WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS SHOULDN’T ALWAYS STAY IN VEGAS:
Posted on March. 23. 2019
ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON THE 89TH ANNUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE WESTERN DIOCESE OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH OF NORTH AMERICA CONVENED ON FRIDAY, MAY 6, 2016 AT THE ARMENIAN CHURCH OF LAS VEGAS.
BY Micah Jendian DEACON, Alternate Delegate St. John Garabed Armenian Church San Diego, California
The May 13, 2016 Newsletter of the Western Diocese offers a glowing account of last weekend’s Annual Diocesan Assembly Meeting. It makes it sound like the Assembly Meeting was divinely inspired and grace filled. Readers would have no reason to believe that that wasn’t the case . . . unless, of course they were there or their life experiences have taught them what poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti writes:
“’History is made of the lies of the victors’
but you would never dream it
from [. . .] the way the victors are portrayed
as super-benevolent altruists
and lovers of the poor and downtrodden
who never had a chance to
rise up and write their own dubious stories
in the mystery we call history [. . . .]
And anyway history isn’t really history
until it’s rewritten
or at least until it repeats itself [. . . .]”
Twice during the meeting, motions to bring the filed complaint against the Primate (which you’ve read here previously was submitted to the Diocesan Council) before the Assembly Delegates were denied.
The delegate who made these motions was cut off, asked to sit down, and – as he continued to make his voice heard – threatened to be removed from the meeting. Oh my.
Immediately before the Vote of (No) Confidence for the Primate, commercials from the Ladies Society, the Clergy Council, and Diocesan Council all offered their endorsement of the Primate and support for a “Yes” vote. Thereafter, delegates from parishes outside of San Diego asked why they weren’t permitted to hear about the complaint and from the delegate who brought forward the earlier motions. If now isn’t the time to discuss it, they asked, when was. Their inquiries were not entertained.
The Vote went forward. 93 “Yes,” 17 “No.”
The Western Diocese Newsletter also describes the clergy conference in the afternoon of Thursday, May 5 – presided over by the Primate – and notes a number of topics discussed: the current situation in Artsakh and Armenia, parish fundraising involvement in the Humanitarian Fund for Artsakh, the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Western Diocese in 2017 and the Pontifical Visit of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and the publication of the 90th anniversary booklet.
Given that almost all the clergy knew of the formal complaint submitted against the Primate and had also received the 90+ page compilation of public information and correspondence related to San Diego (ON A LAMPSTAND: An Attempt to Illuminate What Has Transpired at St. John Garabed Armenian Church of San Diego and Why, and the Actions and Inaction of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Armenian Church of North America, Western Diocese, the Diocesan Council, and Others), we are curious what else was discussed at the clergy meeting. If only we were a flies on that wall or could ask a priest who was present about it . . .
Something else has been buried in Las Vegas.
To exhume it, linked below is a handout – which includes the formal complaint against the Primate, the response it received from the Diocesan Council, the response to the response from the complainant, and a brief summary of what has transpired in San Diego. We know the document was sent to the Diocesan Assembly Officers prior to the Assembly Meeting, to all Diocesan Council members, to the clergy, and distributed to some of the delegates.
As Armenians struggling against other efforts to misrepresent history and bury unfortunate realities, we must believe that time is on the side of truth. We are steadfast. We are patient.
We will see.
This post concludes with the Primate’s statement to the Assembly Delegates: “The livelihood of the Church is conditioned by the collective noble deeds of the reverend clergy and laity.” We couldn’t agree more.