On Wednesday 10 June, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan formally received a delegation led by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, who introduced the visiting leadership of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC): Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Metropolitan Dr Gennadios of Sassima and Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, vice-moderators, and the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.
In recognition of centenary observances throughout 2015 and at the invitation of the Catholicos, the 20-member WCC executive committee is holding the first of their two meetings this year near Yerevan at the church centre in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The session lasts from 8 to 12 June.
President Sargsyan expressed to his guests the importance of the activities of the World Council of Churches, of which the Armenian Apostolic Church has been a member for more than half a century. The president expressed his gratitude for the council’s caring attitude towards issues of Armenian concern, and extended gratitude to the council which officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1983.
Dr Agnes Abuom said “We are grateful to be here and to commemorate the victims and the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. The church has been the pillar of strength and brings hope for the future.”
Abuom emphasized: “We are grateful that you, the state and the church, working closely together, focus on the needs of the Armenian people. This is a good example. We are all working for peaceful existence and a peaceful world.“
Abuom added, “In this centenary year, we call the international community, the WCC’s member churches and all people of faith and good will to remembrance, and to re-commit to the prevention of genocide and all crimes against humanity.”
The Armenian president stressed “the special significance of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church to our people, which always served as a centre for preservation of national identity in default of Armenian statehood”. According to the president, the state and the church continue to cooperate closely after the restoration of independence to ensure development and prosperity for the Armenian people and the Republic of Armenia.
The president also underlined the importance of the WCC mission to work on promoting religious tolerance.
Karekin II expressed his gratitude to the president for his constant commitment to the churches and for the courage to lead the nation in tackling all kind of challenges.
The leaders of the World Council of Churches thanked President Serzh Sargsyan for the meeting and all the hospitality that has been shown since the delegation arrived in Armenia.
The WCC, with its member churches, has participated in several events marking the centenary, including the official commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and canonization of the martyrs in Yerevan, Armenia, on 21-25 April. The WCC and its member churches will continue to participate in the ongoing centennial commemorations this year throughout the Armenian diaspora, including observances hosted by the Armenian Church’s Holy See of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, on 18-19 July.
President receives delegation of WCC Executive Committee (Press release 10 June 2015)
WCC Executive Committee gathers in Armenia to map the ecumenical pilgrimage (WCC press release 09 June 2015)