Close

April 10, 2019

Uniting Church in Australia Recognizes the Armenian Genocide

Sydney, NSW – The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has formally acknowledged that the Armenian massacres and forced deportations constitute a Genocide. The UCA is the third denomination at a national level to acknowledge the Genocide that took place 100 years ago.

The UCA that came into being on June 22, 1977, after three denominations – Congregational Union in Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia, and the Presbyterian Church of Australia joined together – is the third largest Christian denomination in Australia and the first church to be created in and of Australia. At present a total of 2,500 congregations worship at a Uniting Church, including many congregations that worship in languages other than English.

This year the 14th Triennial Assembly was held on July 12-18 in the Winthrop Hall University of Western Australia in Perth, where 300 members of the UCA elected by Synods and Presbyteries across the country met.

The Armenian Evangelical Uniting Church of Sydney, located in Willoughby NSW is the only Armenian congregation that is part of the Sydney North Presbytery of the Uniting Church NSW and ACT Synod.
Rev. Dr. Chris walker, the National Consultant for Christian Unity and Worship, together with Mr. Levon Kardashian and the Rev. Dr. Krikor Youmshajekian, the former minister of the Armenian Evangelical Uniting Church of Sydney and currently the minister of the St. Andrew’s Uniting Church of Longueville and the Chairperson of Sydney North Presbytery, as well as the President of Armenian Missionary Association of Australia, prepared a proposal (http://assembly2015.uca.org.au/28-armenian-genocide-christian-unity-working-group) seeking the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Uniting Church in Australia.

The proposal was moved by Rev. Dr. Walker on behalf of the Christian Unity working group and seconded by Rev. Dr. Avril Hannah-Jones. Rev. Dr. Youmshajekian made a brief speech capturing the attention of all present. “In the years of 1915-1918, the Armenian people were under the grip of annihilation and the brutal plans of genocide – but our gracious and loving God saved this first Christian nation from being wiped out,” said Rev. Dr. Youmshajekian. He also mentioned that many countries and many communities in Australia had been involved in providing support, relief, food, and safe places for the Armenian people to live.

“By accepting this proposal the assembly will keep the story of the first Christian nation alive,” he said, giving thanks to the many Uniting Church congregations who had held liturgies to commemorate the Genocide.

Rev. Dr. Chris Walker, National Consultant for Christian Unity Doctrine and Worship, told the Assembly that it was deeply fitting for the Uniting Church to make this acknowledgement as the Armenian people mark the 100 year anniversary of the Genocide. He also acknowledged that both the World Christian Council and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) had made statements acknowledging the massacres that took place and the suffering of the Armenian community. “Accepting this proposal would be an act of ecumenical solidarity with the Armenian people who have suffered so much and continue to do so” he said.

After the proposal was unanimously adopted (http://assembly2015.uca.org.au/uniting-church-recognises-the-armenian-genocide/#more-2113), the President of the Assembly, Mr. Stuart McMillan, made a brief comment and asked all to stand for a minute of silence in commemoration of more the 1.5 million Armenians, who were the victims of the Genocide planed and implemented by the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century. By the request of Rev. Dr. Youmshajekian a prayer was offered by the NSW Moderator Rev. Dr. Myung Hwa Park, both sung and spoken in Korean and English.

The 14th Assembly has also agreed to

  • Commend the NSW and SA governments in acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and encourage the Federal and other state governments to do the same
  • Affirm the value of recognizing a date on or near the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, as a day of observance and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
  • Request the National Consultant Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship to prepare

a) A prayer to be provided for all congregations of the UCA for use on the day; and
b) In consultation with others, educational and liturgical resources for congregations to use. On behalf of the Armenian community of Australia and the blessings of the Bishop Haigazoune Najarian, the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, we express our appreciation and gratitude to the Uniting Church in Australia for passing such an important resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

Commend the NSW and SA governments in acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and encourage the Federal and other state governments to do the same
Affirm the value of recognizing a date on or near the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, as a day of observance and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.
Request the National Consultant Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship to prepare
(a) A prayer to be provided for all congregations of the UCA for use on the day; and
(b) In consultation with others, educational and liturgical resources for congregations to use.
On behalf of the Armenian community of Australia and the blessings of the Bishop Haigazoune Najarian, the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, we express our appreciation and gratitude to the Uniting Church in Australia for passing such an important resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

On behalf of the Armenian community of Australia and the blessings of the Bishop Haigazoune Najarian, the Primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand, we express our appreciation and gratitude to the Uniting Church in Australia for passing such an important resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide.