In Defense of Christians 2017 Summit Kicks Off with Press Conference Featuring Key Religious Leaders & Program Sponsors; Ecumenical Prayer Service at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral
WASHINGTON—Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian commended In Defense of Christians on a year of progress in protecting Christian communities across the Middle East, while calling on U.S. leaders to elevate America’s response to global suffering, threats to faith, dangers to democracy and diversity worldwide, from the field of politics to the plane of morality.
Hamparian’s remarks came during Tuesday’s inaugural press conference for IDC’s 2017 Summit, “American Leadership and Securing the Future of Christians in the Middle East,” cosponsored by the ANCA, The Philos Project, Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) and the Lebanese Information Center. The press conference began with poignant remarks by His Beatitude Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rai, the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and His Beatitude John Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, moderated by IDC Vice-President and Senior Policy Advisor Andrew Doran.
“We are great when we are good. We are great because we are good,” said Hamparian. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And this is a city full of folks who will try. We need not choose between being strong or just. We can, and must, be both.”
Following the press conference, IDC summit participants gathered at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle for an Ecumenical Prayer Service for Christians in the Middle East. His Excellency Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S. served as celebrant of the prayer service which included the participation of Patriarch al-Rai, Patriarch Yazigi, His Eminence Archbishop Oshagan Choloyan, Prelate of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, and Most Rev. Nicholas James Samra, Bishop of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton. The Service also featured evangelical ecumenical representatives, including Rev. Berdj Djambazian, Minister to the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America and Rev. Johnnie Moore, Founder and CEO of the Kairos Company, along with numerous Apostolic Church Prelates, other clergy and religious leaders.
Internationally acclaimed Lebanese singer Mrs. Abeer Nehme performed moving renditions of Christian hymns in Arabic and Aramaic, a 5,000-year-old Coptic funeral procession song and angelic performances of Giligia and Der Voghormia (Lord Have Mercy).
An IDC Summit supporter since its inception in 2014 and cosponsor since 2016, the ANCA will be lending its voice to a series of policy-driven panel discussions and hands-on advocacy workshops, and meetings with Members of Congress on October 25th and 26th. The convention’s advocacy agenda features strong support for a just resolution of the Armenian Genocide, and will include lobbying visits in support of H.Res.220, a bipartisan measure seeks to apply the lessons of the Armenian Genocide in preventing new atrocities across the Middle East.
ANCA representatives will be making presentations throughout the conference, which will focus on the following advocacy priorities: 1) Security and stability in Lebanon, 2) Emergency relief for Victims of genocide in Iraq and Syria, 3) Allies and Accountability in the Middle East, 4) Recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and 5) Legal punishment for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other perpetrators of genocide.
The IDC Solidarity Dinner, to be held Wednesday evening, October 25th, will include keynote remarks by Vice-President Mike Pence and will offer special honors to long-time human rights champion Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ).
For up to the minute coverage of the IDC conference, follow the ANCA’s Facebook (anca.org/facebook) and Twitter (anca.org/twitter) and news items in The Armenian Weekly, Asbarez News and other Armenian news outlets.