Pictured here (l-r) in the tahlij of the Diocesan Center: Bishop Irinej (Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Eastern America); Bishop Paul Egensteiner (Metropolitan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America); Archbishop Demetrios (Greek Orthodox Church); Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan(Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America); Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York); Bishop James Massa (St. Joseph’s Catholic Seminary); Archbishop Mor Dionysius John Kawak(Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of the Eastern U.S.A.); and Bishop David (Coptic Orthodox Bishop of New York and New England). Photo Gallery (credit Harout Barsoumian, Bars Images)

St. Vartan Cathedral Hosts NYC’s Annual Prayer for Christian Unity


NEW YORK — Distinguished church leaders from throughout New York City gathered at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral on Thursday evening, January 25, for the city’s annual “Prayer Service for Christian Unity.”

The Eastern Diocese hosted this year’s gathering as part of its celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. Diocesan Primate Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan welcomed guests from more than a dozen Christian traditions — Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox — to the Diocese’s mother cathedral, which was enveloped in scaffolding as it undergoes an exterior restoration.

Pastor Gilford Monrose from the Office of the Mayor of New York, Executive Director of Faith-Based Partnerships (credit Harout Barsoumian, Bars Images)

Inside, a spirit of warm collegiality prevailed among the clergy and faithful of various churches — many of them longtime friends of the Armenian cathedral, others visiting for the first time.

Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church delivered a powerful homily based on the theme for this year’s Unity service, drawn from the Gospel of Luke: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul; with all your strength, and all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27).

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, offered closing remarks and an uplifting benediction.

Religious leaders listen as Bishop Parsamyan speaks. (credit Harout Barsoumian, Bars Images)

Among the other dignitaries in attendance were Archbishop Demetrios (Greek Orthodox Church), Archbishop Mor Dionysius John Kawak (Syriac Orthodox Church), Bishop David (Coptic Orthodox Church), Bishop Paul Egensteiner (Evangelical Lutheran Church), Fr. Chad Hatfield (representing Metropolitan Tikhon), Fr. Sahag Yemishian (representing Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian), Rev. Julie Hoplamazian (representing Bishop Matthew Heyd), Rev. Nicolas Kazarian (representing Archbishop Elpidophoros) — and other brothers and sisters from the broad range of Christian traditions in the metropolitan area.

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Bishop Mesrop set a tone of harmony and hope in his welcoming words. “On top of the cathedral—hidden from view now, but still pulsing with power—is the Cross: the great symbol of our Unity as Christians, and of God’s love,” he said. “Grounded in the earth, but reaching up to Heaven; extending its arms out to each side, as if to join hands with our neighbors. The Cross is the very image of the beautiful Gospel verse that is our theme for tonight…. Needless to say, our quest for true Unity is more urgent than ever. Because Christian unity is the foundation for—and indeed the road to—the unity of all mankind. Without the one, we cannot even hope for the other.”

A reception in Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium followed the service. The event was part of the annual “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” which has been a feature of New York’s religious life since 1908.


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