AMAA gala highlights national ties, Christian faith and service

(L to R): AMAA benefactors, Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Joyce Stein, Catholicos Aram l and Archbishop Mardirossian.

UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIF. - The October 15 Gala Banquet of the Armenian Missionary Association of America titled Nine Decades of Christian Faith and Service at the Sheraton Universal Hotel, assembled together in one room were Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia, Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian Prelate of the Western Prelacy, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian Primate of the Western Diocese, Father Krikor Chahinian Pastor of Glendale's St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church, a large assemblage of Armenian Evangelical Pastors from Armenia, Europe, Middle East, U.S. and Canada and keynote speaker the Honorable Marvin R. Baxter, Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court.

After a welcome by the Executive Director of the AMAA Levon Filian, the Master of Ceremonies team of Ken Kevorkian and Joe Stein alternated introductions. In his keynote address, Judge Baxter who was appointed to the court by Governor George Deukmejian in 1991, chronicled the story of a California Supreme Court Justice during the Gold Rush era.

AMAA President Dr. H. Steven Aharonian, recognized Rev. Rene Leonian for his dedicated 17-year mission of service in Armenia and also thanked Mrs. Leonian (Sylvie), a pharmacist, who worked at the AMAA's Yerevan Medical Clinic. Rev. Leonian will soon open a new field for the AMAA in Eurasia. The musical program was coordinated by Rev. Nerses Balabanian who accompanied soloists' tenor Raffi Kerbabian and soprano Salpi Keleshian. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian delivered an uplifting spiritual message to the audience.

Rev. Mgrditch Melkonian, Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, warmly introduced Catholicos Aram I who was in California from Antelias, Lebanon for a 20-day official Pontifical visit.

The Pontiff brought the crowd to its feet and captivated the audience with an eloquent, ecumenical message of hope. He referred to the gathering of the Apostolic, Evangelical, and Catholic churches, declaring that "We all belong to the same tree, but we have different branches, sharing the same values with different articulation." "Jesus Christ reminds us," he affirmed, "that when two people are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them. Our mission is our people and serving our people. Our churches should work together. This is our challenge."

Joyce Stein, on behalf of the AMAA and in honor of His Holiness Aram I, announced that the AMAA has established a special fund for Haigazian University to offer a course for two years through its Center for Continuing Education to seminary students of the Great House of Cilicia at Antelias.

Mrs. Stein commended Harry and Cheryl Nadjarian who made a $10,000 contribution to support the continuing education of priests at Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon. For many years His Holiness Aram I has taught at Haigazian.

The AMAA presented a video describing the current worldwide missions of the AMAA in 24 countries. Presently there are 145 Armenian Evangelical churches and fellowships worldwide, Haigazian University, 25 Armenian Evangelical schools, the Children's Milk Fund, summer and day camps for 5,800 children in Armenia and Karabagh, medical and dental clinics, sponsorships of needy children, and tuition aid through the AMAA Child Education Program.

Rev. Joe Matossian of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America asked all of the clergy to approach the stage and was surrounded by priests and pastors from near and far as he offered the closing benediction.

Source: The Armenian Reporter