In response to the calendar, it’s springtime! Wait…don’t look outdoors. Simply imagine what spring is outlined as. With the timber and crops shedding their seasonal slumber, we’re reminded that it is a time of renewal—a recent begin. It is the season that we rejoice the resurrection of our Lord and a time of nice hope.
I feel this manner about our beloved and venerable Armenian church. Call me a hopeless optimist. Our religion is all about hope. You say (and I have additionally) that our church is in decline—falling attendance at parishes and Sunday Faculty, financial problems and the challenge of an ever growing secular society. All true, but nonetheless I’ve hope because I consider that with prayer and dedication we will meet our challenges and construct a brighter future.
I even have hope because of two necessary people: Bishop Daniel and Archbishop Anoushavan. With due respect to the previous, I haven’t been this excited concerning the potential of our management within the japanese US in many years. All leaders, particularly these in our group, are graced with a “honeymoon” interval for transitions and learning curves. Both of these high-quality males have been elected at their respective assemblies (we’ll depart the unity situation apart for now) one yr ago. For Anoushavan Surpazan, his transition was less eventful since his prior place was vicar of the Prelacy. For Daniel Surpazan (seems like we’ve got been waiting a long time to say that), it was a totally different path. He was just consecrated a bishop of the church this past week, so his first yr as Primate was as “Hayr” Daniel. However, each are longtime members of their dioceses and have simply completed their transitional yr marked by each presiding over their respective assemblies this month.
With hope and optimism come expectations—high expectations. The hope that I and many others share is predicated on two reasons: the qualities of these men and the inherent position of clergy, notably celibate clergy in our church. As leaders, they each have the power to inspire. For my part, that is an important attribute of a public leader. Both Surpazans have a lengthy historical past of educating, motivating and inspiring younger individuals. I keep in mind when Daniel Surpazan was elected a yr in the past, there was an pleasure among the many younger individuals in our parish. They have had a fantastic relationship with him for years by means of the St. Nersess packages. Anoushavan Surpazan exemplified a comparable narrative via the St. Gregory of Datev summer time program.
What do the trustworthy want and want from our clergy leaders? They need to be impressed. They want their church to be related, and they need to have approachable leaders. In our specific church, the Diocesan Primate/Prelate has monumental authority. By definition, our clergymen are the presiding individuals over all features of the church. Usually talking, the lay bodies on church issues accede to the knowledge of the Primate/Prelate. There are solely two issues that may undermine that authority: a lack of consensus inside our administrative bodies and actions by the Vehapar to regulate the authority of the Diocesan bishop. We now have skilled each limitations in our current historical past. It is vitally essential that neither restrict the tenure of these leaders.
In fact this doesn’t preclude wholesome battle and debate. In the case of our Diocesan bishops, it’s important that the lay leaders, clergymen and the Vehapars help these individuals by letting them do their job. With everyone’s help, we might get the easiest of their capabilities. Our bishops are beneath vital strain from a numerous group. Agreement could be challenging. I might recommend we do our utmost to help these leaders as a reflection of the arrogance we had in electing them. Empowering them with our help will encourage applicable risk-taking.
The Armenian church isn’t a case of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” We frequently say that we have to be investing for the longer term. However what precisely does that mean? I might clarify it by saying we should spend money on ways that deliver the youngest two generations to the church. That is the place the void is, however it isn’t where we spend the bulk of our time and assets.
What we’d like from our leaders is to be change agents.
For instance, each Might both dioceses hold their annual assemblies. It’s the highest legislative unit of the diocese. It is empowered to hold elections for the Prelate/Primate and Diocesan councils, cross budgets and enact packages for the diocese. Yet in the event you look at a typical meeting agenda or truly attend one, there are very few tangible gadgets that one might say immediately influence parish life. These assemblies, whether or not the Prelacy NRA or the Diocesan Assembly, convey together an unimaginable array of talent, dedication and commitment. But they often take on the position of a grand reunion of people who sincerely love their church and one another, however have little legislative or monetary influence on parishes. For years as a delegate to each assemblies, I might wrestle with learn how to convey the content and output of the assemblies to a parish group coping with the struggles of attendance, schooling and funds. Sure, elections are held and budgets are passed, however concrete measures to reverse decline simply never occur. The deliberations are riddled with formalities, “corporate” dialogue on the “headquarters” and countless stories of current historical past. The mundane hours resemble extra of a rubber stamp board assembly than an trustworthy evaluation of our challenges. These assemblies are designed to create goodwill and photograph opportunities, but general, they modify little in an establishment that wants revision. It isn’t an efficient use of our assets. It turns into a “feel good” session for our shrinking core. I consider our management can alter that equation and create the processes to evaluate our challenges and implement techniques that have a real influence.
What we’d like from our leaders is to be change agents. Rebuilding our Sunday faculties, effective outreach to non-Armenian spouses and growing membership are all actual issues that our leaders have the authority to impression. A diocese starts with a parish. A diocese exists as a result of of the parishes it nurtures. A diocese doesn’t have a objective with out viable parishes. These primary concepts ruled the institution of the diocese of the Armenian church on the close of the 19th century. The identical want led to the creation of the Prelacy in 1956. It has all the time been parishes that led to the creation of dioceses. This precept should guide our each action as we continue the sacred mission of the Armenian church. The “corporate” structure may be at the prime of the pyramid, but the local parishes secure a strong foundation that is essential to sustainability.
My sense is that we now have misplaced some elements of the recipe based mostly on how we spend our time and allocate assets. The centralized model of each dioceses must be reviewed for its effectiveness. The problem just isn’t with the packages, but slightly with their consistent execution in the parishes. A decentralized model where assets reside within the areas of the parishes would afford us the chance to work together on a day by day foundation on-site to seek out solutions. Training professionals to attract parishioners, building youth packages and strengthening stewardship would relieve many parishes of the spiral many are in. I empathize with the devoted servants of our dioceses who deserve higher results for their dedication.
Maybe we might begin with a pilot program in New England where the density of parishes would make it manageable to determine the useful resource base and measure outcomes. We have now a good product. We simply want to improve our advertising. There’s some excellent information in that our church has succeeded in creating several highly successful immersion packages akin to St. Vartan Camp, St. Nersess Summer time Studies and the Datev Institute. These packages are educating dedication and life expertise to an rising era. They are very efficient, however they’re reaching a comparatively small viewers. Our imaginative and prescient have to be to double these packages every seven to 10 years. These are probably the most instrumental packages we’ve for our future. As an alternative of simply listening to reviews, the Diocesan councils and assemblies should have the vision to broaden and spend money on our future.
The standard concern is tips on how to fund these efforts. We must convince our benefactors that investing in the subsequent era is our main focus. We seem to have the ability to increase substantial funds for anniversaries, pontifical visits and cultural actions. I am certain with the willpower of our management we will spend money on a regional construction that delivers results and expands immersion packages to information our youth. The methods that brought us here at the moment usually are not essentially the ones that may guarantee tomorrow.
These are supposed to be just a few examples of what is feasible. Think about the chances if we give attention to solutions. Our conservative methods look extra like an institution making an attempt to take care of the established order versus one that understands the challenges we face. That is the truth of the diaspora. The partaking type of our present religious leaders ought to create optimism that they may exercise their authority in a manner that may significantly benefit the longer term of our church. Our job, as group members, local clergymen, trustworthy parishioners and the emerging era, is to encourage them with our concepts, our participation and our prayers. Leaders are typically criticized for inaction. On this season of renewal, let us keep in mind that typically it is the voices of the followers that empower the leaders.