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Minister to the Union's Pastoral Trips to the East Coast

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Trip to Philadelphia and New Jersey, July 12-16, 2023

My first stop on this short trip was Pennsylvania. July 12, Thursday, I met with Rev. William P. Worley, Conference Minister of PA Southeast Conference of United Church of Christ. We discussed the situation of our respective churches and especially the Armenian Martyrs' Congregational Church (AMCC) of Havertown, PA and its Bridge pastor Dr. Heather Ohaneson.

Later that day, I met the AMCC moderator Ms. Pauline Karjian and her mother Mrs. Rebeca Karjian to talk about Armenian Evangelical concerns in the Near East, past stories, and the current status of their church. Following that meeting, I had a very fruitful talk with AMCC Deacon Daniel Babaian and his wife, Nora, who is also very active at church.

I visited Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) offices in Paramus, NJ, Friday, and had lunch and fellowship with AMAA CEO/Executive Director Mr. Zaven Khanjian and AMAA staff. After lunch, Mr. Khanjian and I had a helpful discussion about our current situation, needs and options.

Friday night, I spent some time with Armenian Presbyterian Church (APC) pastor Rev. Joseph Garabedian, his wife Taline and their son Garo. This was a great opportunity to connect with each other on a personal level.

Saturday morning, the men of APC in Paramus had organized a breakfast and Bible study. I shared my testimony and life lessons learned during my faith journey. About 40 people were present, and there was a good discussion after the presentation, which continued with a small group of younger members focusing on specific topics.

Following that gathering, Michael Voskian and family welcomed me at their home, where we discussed issues related to the church, the Union and AMAA. I enjoyed lunch and fellowship with them.

Saturday evening, Berjouhi and Maurice Gulesserian welcomed me and a group of church leaders and their families for a great time of fellowship and delicious dinner. Rev. Garabedian and I enjoyed the conversation, and answered questions about the Union as well as some theological and Biblical questions. Everybody appreciated the time, and expressed that we need more of such sincere and educational talks.

The Sunday worship service at APC Paramus was well attended, and four individuals were accepted as church members. My visit concluded with another visit with Rev. Garabedian and his family, which brought us even closer to each other. I departed with hope, excited and refreshed, thanking God for all that happened during those four days.

Trip to Watertown and Worcester, MA, July 27-30, 2023

Thursday morning, July 27, I met with Rev. Avedis Boynerian and Father Ghazar Bedrossian of Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church in Belmont. Following that, Rev. Boynerian and I discussed his future plans and options for ministry and current needs and challenges of the Union at this time.

In the afternoon, I visited Rev. Hagop Manjelikian, his wife Kohar and her mother Lida at their home. I enjoyed their Armenian hospitality and heard stories about the past and God's faithfulness to them during their difficult times. We talked about the current situation of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Cranston, RI. This was a great opportunity to have personal fellowship Badveli and his family. Following that, I met with Deacon Carlos Tarakjian, over dinner, and we got to know each other as we talked also about the situation of the church.

Saturday, I moved on to Worcester, where I met with the leadership of Armenian Church of the Martyrs (ACM) to discuss their future plans as the church says goodbye to Pastor Stephen Carlyle after five years of service. Sunday, I had a short visit to Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church of Worcester, as the Badarag was being celebrated, and then joined Grace Presbyterian Church toward the end of their service. The Grace church worships early at ACM’s sanctuary and the ACM service starts at 11:00 AM.

Pastor Carlyle’s message used a special resource, “CASKET EMPTY,” that traces the biblical storyline through five key periods: Expectations, Messiah, Pentecost, Teaching, and Yet-to-come, represented by the acronym EMPTY. Together with his wife Carol and the music team they sang songs and hymns matching each of the periods presented. Toward the end of service, as Minister to the Union I thanked Pastor Carlyle and for their five years of dedicated service through which Pastor Carlyle preached the Word of God and used creative ways, means and events to convey the message, serve the congregation and be involved in the community. I also thanked the Church leadership for their commitment and faithful service over many decades, then prayed thanking God for His faithfulness and asking for wisdom and direction both for Pastor Carlyle and for ACM. Following the service, participants enjoyed a reception planned for this occasion, and during this time I had the opportunity to meet with church members.

That afternoon I was able to meet with Mrs. Sylvia Jizmejian, AEUNA Eastern Region Minister to Youth and Camp Arevelk Director. We discussed her ministry, and current needs and future plans of the camp and Eastern Region youth projects.

This short trip was also a great opportunity to meet with a few more leaders of our Union churches. I returned home thanking God for His faithfulness and encouraged by the dedication of faithful members who do their best to keep the doors of their churches open and continue their ministries, who at the same time face the challenge of keeping the younger generation at church or bringing back those who are no longer there for different reasons. May our Lord give us wisdom, and energy to serve and support our churches and ministries in their mission while together we do our best to share the message of the Gospel and glorify His name through all we do.

- Rev. Hendrik Shanazarian

Minister to the Union

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