Developments at 43rd Annual Meeting of St. Nersess Board of Dirs.

St Nersess Armenian Seminary
150 Stratton Rd.
New Rochelle, NY 10804

October 1, 2004
St Nersess Seminary
Press Release
September 24, 2004

Major Developments at 43rd Annual Meeting of the St. Nersess Board of

The Board of Directors of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary convened for their
43rd annual meeting on Saturday, September 18 at the Seminary in New
Rochelle, New York. Even the remains of Hurricane Ivan, dumping rains down
on New Rochelle, could not stifle the undeniable spirit of accomplishment
and excitement surrounding the visible growth taking place at St. Nersess.

“No one can deny that we have turned the corner,” said the dean, V. Rev. Fr.
Daniel Findikyan, during his report to the Board.

Following several years of fallow enrollment, the seminary began this
academic year with twelve students preparing for ministry in the Armenian
Church, ten of them preparing for priesthood, and two anticipating
ministries in youth ministry and education. Eleven of the seminarians are
attached to the Eastern Diocese. One student is an ordained priest from
Bulgaria, who is pursuing a special one-year program in pastoral ministry.
The Seminary also serves the Western and Canadian Dioceses.

Presiding at Saturday’s meeting were: His Eminence Abp. Khajag Barsamian,
Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church and President ex
officio of the Board; and His Grace Bishop Bagrat Galstanyan, Primate of the
Diocese of Canada and ex officio Vice-President. His Eminence Abp. Hovnan
Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese and the other ex officio Vice
President was unable to attend.

Also present were the elected officers of the Board: Mrs. Artemis Nazerian
(Secretary), Dr. Raffy Hovanessian (Treasurer), Rev. Karekin Kasparian
(Asst. Secretary) and Mr. Sarkis Bedevian (Asst. Treasurer).

Other members participating in the annual meeting were: Mr. Haig Dadourian
(Chairman of the Eastern Diocesan Council), Mr. Shahe Jebejian, Mr. Asbed
Zakarian, Mr. John Amboian, Ms. Elise Antreassian-Bayizian, Mrs. Barbara
Merguerian, Mr. Antranig Ouzoonian (Chairman of the Building Committee),
Rev. Fr. Karekin Kasparian, and Rev. Kevork Arakelian.

St. Nersess to Create Its Own Accredited Master’s Program

In a particularly exciting development, the Board authorized the seminary
faculty to create a new Master of Divinity program (M.Div.) and curriculum,
which would address the specific needs of Armenian clergy in North America.
It is this program that will be submitted to federal and state agencies for

For 35 years St. Nersess has offered its students a joint M.Div. degree in
collaboration with nearby St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Our
collaboration with St. Vladimir’s permitted our seminarians to earn a
recognized theological degree by completing effectively all of the course
requirements at St. Vladimir’s plus a few specialized courses at St.
Nersess. The collaboration worked well as long as the Armenian Studies
requirements of St. Nersess remained relatively light.

During the past few years, St. Nersess has developed a qualified full-time
faculty. Consequently its course offerings in specifically Armenian subjects
have grown substantially (Classical and Modern Armenian language, music,
liturgy, history, theology, patristics, canon law, preaching, parish
administration and others). The number of courses required by St. Nersess
and St. Vladimir’s has increased to the point that the joint-program is no
longer tenable. Currently our seminarians are pursuing the equivalent of
almost two full Master’s degrees.

New Program Will Be Tailored to Meet Needs of Armenian Church Parishes in
North America

“For the last few years we have felt that we were the dog being wagged by
the tail,” said Dr. Abraham Terian, Academic Dean. “The program that our
seminarians followed was largely determined by St. Vladimir’s, which
ultimately granted the degree. By creating our own M.Div. curriculum, we
will eliminate redundancy in coursework and reshape the program, focusing on
courses and objectives that are most important for an Armenian Priest in
North America,” Terian said.

“St. Nersess will not discontinue its relationship with St. Vladimir’s,”
said Dr. Roberta Ervine, Associate Professor of Armenian Studies. “But the
number of courses our students take there will be greatly reduced.
Meanwhile, we will have the opportunity to send our students to other area
institutions such as Fordham, Yale, and Princeton Universities for select
courses,” she said.

Fr. Findikyan added, “The faculty has long desired to organize semesters
abroad. We’d like to shut down the seminary and transport our students,
faculty and courses to a sister seminary in Armenia or Jerusalem for one
semester . We would offer there, for the benefit of all, whatever courses we
would otherwise be teaching here. At the same time, our students would
benefit from all that the great centers of our church have to offer,
studying, traveling, making friends. I can’t imagine a more exciting and
mutually beneficial exchange program. All of this will become possible once
our new M.Div. makes us masters of our own destiny,” he said.

The Board has authorized the faculty to create and implement the program as
soon as possible, if necessary, even before formal accreditation is
received. Once accreditation is granted, those who have successfully
completed the St. Nersess program would automatically be eligible to receive
the accredited degree retroactively.

“By authorizing this monumental step, you have steered the Seminary on a
path of continued growth and development in recruitment of students and
faculty, as well as development of our financial base,” Fr. Findikyan said,
addressing the Board. “This will be a great challenge, but I believe that it
will bear abundant fruit for our church and our people.”

Catholicos Karekin I Theological Center

The Board also discussed the imminent construction of a new library facility
on the Seminary grounds, to be known as “The Catholicos Karekin I
Theological Center” of St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. Adjacent to the
Theological Center will be an Armenian chapel. Both have been made possible
by the generous support of Mr. and Mrs. Haig and Elza Didizian, their
children and their family. While the entire cost of construction has been
assumed by the Didizian family, some funds will need to be raised for
interior furnishings. (For more information about the Theological Center and
the Seminary’s building plan click here).

Growing Interest in Western Diocese

Representing the Western Diocese was Rev. Fr. Kevork Arakelian, Pastor of
St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church (Fowler, CA). Fr. Kevork is the
first St. Nersess alumnus to be ordained a priest.

Fr. Arakelian transmitted warm greetings from Abp. Hovnan Derderian, who was
unable to attend this meeting, but expressed his full support for the work
and continued growth of St. Nersess. Fr. Arakelian announced that in the
next two years, Hovnan Srpazan would be sending four students to St.
Nersess, with a steady flow of students coming in subsequent years. His
Eminence also expressed his desire that the Dean visit the Western Diocese
on a regular basis, and at least yearly, in order to promote the Seminary’s
work. He also announced that two pages would be reserved for St. Nersess to
contribute news items, essays, and educational articles in each monthly
issue of The Mother Church, the official publication of the Western Diocese.
His Eminence’s proposals were enthusiastically received by the Board

New Board Members Elected

Re-elected to six-year terms on the Board of Directors were Rev. Fr. Karekin
Kasparian, Rev. Fr. Garabed Kochakian, and Mrs. Barbara Merguerian. Also
elected were three new members: Mr. Hagop Kouyoumjian (Holmdel, NJ), Mr.
John Ohanian (San Diego, CA) and Dr. Edward Sarkisian (Northville, MI).

Before adjourning the meeting, Abp. Barsamian publicly thanked Mr. Sarkis
Bedevian, outgoing Board member, for his many years of dedicated service to
the Seminary and to the Armenian Church at large.