It is said that “parting is such sweet sorrow”. Our day to say our farewells to Rev. Ron and Renee may have been just that. On Sunday, June 12, Rev. Ron gave his final sermon as our Senior Pastor at United Armenian Congregational Church. His family had joined us to celebrate his years of serving the Lord. We are blessed to know that we can build upon the legacy of the firm foundation he has built over the years. As a congregation he has been a shepherd who has prepared us to continue forward on our walk with God.
When I announced his departure earlier in the year, the congregation was stunned. In those 26 years, he had simply always been there for so many and was our even keel through both calm waters and stormy seas. He was there through the pandemic, preaching to an empty sanctuary as if it was packed with members of the congregation, giving us all a sense of hope for better days ahead. In fact, during those dark months he reached more people with our Sunday services online than one could have imagined.
Following a video of multiple personal testimonials, appreciative remarks were shared about Rev. Ron by Rev. Hendrik Shahnazarian and Rev. Harut Khachatryan who both worked side-by-side with him for several years. Representatives of our Boards of Deacons, Christian Education, and Trustees made observations from the boards they represent. As Moderator, I spoke to several of his special spiritual qualities: extraordinarily insightful and challenging admonitions to the bride and groom about the permanence of their commitment as they take their sacred vows; joyous optimism through his broad beaming smile as he baptized children into the family of Christ; and sensitive, empathetic, and consoling messages to families and friends at their trying moments of emptiness and grief.
The worship service and farewell testimonials from the pulpit were followed by a casual lunch in our courtyards and fellowship hall, where congregants gathered to share their personal feelings of appreciation with Renee and Rev. Ron.
Yes, it was a sorrowful parting, but the sweetness of the moment reflected the Holy Spirit within each of us as we wished them a fond farewell, but not goodbye. May they continue to serve the Lord, looking to new challenges and opportunities with the wind at their back.
- Ronald Altoon, Moderator
United Armenian Congregational Church, Los Angeles, CA