Presbyterian Church Recognizes Armenian Genocide

DETROIT — On Friday, June 20, some six hundred commissioners to the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted with near unanimity a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide and adopting the 2015 church calendar designating April 26 as the day for its observance. It also directed the church’s Mission Agency to prepare educational and liturgical resources for member churches in preparation for this event.

This historic resolution, which was the first of its kind for a major American church body, was adopted by the 1.8 million-member church. It originated in the local presbyteries of Los Ranchos (Anaheim, Ca), Chicago and Palisades (New Jersey), and then sent on to the national body for adoption. Two overture advocates who played a vital role in this regard were the Rev. Dr. Christine Chakoian (Chicago Presbytery), and the Rev. Dr. Vartkes Kassouni (Los Ranchos Presbytery). Central to the development and writing of the resolution (called an overture) was the staff of the Jinishian Memorial Program (Eliza Minassian, director, and Cara Taylor coordinator), and the World Mission Agency of the PC (USA). Assisting was the Rev. Garabed Kochakian, pastor of St. John’s Armenian Church, Southfield.

The overture includes four key points: it urges member congregations to recognize the Armenian Genocide; supports the designation of “genocide” for the death of 1.5 million Armenians; directs the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly  to call on the President and the Congress of the United States to recognize and condemn the death and expulsion of the Armenians and directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency  to encourage appropriate observance of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Presbyterian churches, with accompanying educational and cultural forms of remembrance.