenian people; To provide a forum for
dialogue and discussion on matters concerning the Church today; To
provide publications that would further contribute to
the growth of the Armenian community in the Faith of their
forefathers; To feel the gap between the National and Religious
characteristics of the Armenian Community.

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DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS WANTED
As part of the GROUP’s expanding scope and service there will be
an opening for a Director of Operations at the Group headquarters
in 1991.  The director will function directly under the Group
advisory board and will be responsible for development
of specified programs. Fluency in Armenian, English and computer
skills are mandatory.  Send resume to GROUP.

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Letters to the Group:

With great satisfaction I read your last issue of Window and am
quite delighted that the Armenian Church has finally produced an
informative, high caliber periodical addressing contemporary
issues and life’s problems.  The Armenian Church and her clergymen
have come of age.
Through such literary form as you most appropriately named
Window, we
can now read about the seeds of Our Faith, her Catechesis,
teaching, theology and Orthodox doctrine that have remained for
too long dormant in the storage bins and shelves of libraries,
schools and institutions.  You indeed have begun to help us all
re-read our church as we begin to enter a new century.
Thank you for your vision and we pray for your continued success
that your work shed greater beams of light that will penetrate the
windows of our hearts.
–Fr. Garabed Kochakian, Racine, Wisconsin

Thank you for sending me the first two issues of Window.  I
enclose a copy of the March (1990) issue of the World magazine in
which I have published an article (part of a larger study) trying
to convey Armenia’s theology of survival.  The term
“theology of liberation” (Window, Spring ’90) is not applicable to
our experience.  All the events of Armenian Church history
indicate that the role of our theology was to secure the
religious, spiritual survival of our nation in whatever political
situation he found himself and in whatever environment he found
himself.
–Rev. Dr. Vrej Nersessian, London

Thank you for clearing the “stained glass” so that we may clearly
look into our Church, her beautiful teachings and traditions of
centuries old.
Window is an exceptional piece of literature which should be in
every Armenian home, without a doubt.  God bless you all.  Keep up
the good work.
–Ani Janoyan, Glendale, CA

I truly enjoyed reading your publication.  You can play a major
role in our community by publishing thought provoking–even
controversial articles.
Thank you.
–Louise Simone, New York, NY

I received a copy of Window and I am extremely ecstatic.  The
Armenian Church in America now has a true legitimate publication
of which we can be proud.  Now we can place a magazine next to any
of the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant magazines and
not feel inferior. This work is as close to scholarly standards as
any of our publications have come.
As a well known Armenian revolutionary leader, Mgrdich
Portukalian once said, while in America in 1888, “Whenever an
Armenian has gone he has taken with him his church, his press and
his school.  Without these three integral forces, he cannot
preserve his identity.”
What you are writing is not only teaching us, but preserving our
all important traditions and identity.  May God continue to help
you strive towards your goals.
–Gary Alexander, Cambridge, MA

I congratulate you on your efforts in publishing Window.  The
challenge is to present insights about God, the Church and life
with practical applications in a way that motivates the readers to
live what we believe.
I wish you much success with Window, your individual ministries
and your other activities.
–Dean Shahinian, Alexandria, VA

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Subscription information: $22/year. Send remitance (payable to
SRP), name, address, zip to The Group, P.O. Box 700664, San Jose,
CA 95170.   Letters to the Editor should be addressed to The
Group, or e-mail: acrag@sain.org.

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