BEIRUT — On Thursday, May 31, the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut was the site of a banquet in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). Organized by the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE), the event brought together more than 220 people, including Armenian Evangelical ministers from the U.S., Australia, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, Haigazian University trustees, AMAA board members, the Bishop Shahe Panossian, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Prelacy of Lebanon, a representative of the Armenian Catholic Church, the Ambassador of Armenia in Lebanon, the mayor of Bourj Hammoud, heads of the three Armenian political parties in Lebanon, representatives of a variety of organizations and unions, and many guests.
The program opened with a word of welcome from the Vice-Chair of Haigazian University’s trustees, John Sagherian, followed by the opening prayer offered by Rev. Nishan Bakalian.
AMAA President Dr. Nazareth Darakjian in turn offered the association’s greetings, recalling the importance of 1918 for the Armenian people, who had barely survived the massacres, who had declared the independence of the first Armenian republic, while at the same time in the United States, a group of Armenian Evangelicals were founding the AMAA in order to reach out to the decimated and demoralized survivors of the Genocide. The AMAA worked at rebuilding the educational institutions and churches of the Armenian people, and in 1988 established that same effort in the homeland, following the earthquake there. Therefore, as Darakjian put it, the year 2018 is a year to celebrate the centennial of the rebirth of the Armenian people at every level.
The banquet attendees were treated to the lovely voice of Central High School and Haigazian University graduate Alice Ipradjian, who sang, Savior, Thy Dying Love and Doun im hayreni.
Zaven Khanjian, executive director/CEO of the AMAA, expressed how the AMAA was a part of the strengthening and rebuilding of Armenia following its 1991 independence, also extending to Artsakh (Karabakh) and the needs there.
As the crowd enjoyed dinner and conversation around the tables, guitarist Raffi Mandalian and his ensemble performed an eclectic mix of adaptations of Armenian folk tunes along with jazz and popular standards.