Armenian Church Christianity Diaspora gender equality news Patriarchy Religion Stepan Piligian

Women and the Armenian Church: Breaking the Patriarchal Barriers

Women and the Armenian Church: Breaking the Patriarchal Barriers
Photograph: St. Stephen’s Armenian Apostolic Church

Once we think about the pillars of our communal life, the Armenian household is an obvious selection—a supply of delight via the centuries as a bonding agent for our sustainability, continuity and values. The household was the supply of building and maintaining a career. Multiple generations from the clan have been docs, merchants, farmers, jewelers or pharmacists. Armenians have taken delight in themselves as builders and contractors. The listing of Armenian pioneers in schooling, know-how, drugs and business is spectacular. Households have been famous for his or her expertise and are respected by their peers. Within the diaspora, it was the Armenian family that transferred the roots from the homeland to their adopted nation. Although the branches of the tree have been reduce by genocide, Armenians have all the time taken great satisfaction in their family relationships with extended household thought-about a singular unit.

Indeed, the family is deeply rooted as a part of our culture. But if you set the bar high, as we’ve got from a social and professional perspective, you additionally carry the duty of fairness in equality. On the core of our families has been the enduring power of Armenian ladies. The patriarchal traditions over the generations have limited the alternatives of girls relative to financial independence, positions of authority and family construction. Males have traditionally adopted the management position and taken on more authoritative duties, but without the affect of Armenian ladies behind-the-scenes and the household models that they’ve created and sustained, our lifestyle would have primarily faltered. Our patriarchal traditions, while static, have continued nicely past the advances of western society.

Particularly from a human rights viewpoint, it is the conscience of the oppressed that has continued to problem humanity to raised itself. Western historical past within the final 200 years has experienced the emergence and maturation of democracy while confronting such human stains as overt racism and hunger. Clearly progress has been exhausting fought and remains inadequate, however most will agree that sustained enchancment within the high quality of life has been attained.

One of many remaining human rights frontiers is in the area of gender equality. At the root of this challenge is the normal patriarchal tradition prevalent by means of our trendy occasions. Merely said males have controlled the financial, social and political system in our society. Within the final fifty years, vital inroads have been made as it relates to societal roles, authority, economic energy, gender oppression, political energy and vanity. Most of the longstanding walls of the repressive patriarchal tradition are falling, granted not quick sufficient, not thorough sufficient and not with out backlash. But the world is altering for the higher.

The Armenian individuals are clearly a mirror of the world. We are not any exception. We’ve got witnessed modifications in Armenia and within the diaspora that mirror improvement regarding gender equality. There’s one establishment, nevertheless, that is lagging. Society is shifting so shortly that this respected anchor seems to be static. It occurs to be an important establishment and subsequently the opportunity is critical. This, in fact, is our beloved Armenian church.

We love the Armenian church for many issues: its religious leadership, its potential to advertise our heritage and the commonality of id it provides all Armenians. Lots of our individuals, nevertheless, don’t maintain the church in high regard, relative to its connection to ladies. The vary of views varies from ambivalence to tolerance to opposition. These are our moms, wives, sisters and daughters, yet we tolerate what’s clearly institutional discrimination.

The emergence of non-traditional Armenian ladies’s organizations such because the Armenian International Ladies’s Association (AIWA) reflects the modifications within the position of girls and their considering as members of the human race and never simply of Armenians. It is exciting to see these organizations and older organizations such because the Armenian Aid Society (ARS) make the transitions to deal with these voids and be dedicated to the wants of the 21st century Armenian ladies. We should always all take a second to know this phenomenon and lend our help. For all the lads out there (including myself), we should view gender equality as a human rights difficulty. Whenever you take a look at it from that perspective, it takes on a fair larger importance. But where is our church? Some advances have been made to help the id of girls. The Women Guild group in our church has been evolving into a lady’s ministry taking over issues of spirituality and social needs. Ladies at the moment are routinely elected to lay councils. This is encouraging, however it’s not sufficient. It falls in need of expectations and many ladies silently lose their id and their presence.

Listed here are a number of examples of present id negatives that may and must resolved. Starting within the 1970s, there were public efforts to allow younger females to serve on the altar as candleholders. At first, it was advocated by a number of progressive clergymen, and later it was allowed by the Diocesan bishops in each the Prelacy and Diocese. Its implementation, nevertheless, has been very limited. Some parishes, such as the one I grew up in, carried out it for many years. There were different examples, but by and enormous it was left to the discretion of the parish priest. Most of the clergymen didn’t favor this; their sentiments weren’t based mostly on church doctrine, however moderately on personal views that have been largely influenced by their patriarchal upbringing. The program ultimately faltered with no actual implementation self-discipline, and in consequence a whole lot of younger ladies in our churches have been denied the chance to serve God and their church.

