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CHARLOTTE PARISH OBSERVES NAME DAY (Armenian Church of America – Eastern)


Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), visited St. Sarkis Church of Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month as the parish observed its name day and the anniversary of the church’s consecration.



On Saturday evening, February 15, the community welcomed Archbishop Barsamian in the church’s Acopian Hall. Members of various parish organizations—including the Parish Council, ACYOA, Women’s Guild, and choir—had an opportunity to meet with the Primate, share recent accomplishments and concerns, and to ask questions about parish life and recent developments in the worldwide Armenian Church.



Later that evening, Dr. Sylvie Bastajian Yessayan, the parish’s Diocesan delegate, hosted a dinner for Archbishop Barsamian, the parish’s deacon-in-charge Benjamin Rith-Najarian, and members of the Acopian family who generously supported the construction of St. Sarkis Church.



On Sunday, February 16, Archbishop Barsamian celebrated the Divine Liturgy. He was assisted by Dn. Rith-Najarian and young altar servers. As has become tradition on the Feast of St. Sarkis the Warrior (which fell on February 15 this year), the Charlotte church’s patron saint, the Primate blessed madagh and led a requiem service in memory of the deceased benefactor and parishioners of St. Sarkis Church.


Later that afternoon, at a luncheon and program, the “St. Vartan” award was presented to longtime parishioner and current parish council chair Hagop Sarkissian. The parish also presented an award to the Acopian family in recognition of the architectural significance of the sanctuary. A second award was presented to the Touloukian family for the two beautiful stained glass windows they donated to the church.


The parish’s children’s dance group, donning traditional Armenian costumes, gave a colorful performance. Other parishioners performed on the piano and duduk.


“It was a unique opportunity for the Armenian community in Charlotte to get together to witness an episcopal Divine Liturgy,” Mr. Sarkissian said, “and our program after services allowed parishioners to enjoy the talent we have here and to celebrate our faith and culture.”


In his remarks, Dn. Rith-Najarian reflected on the historical St. Sarkis’s status in the Armenian Church as a “saint of love,” noting that the establishment of St. Sarkis Church “required hard work, time, money, but most of all, it required a love of God, each other, and the Armenian Church.” Dn. Benjamin encouraged community members to continue supporting one another and working toward a more vibrant parish.


Dn. Benjamin began his ministry in Charlotte six months ago, and already the parish has noted exciting changes. Young people have benefitted from an acolyte training program and bimonthly ACYOA Bible study sessions, which are hosted in the homes of ACYOA members. The Sunday School was re-launched earlier this academic year, and plans are underway to re-open the parish’s Armenian School . In addition, the new deacon-in-charge hosts regular Bible studies for adults, which are followed by an evening service.


“It is always a joy for me to visit this community,” Archbishop Barsamian said. “I am so happy to see that under the guidance of Dn. Benjamin—a young and energetic leader—this parish continues to grow and to carry forward the mission of the Armenian Church of America.”


The Armenian community of Charlotte began to form in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In March 2000, the parish purchased a property in Charlotteand began planning the construction of a new house of worship. The late Sarkis Acopian of Easton , Pa. , and his wife, Bobbye Acopian, generously pledged more than $2 million to the building project in memory of Mr. Acopian’s mother, Dr. Arax Acopian.


Four years later, a cornerstone-blessing was held, and in July 2005 Archbishop Barsamian traveled to Charlotte to consecrate the newly-built St. Sarkis Church.


Helen Acopian, who attended the weekend’s events with members of her family, said the weekend was uplifting. “I found it heartwarming to see the big strides the community has taken since the construction of St. Sarkis Church,” she said. “It was nice to see that the church has become a gathering place for the Armenians in Charlotte , and our family is glad and proud for playing a role in making this happen.”




Photos attached.

Photo 1: Archbishop Barsamian leads a procession during the Divine Liturgy in Charlotte . Assisting him is the parish’s deacon-in-charge Benjamin Rith-Najarian, and other altar servers.

Photo 2: The parish’s children’s dance group performs at the luncheon following services.

Photo 3: The parish presented an award to the Acopian family in recognition of the architectural significance of the sanctuary.

Photo 4: The “St. Vartan” award was presented to longtime parishioner and current parish council chair Hagop Sarkissian.

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