BY ANAHID ANNA PINEDJIAN
LOS ANGELES—The 68th Annual Name Day celebration of the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church of Los Angeles was held on Sunday, December 13. It was sponsored by the pastor and parish council of the church and was headed by Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. It was an exciting day bringing families, friends and parishioners together to enjoy the celebration of Divine Liturgy with the blessings and consecration of the khachkars (stone crosses) were later followed by a gala lunch and cultural program in the church’s Gogian Hall. The day’s observance began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy and deliverance of a bilingual sermon by Archbishop Derderian. The Primate also remembered the deceased members of the church with a requiem service.
Following the liturgy, the congregation, led by Archbishop Derderian, went in a solemn procession to the site of the khachkars which were placed in the four corners of the church courtyard. Then, the Primate conducted the ritual ceremonies of the consecration of the khachkars by anointing each one of the stone crosses with Holy Muron with the prayers from the clergy. The Primate continued on to bless the newly renovated nursery room, which was made possible through the benefaction of Sub-Deacon Dr. and Mrs. Raffi Barsam, son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Barsam.
After the ritual ceremonies, the participating faithful were invited to the church’s Gogian Hall and were warmly welcomed by George Mardikian, who served as Master of Ceremonies.
Archbishop Derderian was then invited to offer the invocation for the lunch. He blessed the tables and in his remarks reflected on the significant role of St. James in the Armenian Church and explained that the purpose of commemorating St. James is to revive the tradition connected with the Christian faith. The Primate expressed his joy and pride and said, “I am very happy to be with you on this particular day because we are honoring Daniel Akarakian with the Hye Spirit Award for dedicating many years of service to our church.” In his comments, his Eminence emphasized the importance of the khachkars and made an emotional reference to the fact that the stone of the khachkars have been brought from Karabakh where many have sacrificed their lives for the sake of the homeland. This becomes an inspiration for each of us to strive and lead life upon the cross for salvation. His Eminency also mentioned the importance of the contribution by the congregation in completing the construction of the Mother Cathedral in Burbank. The Primate, in his closing remarks, expressed words of appreciation to Hagop Pinedjian for donating a handcrafted cruciform letter of the Armenian alphabet to the church. He also extended his gratitude to the supporters of the Church Fund. His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian thanked the banquet committee for organized the 68th Annual Name Day Celebration, along with Father Arshag Khatchadourian and the parish council.
During lunch, the audience enjoyed a variety of musical performances. The entertainment included a performance by junior vocalist Sona Nalbandyan, 11, who preformed a song and Ani Sinanyan, 9, who played several pieces on the violin. Both young artists are the first place award winners in the children’s category in Musical Performances in the Church. The conductor of the church choir, Manik Manukyan, with her powerful voice, performed a number of songs, inspiring the audience to show their appreciation with joyful applause.
The program continued with the parish council chairman, Deacon Dr. Sarkis Mesrobian. In his remarks, he provided a relevant explanation of the commemoration of the St. James 68th Name Day Anniversary and said, “there is historical fact he (St. James) was participating with Catholicos Aristakes who had been the representative of the Armenian Church at the Council of Nicaea 325 AB. From that time the truth of Christian doctrine set forth historically and was established verifiably in the Nicene Creed (Havadamk). We cannot go around in interpreting this historic truth, according to our momentary likes and dislikes, we cannot call to create our own brand of Christianity. It is an essential duty to embark on the right path of our faith, accepting the historic truth to live and convey its peculiarity to the next generation.”
Archpriest Father Arshag Khatchadourian, St. James parish priest offered words of praise and said, “on this occasion of the annual St. James Name Day celebration, we are very privileged and pleased to have Archbishop Derderian join with us on this religious and cultural program and our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for being here with his enthusiasm and encouragement. We wish him good health to lead the Armenian Church of the Western Diocese.” The banquet concluded with the Primate’s benediction and those attending returned to their home spiritually uplifted.