Legate meets with Christians in Middle East

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

February 17, 2005


At the invitation of the Middle East Council of Churches, a delegation
from the National Council of Churches (NCC) toured the Middle East from
January 21 to February 4, 2005. The delegates visited Christian,
Muslim, and Jewish leaders during stops in Beirut, Cairo, Tel Aviv, and

“Our message was one of solidarity with the Christians,” said Bishop
Vicken Aykazian, diocesan legate and ecumenical officer, who traveled
with the 11-member delegation from January 21 to February 4, 2005. “And
the message we received was they longed for solidarity with western
Christian communities.”

“Now they know they have partners in the Western world who are concerned
about their disappearance and the larger problems in the Middle East and
in the Holy Land,” the legate added.


While showing solidarity with local Christians, the group also brought a
message of peace and hope for the future to the area.

“We have hope that there will be peace and that peace will continue.
With the death of Arafat and the new efforts at dialogue, this is the
best opportunity for peace,” Bishop Aykazian said.

When speaking with Palestinian leaders, Bishop Aykazian said the group
asked what they could do to promote peace. They told him the best thing
for the Christian community to do is support Christians in the Middle
East financially and morally, by visiting and sending support.


Taking up that call, Bishop Aykazian is urging all Armenians to remember
and support the Armenians in the Holy Land.

During the NCC journey, the delegates spent five hours meeting with
Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. They met with
members of the Brotherhood of St. James and toured the patriarchate and
the library of ancient Armenian manuscripts. They also visited the
Church of the Holy Archangels and the Cathedral of St. James.

“The visit gave all of them a chance to see that Armenians could play a
very important role in the future of Jerusalem,” Bishop Aykazian said.

He urges Armenians in the diaspora to learn about the patriarchate, to
get involved in supporting its work, and to make a special effort to

“They receive no financial help, not even moral help. So I invite the
Armenians in the diaspora to go and visit and bring their financial
contributions to the Armenians in Jerusalem. It is a must, especially
today more than any other time. So I hope that that Armenians will do
something to encourage our brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.”

— 2/17/05

E-mail photos available on request. Photos also viewable in the News
and Events section of the Eastern Diocese’s website,

PHOTO CAPTION (1): Bishop Vicken Aykazian, legate and ecumenical
officer of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern),
meets with Saed Erekat, chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority,
during a recent visit to the Middle East.

PHOTO CAPTION (2): Bishop Aykazian meets with His Holiness Pope
Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and Guirgis Saleh, general
secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches.

PHOTO CAPTION (3): An 11-member delegation from the National Council of
Churches (NCC), including Bishop Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese, meets
with His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, of the Coptic Orthodox Church,
during a tour of the Middle East.

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