An ecumenical service was held at St Sarkis Armenian Cathedral, London on Sunday 23 April to commemorate the holy martyrs of the Armenian genocide 108 years ago. The service, in the beautiful but petite church, was co-led by a range of ecumenical guests in a mixture of English and Armenian. A number of the local Armenian community were present.
The Armenian genocide remembrance day takes place to specifically remember the point at which officials from the Ottoman government rounded up hundreds of Armenian intellectuals, artists, and political and community leaders and murdered them.
However the genocide took place over many years as the Ottomans pushed the Armenian community into the Syrian desert. Over a million men, women and children died as a result due to exhaustion and starvation. Today’s Turkish government continue to deny the genocide took place.
The service included songs, prayers and reflections from the Armenian community. The Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Great Britain, Bishop Hovakim, implored guests to remember this often-forgotten tragedy of human history. He also highlighted the contemporary situation where there are still daily tensions with Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Bishop Hovakim asked the religious leaders speak out for peace and the return of historic Armenian lands.
CTE’s Orthodox President, Archbishop Nikitas of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, explained that Oriental and Eastern Orthodox were part of the same family and being present at the service for him was an act of solidarity. He noted that Greeks and Armenians have much shared history. He focused on the idea that the gospel was a story of hope and therefore we could hope for a better future for Armenia.
Archbishop Angaelos from the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Emeritus Archbishop of Southwark. Kevin McDonald, from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales also gave short addresses of support.