AKHALKALAK, Javakhk (Hetq)—The newly built Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Church opened its doors on April 22 to hundreds of the faithful at a consecration ceremony in Gumburdo, a village in Georgia’s Akhalkalak region.
“This is the 50th church built and reopened in Samtskhe-Javakheti since 2001,” said Father Babgen Salbiyan, Vicar General of the Samtskhe-Javakheti and Tzalka Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.
Church construction was financed by local residents, Khacho and Sayad Saharyan.
Gumburdo, located nine kilometers from the town of Akhalkalak, is one of the largest villages in the Akhalkalaki region. The road is currently paved with sand and soon to be asphalted.
Holy Ascension, another church in Gumburdo, was built and consecrated in 946 by Bishop Hovhannes. Georgians claim it to be theirs. The matter has caused disputes between local Armenians and Georgians.
Georgia’s Cultural Heritage Protection Agency is in the process of restoring the cross-dome style church. Hamlet Movsisyan, head of the Akhalkalaki Regional Council, says that they aim to develop tourism here.
Residents are proud to mention that although there are people who leave Gumburdo to work abroad, the number isn’t high. There are around 2,800 inhabitants in the village and more than 330 children attend the school.
After the liturgy, the sacrificial meal was shared with those in attendance.