Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert
Tel: (212) 686-0710; Fax: (212) 779-3558
November 27, 2001
Armenian Church will host annual gathering of Oriental Orthodox
Con-celebration of the Divine Liturgy
10 a.m. on Saturday, December 1, 2001
St. Leon Armenian Church
12-61 Saddle River Road
Fair Lawn, NJ
By Jake Goshert
With a variety of voices, regional leaders from several denominations
will celebrate their common purpose -- praising the Lord -- during a
special ceremony at St. Leon Armenian Church in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.
The Diocese of the Armenian Church of America will host the Con-
celebration of the Divine Liturgy starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday,
December 1, 2001.
The event will bring together leaders from all of America's Oriental
Orthodox Christian communities (Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Malabar
"It's a good opportunity for dialog with our Oriental Orthodox
brothers in Christ," said Fr. Diran Bohajian, pastor at St.
Leon. "This is a good opportunity to worship with them. We are in
communion with them, we share the same theology; but because of the
distances, we do not get to see them that often."
The honor of hosting the annual event is given to a different Oriental
Orthodox denomination each year. The Armenian Church was chosen this
year because 2001 marks the 1700th anniversary of Armenia's
conversion to Christianity, making it the first Christian nation in
During the service, archbishops and bishops from each of the churches
will celebrate a portion of the liturgy. And while all of the
participants at the alter will represent Oriental Orthodox traditions
(early Christian faiths that, while functioning independently, remain
in communion with one another), organizers say anyone of any
background will find interest, beauty, and spirit in the service.
"Not only is it a religious event, but it's also an education, a
chance to learn about these five different traditions that will be
represented," said Fr. Simeon Odabashian, an organizer of the event
and the Mission Parish Project coordinator for the Diocese of the
Armenian Church of America. "And for Armenians, it's a chance to
learn that we're not just the Armenian church, but that there are
these other churches, sister churches, that have a common philosophy
that we can all celebrate."
The Con-celebration was conceived by members of the Standing
Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH), a working-
group of leaders from the five churches. Meeting regularly, the
group tries to find ways to increase communication and understanding
within the Oriental Orthodox community.
"Having this group, we're able to come together and have a united
voice. That's the goal: to have a united voice and be a united
witness to the Oriental Orthodox tradition," Fr. Simeon said.
Cultivating working relationships with other churches creates closer
friendships, especially helpful to the ethnically-centered faiths
that find their followers dispersed throughout the country. In
Charlotte, NC, for example, there is an Armenian community with
plenty of faith, but no church building. Frequently, they will use
the church built by the city's Coptic community as a surrogate.
But in the shadow of the September 11 attacks on New York, working
together has brought not just a helping hand but also a calming
"Even prior to that infamous day, it was not uncommon for
representatives of religious groups in America to meet and share
ideas about common concerns regarding religious and ethical issues in
the modern world," said Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Diocese of
the Armenian Church of America. "Far from curtailing such
gatherings, September 11 obligated the nation's religious leaders --
particularly here in New York -- to meet even more frequently; it
provided an occasion to put the teachings of our respective religions
about peaceful co-existence -- a teaching common to many religions --
into actual practice."
Along with Archbishop Barsamian, the participants in the ceremony will
include Archbishop Abune Mattias from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church,
Archbishop Mor Nicholovos Zachariah from the Malankara Archdiocese of
the Syrian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Mar Cyril Aphrem Karim of the
Syrian Orthodox Church, and Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox
The Con-celebration of the Divine Liturgy, open to the public, will
take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 1, 2001, at St. Leon
Armenian Church, 12-61 Saddle River Road, in Fair Lawn, NJ. A
complimentary luncheon will follow the ceremony and participants are
asked to R.S.V.P. by calling the church office at (201) 791-2862.