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Diocese Introduces Strategic Plan at Annual Assembly

Clergy and lay delegates from across the Eastern Diocese gathered at the Diocesan Center in New York City last week for the 112th Diocesan Assembly. In addition to reviewing organizational reports, delegates were introduced to a comprehensive strategic plan developed by the Diocesan Council to help parishes advance the Diocese’s theme “Living the Gospel of Christ” in their local communities. Elections were held for the Diocesan Primate and various Diocesan boards. Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was re-elected to a seventh term as Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern).

The Women’s Guild hosted its annual assembly concurrent with the Diocesan Assembly, and the annual Clergy Conference was held at the beginning of last week (see stories below). 
Diocese Introduces Strategic Plan at Annual Assembly
07 May 2014
At the 112th Diocesan Assembly in New York, the Diocesan Council advanced the theme “Living the Gospel of Christ,” introduced last year, by presenting a comprehensive strategic plan that would benefit parishes across six key areas.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), presided over the meeting of more than 150 clergy and lay delegates, representing parishes from across the Eastern Diocese. The assembly was held at the Diocesan Complex in New York from May 1 to 3, and organized by a committee comprised of parish leaders from the New York metro region.   
In his message to delegates on Friday morning, May 2, Archbishop Barsamian explained that the goal of the Diocesan theme “Living the Gospel of Christ” is to help Armenians understand who Christ is through the traditions of the Armenian Church.
“Last year we explored ‘Living the Gospel’ as individuals; now, I would like us to look into this concept from the larger perspective of our parishes and our community as a whole,” he said. “In the coming year, we will be working, as a Diocese, to strengthen the parishes, and to strengthen their power to inspire the people.”
Following the Primate’s address, Diocesan Council chair James Kalustian outlined the new strategic plan, which was developed by the council and Diocesan staff to provide support to parishes as they continue to explore the theme in their communities.
“The Diocesan Council is committed to instituting positive and lasting change over the years,” Mr. Kalustian said. “To institute such change, we need a concerted, multi-year effort and a living, dynamic plan to move us forward.”
The strategic plan focuses on six key areas: enhancing worship, offering continuing education opportunities for clergy, strengthening youth ministry, developing Christian and Armenian education programs, creating outreach initiatives to welcome prospective church members, and cultivating stewards.
Each area is further broken down into concrete programs and resources the Diocese hopes to offer parishes to help realize the various components of the plan. For the coming year, the council suggested focusing on worship and Christian education.
Working in small groups, delegates reviewed the strategic plan and offered feedback to the council. Their ideas and suggestions will be considered as the Diocesan Council and staff prepare to implement the first phase of the plan in the coming month.
Next Year’s Assembly to Convene in Washington
On Thursday and Saturday, delegates received annual reports and had an opportunity to ask questions about various Diocesan organizations, including the Legate’s Committee, Armenian Church Endowment Fund, Fund for Armenian Relief, Ararat Center, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, Women’s Guild, ACYOA, and the Diocesan departments. They also held elections for the Diocesan Primate and various Diocesan boards.
Turning to the Diocese’s financial footing, delegates heard from Sam Mikaelian, the Diocese’s development coordinator, and Lou Ann Matossian, development director, about the success of the 2013 Annual Appeal, and plans for this year’s fundraising effort.
Paul Mardoian, vice chair of the Diocesan Council, presented a “Debt Elimination Plan” in which he outlined ways the Diocese could strengthen its financial position, reduce borrowing, and pay off debt. Delegates approved a revised budget for 2014, and the proposed budget for 2015.
Another highlight was a discussion of plans underway for next year’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. It was announced that the 2015 Diocesan Assembly would be hosted by St. Mary Church in Washington, DC, where delegates would have the opportunity to take part in an ecumenical prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, attend a memorial concert, and demonstrate on Capitol Hill to seek support for Genocide recognition. Armenians across the nation, including representatives from the Western Diocese, are expected to converge in Washington for the weeklong event.  
Under new business, delegates approved a proposal calling on each parish to allocate $250 annually for the ACYOA Central Council. They amended the Diocesan bylaws to allocate five percent of parish dues for an annual donation to Holy Etchmiadzin. Also approved for the first time was a move to amend the section of the bylaws governing parish nominating committees (approval is needed at next year’s assembly for the amendment to carry).
In closing the meeting on Saturday, May 3, Archbishop Barsamian expressed his gratitude to clergy and delegates for their commitment to the Armenian Church. He also thanked the officers of the assembly and the host committee for their hard work in organizing the weekend’s events.
The 112th Diocesan Assembly was chaired by Raffi Balian, of St. Mary Church of Washington, D.C., with Thomas Garabedian, of Holy Translators Church of Framingham, Mass., serving as vice chair. Linda Sharigian served as the secretary.           
The assembly host committee was co-chaired by George and Lorraine Marootian of St. Leon Church of Fair Lawn, N.J. Other members included: Adi Abdo, Hilda Adil, Lynn Cetin, Lorig Chorluyan, Joyce Ishkanian, Suzanne Kasabian, Linda Keshishian, Ellie Krolian, Sylvia Kruizenga, Gregory Manuelian, Carol Papazian, Berdjouhi Parseghian, and Garo and Bertha Sekdorian.

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