WASHINGTON–DC–Leaders from America’s Catholic–Protestant and Orthodox Christian communities will gather at Washington’s Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday–May 30–to honor a unique milestone in the history of the Christian religion.
An ecumenical prayer service will mark the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity. The event that took place in A.D. 301 distinguished the Armenia’s as the world’s first Christian nation–preceding the Emperor Constantine’s "Edict of Milan" by a dozen years.
The world’s 7 million Armenian Apostolic Christians are celebrating the anniversary in the Republic of Armenia and throughout the world. The milestone has inspired two of America’s leading Christian organizations–the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA–to join the Armenian Church of America in sponsoring the May 30 event aptly titled "Walking Together in the Light of Our Lord."
The May 30 service was announced this month in a letter signed by Cardinal William H. Keeler–the Archbishop of Baltimore representing the National Conference of Catholic Bishops; Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar–General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian–Primate of the New York-based Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.
The letter announced that His Holiness Karekin II–the Catholicos of the worldwide Armenian Church–would be the honored guest at the May 30 service. Catholicos Karekin II will be in the capital as part of his first pontifical visit to North America.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick–Archbishop of Washington–will host the service. Ambassador Andrew Young–President of the National Council of Churches–and Cardinal Keeler will be the main speakers. A lecture on the history of the Armenian Church will precede the service in the Shrine’s Crypt Church.