LOS ANGELES—As we approach the holiest of days on the Christian calendar, a growing number of world religious leaders have called on people of good conscience throughout the United States to hold a National Day of Prayer on Sunday, April 24 in honor of Easter and in commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
In an April 14 statement, the World Council of Churches called on its member churches to join with Armenians on April 24 in a National Day of Prayer. “When Christians all over the world celebrate Easter on the same date this year, it will be an historic opportunity for all of us to pay tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide,” said the appeal. “As the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian people observe the 96th year of the Armenian Genocide, the World Council of Churches and the Conference of Churches in Europe appeal to all member churches to commemorate the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide during their prayers and messages on Easter day 2011.”
The complete text can be read here or below.
Armenian American religious leaders issued an appeal last week urging people of all faiths to pray with the Armenian nation on April 24. “As children of the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, on this Holy Day of Easter, we call upon our Christian brothers and sisters as well as people of all faiths to pray with us for the two million Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Pontians, and Greeks, who fell victim to the Ottoman Empire’s World War I-era genocide of its Christian minorities, and for justice and peace to prevail in our world,” said the statement, signed by Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Very Reverend Father Krikor Chahinian, and Reverend Joseph D. Matossian.
The Armenian National Committee of America welcomed the statement by the World Council of Churches, and the appeal by Armenian American religious leaders. “We welcome the leadership of our faith community in calling for a National Day of Prayer this Easter that celebrates the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his earthly death upon the cross, and also marks the rebirth of the Armenians and other Christian nations after their near destruction in the fires of hatred that consumed them in the Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
This year, in a startling irony, Easter Sunday falls on April 24 – the day on which the world will commemorate the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923, when nearly 2 million Armenians were massacred by Ottoman Turkey.
A Facebook page – Resurrection and Recognition: National Day of Prayer on April 24 – has been launched. Facebook members can join the page by going to facebook.com/dayofprayer and clicking “Like,” then sharing the page with their friends. Efforts are also underway to enlist the support and participation of non-Armenian Christian churches and organizations throughout the United States.
For more information, visit here.
Complete text of World Council of Churches statement is below:
Message for the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day
Easter, the glorious Day of Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, falls this year on April 24 which coincides with Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. For the first time since 1915 April 24 falls on Easter Sunday in the Armenian Church calendar. It is truly a meaningful coincidence, as the existence of the Armenian nation and people itself is a special sign of the power of the resurrection in a world of death. When Christians all over the world celebrate Easter on the same date this year, it will be an historic opportunity for all of us to pay tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide.
As the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian people observe the 96th year of the Armenian Genocide, the World Council of Churches and the Conference of Churches in Europe appeal to all member churches to commemorate the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide during their prayers and messages on Easter day 2011.
The World Council of Churches has addressed the need for public recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In 1984 the WCC published a document called “Armenia: the Continuing Tragedy” which helped in making known the history and plight of the Armenian people. The Commission of the Churches on International Affairs raised the issue of the Armenian Genocide in the UN Commission on Human Rights with reference to the latter’s “Revised and Updated Report on the Question of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”. As was stated at the 2005 WCC Central Committee meeting, the WCC believes that, “from the Christian perspective, the path towards justice and reconciliation requires the recognition of the crime committed as a sine qua non condition for the healing of memories and the possibility of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting but to look back with the intention to restore justice, the respect for human rights and relationships between perpetrators and victims.”
In a public statement of 11 April 2005, the Presidium of the Conference of European Churches joined the World Council of Churches in inviting all its member churches “to make April 24 a Day of Memory of the Armenian Genocide and to consider further appropriate actions related to the 90 years Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide”. The CEC Presidium further urged “the Turkish government to initiate a process of reconciliation between the Turkish and the Armenian peoples, in which the recognition of guilt and the proclamation of the truth need to be integral elements.”
In this spirit, as we approach Easter Sunday this year, we call upon all brothers and sisters of faith in Jesus Christ to join with the Armenian people in offering prayers for Armenians and other victims of genocide.
Let us be reminded of what Christ has said,
“I am the Resurrection and I am the Life.
Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25).
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches
Rev. Prof. Dr Viorel Ionita
Interim General Secretary
Conference of European Churches