Archbishop Ordains Acolytes, Deacons at St. Sarkis in Dallas

17 February 2017

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, visited St. Sarkis Church in Carrollton, TX, from February 10 to 12, as the parish celebrated its name day. The visit occurred as the parish is taking a bold step into its future.

During the Primate's visit, he met with a number of parish organizations. On February 10, he met with AYP (Armenian Young Professionals) at the home of parishioner Lusine Meeks to discuss what challenges they have and how the church can be a greater part in their lives. On February 11, he met with the ACYOA Juniors and Seniors, with the St. Sarkis School Board, and the Women's Guild. The organizations provided updates on their respective ministries and the Primate spoke about the Diocesan Department of Creative Ministries' recent ventures, including the "Bread and Salt: Stories from the Armenian Church" video series.

The Primate ordained five acolytes and two deacons as part of his visit, honoring the church's name day and the 26th anniversary of its consecration.

During a Saturday evening service, the Primate ordained Armen, Serop and Tateos Rea, Isaac Sandoval, and Michael Minassian to the rank of acolyte. Archbishop Barsamian impressed upon the new acolytes their duty to keep the church safe and clean, and shine the light of Christian faith in their daily lives.

The next day, the Primate celebrated the Divine Liturgy, with St. Sarkis pastor Rev. Fr. Ghevond Ajamian assisting him. Rev. Fr. Mikael Devejian also participated in the service.

During the <em>badarak</em>, Daron Bolat and Njteh Keleshian were ordained as deacons. The Primate blessed the two new deacons and lauded their leadership that led them to serve the Armenian Church. In his sermon he spoke about the meaning of the cross: a symbol of faith, hope, love and sacrifice, even under the most difficult circumstances.

After the Divine Liturgy, the congregation gathered in the St. Sarkis cultural hall, where parishioner Barbara Kourajian was honored as "Steward of the Year."

In honoring the church anniversary and name day, Archbishop Barsamian offered congratulations to all the parishioners, "especially to those named ‘Sarkis'-like the godfather of this church, Dr. Sarkis Kechejian, and its long-serving deacon Sarkis Altunian."

During the weekend, the Primate also met with the St. Sarkis Building Committee to look over the progress of the parish's new church complex, which will be built nearby in Carrollton. Archbishop Barsamian visited the prospective church site in May 2016, celebrating the Divine Liturgy during the groundbreaking and cornerstone-blessing for the new complex.

Following the Primate's 2016 visit, preparations began for construction on the 4.5-square acre property. Some 400 truckloads of dirt were delivered at the start of the foundation work. Construction on the new St. Sarkis Church is slated to begin in mid-March. Archbishop Barsamian expressed gratitude to the building committee for its progress.

<em>"</em>This project is inspired by our traditions to invoke an architecturally and spiritually unique experience," said St. Sarkis Building Committee member Elie Akilian.

St. Sarkis Church was established in March 1980 as a mission parish in the Eastern Diocese. At first, the parish centered around a weekly Armenian school and scheduled mission visits by Rev. Fr. Nersess Jebejian. The community sought to build its own church when Armenians migrated to North Texas from the Middle East in the late 1970s and early 1980s, seeking a place to gather and worship. As the community grew, a group of motivated individuals stepped forward and pursued the establishment of a church.

St. Sarkis has been at its current location since 1990, when the parish purchased a parcel of land that included an abandoned house from the previous owner. The parish converted the old house into a sanctuary that was consecrated by Archbishop Barsamian in November 1991.

As more Armenians moved to the Dallas Metroplex region during the 1990s, the parish grew accordingly. A cultural hall with classrooms for the Sunday School and Armenian language Saturday School was built and opened in 1995. Parish organizations, including the Women's Guild, Seniors Group and ACYOA, contributed to the vibrancy of the growing community by hosting numerous events, such as the 2004 ACYOA General Assembly and Sports Weekend and the annual food and cultural festival ArmeniaFest. These organizations continue to stay active to this day.

Currently, more than 500 families attend St. Sarkis Church.

"The Dallas St. Sarkis community continues to grow every year due to an influx of Armenians from overseas and from other states across this country," said Dr. Vahe Dayian, St. Sarkis parish council chair. "Even though our parishioners come from varying backgrounds, our successes have been due to "a feeling of family" centered around St. Sarkis Church."

Archbishop Barsamian left Dallas very impressed with the parish's progress. "It is a joy to see the St. Sarkis parish grow from its humble beginnings into a dynamic church in the Eastern Diocese," said the Primate. "The building of a new sanctuary and church complex marks the start of a new era for the Armenian community of Dallas, that has come together with strong faith and love for one another. I congratulate Fr. Ghevond and the parish for all their accomplishments."

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