Under the auspices of His Eminence Abp. Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, a special 2-day Deacons’ training seminar was organized by the Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, Pastor of St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles. The first session was held on Friday, July 11 at the Diocesan Headquarters in Burbank. The Primate delivered the welcoming remarks to the twenty-four acolytes, sub-deacons and deacons who participated in the training seminar.
He encouraged the altar servers to remain resolute in their ancestral Christian Faith and loyal to the sacred teachings and traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church. His Eminence commended the initiative of Fr. Tachejian to continuously hold such seminars. In his remarks the Primate said “Beloved altar servers, your commitment to serving our Lord and Savior should resemble the saying of St. Paul the Apostle – To me, Christ is life. Your lives should become more meaningful through Christ, our Lord.”
Also taking part in the event was the Rev. Fr. Zacharia Saribekyan, Pastor of St. Apkar Armenian Church in Arizona and Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan, Pastor of St. Leon Armenian Cathedral.
Following the Primate’s welcoming remarks, Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian, Pastor of the Armenian Church of Crescenta Valley, lectured on the topic of “The Deacon and his role in the Church.” Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian and Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan educated the altar servers about the history and the proper execution of the Blessing of the Four Corners of the World (Antastdan.)
The symbolic meaning of church vestments was the topic of Rev. Fr. Zaven Markosyan, Pastor of St. Mary Armenian Church in Yettem. Synaxis, edification and proclamation of the Nicene Creed was the topics of Archpriest Fr. Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian, the last lecturer of the evening.
Following the seminar, the altar servers and the clergy gathered at the Primate’s residence where they enjoyed a pizza dinner.
Saturday, July 12
On the following day, the altar servers gathered at St. James Armenian Church in Los Angeles for another informative session. The day’s first lecturer was the Diocese’s Librarian and Interreligious and Ecumenical Officer Mr. Hayk Madoyan whose topic of discussion was the significance and history of Divine Liturgy and the importance of scripture in the life of the Church.
In a training session conducted by Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian, the altar servers learned the liturgical chant “Etchmiadzin I Horeh.” The Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian, Pastor of the host parish, trained them the proper singing of the Gospel chant.
The purpose and significance of Church Vessels (chalice, fans, candleholders, processional cross, censor, dove, paten, etc.) was introduced to the altar servers by Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian.
The Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist was the lecture topic of Rev. Fr. Vazken Movsesian, Pastor of St. Peter Armenian Church in Glendale.
Along with Archpriest Fr. Vartan Kasparian, Rev. Fr. Haroutioun Tachejian and Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros the altar servers learned to prepare unleavened bread (nushkhar). Other training sessions included Bringing-Up the Chalice (Veraperoom) and Nicene Creed (Havadamk) and censing (poorvar) by Fr. Vartan, Fr. Haroutioun and Dn. Vatche Takarlekian.