Diocesan Primate Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan with delegates to the Eastern Diocese’s 2024 Women’s Guild Assembly, hosted by St. Mark Church, Springfield, MA. (Photo by Mano Baghjejian)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The 35th annual Assembly of the Women’s Guild of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America held its meetings May 3-4, with 31 delegates representing 17 parishes. The delegates, some of whom were first-time attendees, arrived eager to learn from each other.

Like the 122nd Diocesan Assembly and Clergy Conference that ran concurrently, the Women’s Guild gathering took place in Springfield, hosted by the city’s St. Mark Armenian Church.

Each day of meetings began with a prayer led by Yn. Patricia Buttero. During the first session offers of the assembly were elected, with Sara Andonian elected chair, Buttero as vice chair and Elizabeth Barone as recording secretary. Nancy Kassabian and Yn. Buttero were appointed by the chair as Parliamentarians.

Among the business reports were the minutes from the 34th Assembly, financial reports, auditors’ findings, and the Women’s Guild Central Council (WGCC) reports. Reports had been sent out prior to the Assembly, so the delegates were able to quickly approve all.

Lucy Murad led a report and discussion on the Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program (CASP), the successful ongoing WGCC project that has been supporting orphans in Armenia since the 1990s. The day-to-day administration of CASP is in the process of transitioning to the Fund for Armenian Relief (the Eastern Diocese’s humanitarian relief and development arm in the homeland), while the Diocesan Women’s Guilds will continue to support and promote the program.

A progress report on the WGCC’s work with Armenia’s Vanadzor Old Age Home was delivered by Louisa Bagdasarian.

Bishop Mesrop Parsamyan (Photo by Mano Baghjejian)

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Sharing and Witnessing

Nancy Kassabian organized an interactive activity titled “Sharing is Caring,” in which the delegates were divided into six groups, where each member shared a successful achievement of her local guild, and a challenge it faced. The results of the six lively discussions were reported to the full assembly, where delegates received counsel on such topics as fundraising, service, and women’s ministry, which they could take back to their respective parish guilds.

The Friday morning session occurred in concert with the concurrent Diocesan Assembly gathering, during which Diocesan Primate Bishop Mesrob Parsamyan gave an inspirational message on the theme, “Be My Witnesses.” Orthodox Christian scholar Dr. Ann Bezzerides also gave a presentation on “Witnessing,” after which the Women’s Guild and Assembly delegates together discussed, what it means to witness for Christ.

The Women’s Guild delegates also heard from Sarah Stites of “Ayo,” the crowdsourcing platform of the Fund for Armenian Relief. She related her experiences in Armenia; described how “Ayo” and FAR are helping Armenia’s women with technology education; and discussed how Women’s Guilds could help. In response, the Women’s Guild delegates pledged to give half of its raffle proceeds to “Ayo.”

A mother and child attend services at St. Mark Armenian Church in Springfield. (Photo by Mano Baghjejian)

A highlight of the meeting came when Bishop Mesrob Parsamyan paid an extended to the Women’s Guild Assembly, to spend time with the members and address them on the importance of women in the church.

To conclude the Women’s Guild Assembly on Saturday, May 4, the WGCC held its annual “Woman of Wonder” luncheon, this year honoring Marion Vartaresian, an active parishioner at St. Mark Church in Springfield. A successful “Hye Raffle” led by Liz Barone rounded out the two-day Women’s Guild Assembly.

“We met, broke bread together, discussed, and solved issues,” said Nancy Kassabian, who was elected to chair the Women’s Guild Central Council for 2024-25 during the assembly. “Mostly, we learned that though we come from different churches and different parts of the country, we all have a common goal: sharing our commitment and dedication to the Women’s Guild and its mission to educate, nurture, support, and share our faith.”

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