Id with our church is incessantly built by service. If that is sanctioned, then all ought to be provided the chance. The difficulty of girls in the diaconate has been patronized for years. Despite a 1,000 year-old tradition of girls deacons that continued within the 20th century, we now have been unable to articulate a clear path. On the one hand, the Armenian church has had the tradition of a monastic lady diaconate order but fails to advertise a longtime custom that ladies are worthy of. The Great House of Cilicia just lately ordained a lady to the diaconate within the Iran diocese. When the ordination passed off, the presiding bishop said that it was his want that this custom resume and that qualified ladies are encouraged. Clearly it’s potential and has value.

It isn’t a disaster of faith, but relatively a disaster of how and the place to use one’s faith in an institution.

One would assume that a program that finds candidates inside half of the population of the church can be thought-about essential. Many of us are conversant in failed attempts in America with candidates and resolutions passed by assemblies. We now have ladies graduating from St. Nersess seminary but are limited to roles reminiscent of Diocesan employees and youth ministry. What sort of a message does this give the women of our church who’re experiencing, each day, the revolution happening on the earth relative to their gender, but once they enter our church it appears to be a distant star? It provides a message of exclusion! We now have misplaced many ladies who can’t reconcile their id with the church. Some have found identities in different Christian denominations. It isn’t a crisis of religion, but quite a crisis of how and the place to apply one’s religion in an establishment. Imagine the influence to ladies who’ve spiritually heard the call to serve as deacons and haven’t any car in their own church? I just lately heard some encouraging phrases from Bishop Daniel. He understands the difficulty. It is a troublesome one as a result of the patriarchal system is functioning above his pay grade. He has to navigate challenging waters. Inform him and other leaders how you are feeling and pray for his success.

Another matter that impacts the id of girls in our occasions is how the church chooses to deal with (or not tackle) necessary social points. Particularly, the church has been very quiet on the difficulty of home violence in the direction of ladies. Everyone knows that this can be a notably tragic difficulty in Armenia. Because the vanguard of morality, the church ought to be the first to step ahead and work to finish this tragedy. Home violence does not finish, because a regulation was passed. It wants the help of major institutions, such as the church. Particularly it have to be made clear that that is unacceptable for Christian Armenians, and the church will be a part of the battle to remove this disgrace. I don’t hear that. What I hear is “in fact the church is worried.” Sorry, no advantage of the doubt when lives are at stake.

This concern isn’t restricted to Armenia. Armenian ladies endure from home violence within the diaspora additionally. The church must be lively in first publicly establishing a transparent position and then reinforce it with programming. The church have to be the “sanctuary” from human rights abuses that each one the trustworthy, including Armenian ladies can rely on. This leftover conduct of our patriarchal culture have to be eradicated. The church has a serious position to play in that hopeful victory.

Whether we discuss with it as the “boys club” or by the more refined time period “patriarchal,” the facility structure of the church should settle for that it is rather troublesome for a male-dominated establishment to elucidate away a few of these lapses. Our leaders must understand that the Armenian ladies of at the moment carry the identical values and character power of their grandmothers, but have larger expectations of their church as the overall society has superior. The church has been capable of keep away from this matter as a result of we, the members of the church, have given it a move. This won’t proceed as an growing proportion of girls anticipate leadership and relevance from their church. Will the church proceed its filibuster and proceed to tolerate the attrition, or will we really embrace the alternatives? The outstanding position of girls within the Bible offers us with inspiration and steerage. As extra ladies take on roles of authority and prominence in our church, we’ll see the leads to a stronger church household.

Stepan Piligian

Stepan was raised in the Armenian group of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Government and the Japanese Prelacy Government Council, he also served a few years as a delegate to the Japanese Diocesan Assembly. At present , he serves as a member of the board and government committee of the Nationwide Association for Armenian Research and Research (NAASR). He additionally serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired government in the pc storage business and resides within the Boston space together with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer instructor of Armenian history and modern points to the younger era and adults at faculties, camps and church buildings. His interests embrace the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports activities and studying.

Stepan Piligian

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