Cheltenham Parish hosts a Con-celebration
By Nadia Soghomonian
The Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Cheltenham, PA hosted the 3rd annual Oriental Orthodox Concelebrated Liturgy of the Philadelphia Region, on Saturday, October 3, marking the first time this event has been hosted by the Armenian community.
“The goal of the event was to bring together the regional Oriental Orthodox faithful for a day of worship and fellowship as a manifestation of our full communion and fraternal unity,” said Holy Trinity’s pastor Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan.
Over 150 of the faithful from seven different Oriental Orthodox parishes (including the Armenian) attended the event, represented by six vested clergy from Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington D.C.
Each year, the hierarchs of the Oriental Orthodox Churches on the East Coast hold a concelebration of the Divine Liturgy. (This year’s will be at St. Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Church in Teaneck, NJ on October 24th). The hierarchs have encouraged local clergy to hold their own concelebrations as well.
“When we started this regional concelebration three years ago, our hope was to give our communities the chance to live out our unity in Our Lord Jesus Christ as Orthodox Christians,” said committee member Deacon Nicholas Siniari from the Coptic Church. “Each year, we rotate among the jurisdictions so that we all have a chance to experience one another’s liturgical traditions and hospitality. It’s truly humbling to experience that real agape love each hosting parish extends to their guests. This year, Holy Trinity really treated the rest of us like family,” he said.
The celebration continued after Liturgy with fellowship including a traditional Armenian luncheon and a presentation by Zohrab Center Director Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan.
Hayr Daniel spoke to the gathering about the extraordinary act of concelebration with these words: Today we witnessed something quite remarkable and rare. We come from different places. We are different colors. We speak different languages. We are moved by different kinds of music. And yet despite these very real differences, today we came together in full and complete unity, concelebrating the Divine Liturgy and sharing real and full Communion of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. That is what God calls us to do: to create unity where there is division, by the power of God in our Lord Jesus Christ, and so to bring His healing into this troubled and fragmented world.”
He then introduced a new video from the Diocese entitled “A Cloud of Witnesses” which discusses the canonization to sainthood of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and reminds us that, as Christians, we are all called to be martyrs in the name of Jesus Christ.
“The Concelebrated Divine Liturgy with our Oriental Orthodox brothers and sisters was a great success. This was not only a unifying opportunity for all faithful who participated,” said Der Hakob, “but also a great way for us to restore the unity and love in our Christian family.”
Participating Clergy and Churches
Rev. Fr. Hakob Gevorgyan of Holy Trinity Armenian Church
V. Rev. F. Oshagan Gulgulian of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Church
Fr. John Bishara of St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church
Fr. Wolde Tinsae Berhane and Fr. Tesfom Abrahale of Medhane Alem Eritrean Orthodox Tewhedo Church
Fr. Joy John of St. Peter’s Malankara-Syriac Orthodox Cathedral