Thursday, 16 May 2019

Armenia Calling

A delegation of Uniting Church leaders is on a three-week pilgrimage to Armenia, the world’s first Christian nation. The trip is led by Rev. Krikor Youmshajekian of St Andrews Uniting Church Longueville on Sydney’s lower north shore.

NSW/ACT Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford, immediate past UCA President Stuart McMillan, former Moderator of the Northern Synod Ros McMillan, and Sydney Central Coast Presbytery Minister Rev. Graham Perry are among those taking part.

This is the third consecutive year Rev. Youmshajekian has led a UCA delegation to his former homeland.

Along with a number of ecumenical meetings, the group met the President of the Republic of Artsakh, Mr Bako Sahakyan, as well Artsakh's Foreign Minister, Mr Masis Mayilian.

The visit even made the local TV news.

The delegation presented President Sahakyan with a sacred textile design featuring the female water spirit story by renowned artist Deborah Wurrkidj from the Arnhem Land Aboriginal community of Maningrida. Artsakh is a de facto independent country in the South Caucasus region, also known as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

The Uniting Church has a long and close friendship with Armenia. Prominent Australian Presbyterian Minister Rev. John Ferguson established the Armenian Relief Fund in 1915 – a fund that provided relief supplies to the survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

The Uniting Church formally recognised the Armenian Genocide at the 14th Assembly in Perth in 2015, which led to the UCA receiving the Armenian National Committee of Australia’s Freedom Award in 2016.

In September 2016, members of the Australian Armenian community, civic and religious leaders gathered in Ferguson Hall at St Stephen’s Uniting Church in Sydney, to pay tribute to the Australian humanitarians who provided this vital support.