Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), visited Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, Pa., on Sunday, November 20, as the community commemorated the 45th anniversary of its current house of worship.
During the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, Archbishop Barsamian ordained five acolytes (Daniel Aslanian, Shawn Carnavale, Frederick Jordan, Andrew Movsesian, and Brian Peckjian) and five sub-deacons (Michael Alexanian, James Keshgegian, Harout Nalbandian, Brian Peckjian, and Chris Torcomian).
In a sermon on lay ministry—this year’s Diocesan theme—Archbishop Barsamian spoke about Christ’s call, reminding parishioners that “we are called to be like Christ, to recognize our true identity in and through him, and to share who we are with others.”
Following services, close to 300 people gathered for the celebratory banquet. The Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan, parish pastor, welcomed Archbishop Barsamian and expressed his gratitude to the banquet committee and the attendees.
“Today we thank our Almighty Lord because he gave us the opportunity to have this beautiful church and this beautiful property,” Fr. Gevorgyan said. “I know your parents and you worked very hard for this church, and now you are enjoying the fruit of your labor.”
The afternoon program included musical performances by local artists Dr. Andre Garabedian and Greg and Karinne’ Andonian. A photo slideshow featured images of the church through its four-and-a-half decade history.
Six individuals who have been faithful servants were recognized as “pillars” of Holy Trinity Church: Robert and Lorraine Damerjian, Larry and Jeanette DerHagopian, John Kash, and Merle Santerian. The honorees were presented with the “St. Vartan Award” by Archbishop Barsamian.
“This was a wonderful way of bringing our community together,” said Merle Santerian, who has chaired the parish council and continues to be involved in parish organizations. “I am grateful and blessed to have the opportunity to contribute to this parish, and I am honored to have received this beautiful award.”
Archbishop Barsamian spoke about the importance of carrying forward the mission of the Armenian Church, and emphasized each parishioner’s role in helping to realize that mission. He said the day’s celebration was “an opportunity to express that we are a living Armenian Church and that in our togetherness we can answer God’s call.”
Holy Trinity Church was originally located elsewhere within Philadelphia but when a fire destroyed the church building in 1964, parishioners decided to rebuild outside the city and purchased property in the Cheltenham suburb. The present church was consecrated in September 1966.
The 45th anniversary celebration was the result of the collaborative efforts and service of the entire parish. On this occasion the community also welcomed a number of special guests: the Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian, pastor of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church of Wynnewood, Pa.; the Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, pastor of St. Gregory the Enlightener Church of White Plains, N.Y.; the Rev. Fr. Vertanes Kalayjian, former pastor of St. Mary Church of Washington, D.C.; and Sister Arousiag and Sister Emma from the Armenian Sisters Academy.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see all the people, especially the representation by our friends from all of the other Philadelphia-area Armenian churches,” said parishioner Tanya Paretchan. “Events like this bring everyone together as a community and ignite energy among us. We couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Photo 1: (seated, from left) Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, and Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian with altar servers and choir members at Holy Trinity Church.
Photo 2: Archbishop Khajag Barsamian ordained acolytes and sub-deacons during a recent visit to Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, Pa.
Photo 3: Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian with the “St. Vartan Award” recipients at Holy Trinity Church.
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Tel: (212) 686-0710; Fax: (212) 779-3558
November 28, 2011