March 29-31, 2022 more than 20 pastors gathered for an AEUNA Pastors retreat in San Francisco.
During the two-day event, pastors had time to worship and pray together, and to participate in four discussion sessions.
Rev. Dr. Haig Kherlopian was the facilitator for the session "Forging Our Path into the Future," starting with information on post-COVID challenges of the churches in the USA, and focusing on some of the challenges that Union churches face, especially our smaller churches. He talked about the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York City's experience, their efforts, and the necessary steps to reorganize and revive a small church, making it relevant to the needs of its members and community.
Rev. Jeremy Tovmassian led the discussion on "The Value of Counseling in Pastoral Ministry," referring to a few mental health issues and how they present challenges that churches and pastors face. He encouraged pastors to consult with a specialist who can help with referrals when necessary.
Rev. Aren Balabanian, head of the subcommittee in the Ministry Committee, led a discussion on "Pastoral Compensation Package," updating the pastors about the work done in the committee and asking for their input.
For one of the sessions, Rev. Dr. Ron Tovmassian led a discussion that allowed all the pastors to exchange their ideas on the subject of the ordination of women. The object was to have an open forum and hear everyone’s thoughts. From the discussions, it is clear that we have pastors and churches on both sides of this issue in our community. The AEUNA has not taken a position one way or the other, so it is important to foster a sense of mutual respect and understanding as we continue to work together in harmony for the mission of God’s kingdom. Future opportunities for further discussion will be planned at the appropriate time and place.
The morning of Wednesday, March 30, Ministry Committee Chair Rev. Dr. Ron Tovmassian led the Oral Examination for Pastor David Azizian, the final step in the process of Pastor Azizian's ordination. After an hour of listening to his testimony and answers to theological and practical questions, those present voted unanimously to advise the Ministry Committee to plan for Pastor Azizian's ordination in consultation with the Armenian Christian Fellowship of Orange County Church.
On Wednesday afternoon, pastors enjoyed free time in the city and dined together. This was a very fruitful retreat and it was a joyous experience for all the participants.
Immediately afterward, the AEUNA Board of Directors met March 31-April 2, 2022 at Calvary Armenian Congregational Church in San Francisco. The meeting started with a devotional message, a time to get know each other better, and a time of prayer.
On Friday different committee chairs and individuals, as well as representatives of the affiliated and recognized organizations, presented their reports and answered questions. In the evening, the Task Force of the Vision Committee led a workshop on how the AEUNA and its current structure addresses the needs and challenges of the Union churches. A summary of the information acquired from meetings of the Task Force with the churches was used for this purpose. The Board of Directors and meeting participants were warmly welcomed and hosted by church members, and enjoyed delicious food prepared by church volunteers.
Sunday morning, April 3, Minister to the Union Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian and some of the Board members attended the church service and enjoyed a delicious lunch together with AEUNA Moderator and church pastor Rev. Calvin Sagherian and his wife Janine.