Based on the calendar, it’s springtime! Wait…don’t look outdoors. Just think about what spring is outlined as. With the timber and crops shedding their seasonal slumber, we’re reminded that it is a time of renewal—a recent start. It’s the season that we rejoice the resurrection of our Lord and a time of nice hope.
I really feel this manner about our beloved and venerable Armenian church. Name me a hopeless optimist. Our religion is all about hope. You say (and I have also) that our church is in decline—falling attendance at parishes and Sunday Faculty, monetary issues and the problem of an ever growing secular society. All true, but still I’ve hope because I consider that with prayer and dedication we will meet our challenges and construct a brighter future.
I even have hope due to two necessary individuals: Bishop Daniel and Archbishop Anoushavan. With due respect to the previous, I haven’t been this excited concerning the potential of our leadership in the japanese US in a few years. All leaders, particularly these in our group, are graced with a “honeymoon” period for transitions and learning curves. Both of these high quality men have been elected at their respective assemblies (we’ll depart the unity problem aside for now) one yr in the past. For Anoushavan Surpazan, his transition was less eventful since his prior position was vicar of the Prelacy. For Daniel Surpazan (seems like we’ve been ready a long time to say that), it was a unique path. He was just consecrated a bishop of the church this previous week, so his first yr as Primate was as “Hayr” Daniel. However, each are longtime members of their dioceses and have simply completed their transitional yr marked by each presiding over their respective assemblies this month.
With hope and optimism come expectations—excessive expectations. The hope that I and lots of others share is predicated on two causes: the qualities of these men and the inherent position of clergy, notably celibate clergy in our church. As leaders, they both have the power to encourage. For my part, this is an important attribute of a public chief. Both Surpazans have an extended history of educating, motivating and galvanizing younger individuals. I keep in mind when Daniel Surpazan was elected a yr ago, there was an pleasure among the young individuals in our parish. They have had an exquisite relationship with him for years by way of the St. Nersess packages. Anoushavan Surpazan exemplified an identical narrative via the St. Gregory of Datev summer time program.
What do the trustworthy want and need from our clergy leaders? They need to be inspired. They need their church to be relevant, they usually need to have approachable leaders. In our specific church, the Diocesan Primate/Prelate has monumental authority. By definition, our clergymen are the presiding individuals over all features of the church. Usually speaking, the lay bodies on church matters accede to the knowledge of the Primate/Prelate. There are solely two issues that may undermine that authority: a scarcity of consensus within our administrative our bodies and actions by the Vehapar to regulate the authority of the Diocesan bishop. We have now experienced each limitations in our current historical past. It is vitally necessary that neither limit the tenure of those leaders.
In fact this doesn’t preclude wholesome conflict and debate. In the case of our Diocesan bishops, it’s essential that the lay leaders, clergymen and the Vehapars help these people by letting them do their job. With everybody’s help, we might get the easiest of their capabilities. Our bishops are beneath vital strain from a diverse group. Settlement may be difficult. I might recommend we do our utmost to help these leaders as a reflection of the arrogance we had in electing them. Empowering them with our help will encourage applicable risk-taking.
The Armenian church shouldn’t be a case of “if it’s not broken, don’t repair it.” We frequently say that we have to be investing for the longer term. But what exactly does that mean? I might make clear it by saying we should spend money on ways in which deliver the youngest two generations to the church. This is where the void is, however it isn’t where we spend nearly all of our time and assets.
What we’d like from our leaders is to be change brokers.
For example, each Might each dioceses maintain their annual assemblies. It’s the highest legislative unit of the diocese. It is empowered to hold elections for the Prelate/Primate and Diocesan councils, move budgets and enact packages for the diocese. But when you look at a typical meeting agenda or truly attend one, there are only a few tangible gadgets that one might say immediately affect parish life. These assemblies, whether or not the Prelacy NRA or the Diocesan Meeting, deliver together an unimaginable array of talent, dedication and dedication. But they often take on the position of a grand reunion of people who sincerely love their church and each other, but have little legislative or monetary influence on parishes. For years as a delegate to both assemblies, I might wrestle with how one can convey the content and output of the assemblies to a parish group coping with the struggles of attendance, schooling and funds. Yes, elections are held and budgets are handed, but concrete measures to reverse decline simply by no means occur. The deliberations are riddled with formalities, “company” dialogue on the “headquarters” and infinite reviews of current history. The mundane hours resemble more of a rubber stamp board meeting than an trustworthy evaluate of our challenges. These assemblies are designed to create goodwill and photograph alternatives, however general, they modify little in an establishment that wants revision. It isn’t an efficient use of our assets. It turns right into a “feel good” session for our shrinking core. I consider our leadership can alter that equation and create the processes to assessment our challenges and implement techniques which have an actual influence.
What we’d like from our leaders is to be change brokers. Rebuilding our Sunday faculties, efficient outreach to non-Armenian spouses and growing membership are all actual problems that our leaders have the authority to influence. A diocese starts with a parish. A diocese exists due to the parishes it nurtures. A diocese doesn’t have a function without viable parishes. These primary ideas ruled the establishment of the diocese of the Armenian church on the shut of the 19th century. The identical need led to the creation of the Prelacy in 1956. It has all the time been parishes that led to the creation of dioceses. This principle ought to guide our each action as we proceed the sacred mission of the Armenian church. The “corporate” construction may be on the prime of the pyramid, however the local parishes safe a strong foundation that’s essential to sustainability.
My sense is that we’ve lost some elements of the recipe based mostly on how we spend our time and allocate assets. The centralized mannequin of each dioceses must be reviewed for its effectiveness. The issue isn’t with the packages, however moderately with their consistent execution in the parishes. A decentralized model the place assets reside within the regions of the parishes would afford us the opportunity to work together each day on-site to seek out solutions. Coaching professionals to attract parishioners, constructing youth packages and strengthening stewardship would relieve many parishes of the spiral many are in. I empathize with the devoted servants of our dioceses who deserve better outcomes for his or her dedication.
Perhaps we might start with a pilot program in New England the place the density of parishes would make it manageable to determine the useful resource base and measure outcomes. We’ve an excellent product. We simply want to enhance our advertising. There’s some excellent news in that our church has succeeded in creating a number of highly profitable immersion packages corresponding to St. Vartan Camp, St. Nersess Summer time Studies and the Datev Institute. These packages are educating commitment and life expertise to an emerging era. They are very efficient, however they’re reaching a relatively small audience. Our imaginative and prescient have to be to double these packages each seven to ten years. These are probably the most instrumental packages we now have for our future. As an alternative of simply listening to reviews, the Diocesan councils and assemblies should have the vision to broaden and spend money on our future.
The standard concern is how one can fund these efforts. We should convince our benefactors that investing in the subsequent era is our main focus. We seem to have the ability to increase substantial funds for anniversaries, pontifical visits and cultural actions. I’m sure with the willpower of our leadership we will spend money on a regional construction that delivers results and expands immersion packages to information our youth. The methods that introduced us right here as we speak will not be essentially the ones that may ensure tomorrow.
These are supposed to be just some examples of what is attainable. Imagine the chances if we give attention to options. Our conservative strategies look extra like an establishment making an attempt to take care of the status quo versus one which understands the challenges we face. That is the truth of the diaspora. The partaking fashion of our present religious leaders ought to create optimism that they may exercise their authority in a fashion that may considerably profit the future of our church. Our job, as group members, local clergymen, trustworthy parishioners and the rising era, is to encourage them with our concepts, our participation and our prayers. Leaders are typically criticized for inaction. On this season of renewal, allow us to keep in mind that typically it is the voices of the followers that empower the leaders.