As this year’s Prelacy NRA Convention draws near, I cannot help but voice a sound of approval for the women’s guilds of our various churches.
Much too often, their work and commitment goes unheralded in the mish-mash of everyday society. But here they are, working the trenches, whether it’s organizing a church fair or a bake sale, putting their energy to good use inside our different parishes.
You can call it “chicken and pilaf” trivia, but I’ll take more of a pragmatic approach. It’s the hand that rocks our cradle, keeps our communities involved, and reaches out with a charitable arm.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending their conventions during the NRA, not that I’m a guild member. They’ll ask for a group photo and I oblige. Often, I show up when the entire body isn’t present for one reason or another. The meeting goes on and I’ll play a short waiting game.
I am absolutely impressed by the spirit of their actions—the bonding that takes place in that room apart from the NRA itself—and the good that comes when stimulating minds work together.
For those who may be a bit nebulous over the matter, let’s just say that in addition to learning about the traditions and doctrines of the church, members cooperate and maintain harmonious relationships with all other organizations—but more importantly themselves.
Inside my own church, I see a lifeline of good that’s being perpetuated with these women. Oh sure, like any sensitive group of ladies, there’s always the debate over whose rice pilaf is best and who concocts the better cheoreg.
Most are also Armenian Relief Society (ARS) members and involved in other organizations, in addition to raising their families. Many have also joined the employment line. How they juggle the different balls speaks well of their discipline.
Over time, we have seen their work with the Orphan Summer Religious Camp directed by Rev. Archpriest Aram Stepanian, along with the many orphans being adopted from Armenia.
We have seen the countless scholarships and camperships to the Datev Institute, which a child of mine attended, and other places of interest for our youth.
The Syrian Relief Fund was not overlooked and now with the dire situation in Nagorno-Karabagh, once again they will be asked to respond. The cream somehow rises to the top.
The other night, we were invited by the St. Stephen’s Church Women’s Guild (Watertown) to give a program on our new book, The Armenians of Merrimack Valley. It was very well received, thank you.
The audience included about 30 women and 10 men as invited guests and spouses. Our presentation followed their meeting.
As photos of Merrimack Valley over the past century were being flashed upon a screen, guild members were able to connect with their own peers from a different community. Now, here’s my drift.
Their children grew up with our children. Now, their grandchildren are taking the baton and running with it. We are a culture and a heritage, predicated upon our different families and organizations, including our church and Women’s Guild. One hand shakes the other.
As I was going through my monologue with the photos and pointing out certain qualities that tend to unite us all, such as our traditions and generations, I heard someone remark in the audience: “Amen!”
The woman was obviously enamored by what was being said and how it affected her personally. I would mention a name from Merrimack Valley and it was immediately embraced by another from Watertown.
Folks, I do not know of too many outside organizations that can boast of such heredity and kinship, not even the Red Hat Ladies, to which I am not a member, either. But I can appreciate their labors of love. We can all do that, regardless of gender.
As the evening wore on and the program ended, out came the Armenian pastries and delights, sagging a nearby table. And on came the chairwoman with a plastic bag full of cheoreg for myself and co-author Phil Brown as a token of their appreciation.
A bag of cheoreg from the Women’s Guild. I could not have asked for a better send-off.
As we gather our thoughts and pay our respects to worthy organizations that don’t often get the credit they deserve, let’s take a moment and applaud the guild. It is well worth the exercise!
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West