New York, October 22, 2020
Yesterday, an “Ecumenical Service for Peace & Justice in Armenia, Artsakh & the World” was held at the St. Vartan Cathedral of the Eastern Diocese of America of the Armenian Church of America in New York.
The prayer service was presided over by the Armenian Bishop Daniel Findikyan and gathered together clergy from a number of Christian confessions, including Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Bishop Irinej of the Eastern American Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The guest speakers were Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Catholic Church, Abp. Elpidophoros, and Bishop David of the Coptic Church. Clergy from the Episcopal Church, the Maronite Church, the Catholic Near East Organization, the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church, and the Armenian Evangelical Church also joined in the prayers.
A event was livestreamed on the Facebook page of St. Vartan Cathedral:
Bp. Daniel of the Armenian Church begins the service, noting that, “We gather together in times of sorrow and fear for turmoil that is surrounding us in so many parts of the world and in our own country as well.” He especially mentions Armenia and Artsakh, where there is currently a “senseless war … that holds great danger for the rest of the world.
“We come together, heart-to-heart, as brother and sister Christians, to renew and restore our faith in the only One that can bring true justice and true peace to our lives and to our world,” he continues.
Following Bp. David’s opening address, at the 5:10 mark in the video, all present pray the Lord’s Prayer together, followed by petitions led by the Armenian bishop.
At 8:20, Bp. Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church reads from the book of Isaiah, followed by New Testament readings from clergy of other churches.
At 22:45, Abp. Elpidophoros begins his address, greeting all present with a salutation and peace as they pray for peace.
Speaking of the violence in the Caucasus and the destruction of churches, he states: “My heart was broken when I saw the images brought to us by the news.”
“What is happening is no less than the erasure of Christianity from this part of the world,” he adds.
And speaking of the connection between the Greek and Armenian people, he continues: “Who can forget the many centuries of common history that Armenians and Greeks share? We live in the same regions of the world. We share the same faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We suffered the tragedies together. But we also rose together, rose together from a world of injustice by preserving our cultures, by preserving our languages, and by preserving our holy traditions.”
And quoting from the Encyclical of 2016’s Council of Crete, he says: “The Church strives to make ‘the peace from on high’ more tangibly felt on earth. True peace is not achieved by force of arms, but only through love that ‘does not seek its own’ (1 Cor 13.5). The oil of faith must be used to soothe and heal the wounds of others, not to rekindle new fires of hatred.”
The Archbishop then refers to Patriarch Bartholomew’s recent speech at the G20 summit, in which he insisted that the journey to peace is founded in justice and solidarity. “Tonight, we pray all together for justice and we express our most fraternal solidarity,” Abp. Elpidophoros said, adding a call to the international community to rise against the present injustice in the Caucasus.
At 38:50, all pray together a prayer of Gregory of Narek, an Armenian saint.
The service concludes with a prayer from Cardinal Dolan and hymns of the Armenian tradition.
Yesterday, OrthoChristian reported that Pat. Bartholomew, Bishop Ambrose of Bogorodsk, vicar of the Patriarchal Exarch of Western Europe of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Metropolitan Joseph of Western and Southern Europe of the Romanian Orthodox Church participated in an ecumenical prayer service and interreligious peace event in Rome. Pat. Bartholomew also participated in a prayer service with Catholic clergy the day before.