“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
(1 Timothy 4:12).
The Annual Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO) held its annual convention weekend at the Headquarters of the Western Diocese beginning on Friday, January 19. Delegates gathered at the Hampar Family Room on Friday, January 17 following the chapter and delegate registration process.
The first session commenced with an opening prayer and welcoming remarks by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church. Addressing the youth, Archbishop Derderian reflected on the challenges faced by the youth. “Undeniably, each of us is challenged by inner struggles. Physical, mental and emotional issues, set strict limits and boundaries in our lives. We face a number of uncertainties and at times, feel imprisoned in a free society. Uncertainties about the future are derived from the crises of today. Political and civil unrests, revolutions, economic sanctions, plague the world. Consequently, our spiritual peace and harmony is devastated.”
His Eminence offered key solutions to the aforementioned. “How does one prosper in such a society? It is through our complete reliance on our ancestral Christian Faith that allows us to not only survive but to thrive as well. And the key message which I want to share with you is embedded in the word identity.” Archbishop Derderian elaborated on the significance of preserving the Armenian Christian identity as a condition to thriving in society.
The administrative report was read by ACYO Central Council Chair Nataline Jindoian wherein she the briefed the delegates on the minutes of the 70th Annual General Assembly at St. John Armenian Church in San Francisco and rehashed the activities of the ACYO Central Council in 2019. Last year’s ACYO activities included the senior and junior ACYO retreats, the annual sports weekend, CYMA trip, the four-week long Hye Camp program, ACYO visits to the parishes in the Pacific Northwest, the ACYO World International Chairs’ Summit in Holy Etchmiadzin, the Christmas fellowship, visitation to Ararat Home and the Christmas Ball.
The delegates were watched a presentation detailing the present and future activities and projects at the Diocesan Summer Camp by Camp Committee Chair Nichole Nigosian.
Committee chair Silvana Vartanian highlighted the mission of Nerouj of empowering the Armenian youth through education, support and mentorship. Referencing to Nerouj’s monthly mixers and annual New Connect series in which professionals offer advice and mentorship through lively discussions, Silvana Vartanian encouraged the members of the ACYO to actively engage in the networking benefits offered by Nerouj.
The first session concluded with an open-air social mixer at the Turpanjian Plaza.
The delegates gathered for the second session which commenced at 9 am on the following day. Following an opening prayer, the delegates heard an inspirational presentation by on organizational goal setting by Stepan Khzrtian, Esq., member of the Parish Council of St. Leon (Srbots Ghevontiants) Armenian Cathedral, Chair of the diocesan youth advisory committee and founding partner of Legal Lab Law. During the ACYO Convention, Stepan Khzrtian took the floor to present over four decades of speeches, sermons, and writings by Archbishop Hovnan Derderian on the youth, condensed into one page and presented in five minutes. Khzrtian highlighted that three overarching themes acted as the golden threads sewing together Srpazan’s vision on youth, and those were the oneness of the Church and the Youth; the call to the Youth to be leaders and also stewards of the Church; and the prerogative and the responsibility of the Youth to make demands upon the Church and its clergy. Several lines that reflected these themes were cited during the presentation; we present the full version of the page here, in Armenian and English, for your perusal.
“Effective Public Relations Today” was the theme of the presentation of guest speaker Mihran Toumajan, Western Regional Director of the Armenian Assembly of America.
Elections were held in the second session. The delegates cast their ballots to elect the members of the Central Council. The 2020-2021 ACYO Central Council is as follows: Victoria Amran – Chairman; David Safrazian - Vice Chairman; Nerces Der Abrahamian – Treasurer; Alen Ashikian - Corresponding Secretary; Andrew Hagopian - Publicity Director; Ossanna Amran; Advisor; and Kevin Kestekyan – Advisor.
The third session commenced with presentations of the Christian Youth Mission to Armenia (CYMA) by Gayana Paresgova, the upcoming RECLAIM Conference by the Rev. Fr. Vazken Movsesian and the Honorable Judge Adrienne Krikorian, Chair of the Diocesan Council and President of House of Hope – Mer Hooys, Inc.
In his closing remarks, the Primate expressed his wholehearted gratitude to the Youth Director of the Western Diocese the Rev. Fr. Avedis Abovian for his compassionate care, leadership and encouragement. Archbishop Derderian also addressed words of appreciation to and commended the Diocesan clergy, his brothers in Christ, for their unwavering support of the youth. His Eminence thanked the Diocesan Council Chair the Honorable Judge Adrienne Krikorian for encouraging the youth with her inspirational address, the Cathedral’s Pastor the Rev. Fr. Khajag Shahbazyan for his pastoral leadership, the members of the Cathedral ACYO for their resolute faith in serving Christ, our Lord and the Armenian Church as well as the guest speakers Mihran Toumajan and Stepan Khzrtian, Esq. for the delivery of their heartfelt and genuine speeches.
The convention came to a close with the Primate’s closing prayer.
The 2021 ACYO Convention will be held from January 15-17 at St. Geragos Armenian Church of Las Vegas.a