NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.—In this “Year of Service,” as proclaimed by Catholicos Aram I and the Armenian Apostolic Church, students at St. Gregory Church are taking matters into their own hands and forging ahead to make their community more viable.
Members of the Armenian and Sunday schools put their minds and hearts together to see how service can best be rendered through their church and community, extending the motion to reach their families, schools, and ultimately themselves.
The ideas rendered from schoolchildren as young as eight were amazing. All shared equally in the seminar before presenting their findings to a full house of parents and other adults at a recent Paregentan. It was their show and they were enamored by it.
Categories were divided into four: Service to God, people, community, and ourselves. In each, the students outlined their priorities as their instructors watched and listened.
The gamut stretched from better attendance and volunteerism to raising funds for Armenian orphanages, joining outside organizations, and encouraging the more passive to become involved with their church and heritage.
Fly the Armenian flag and sell others on the idea. Landscape the church grounds and present projects in schools they attend. Promote their culture on the outside and become young ambassadors in meeting with government officials. Perhaps enroll in a service project in Armenia for older teens.
In the end, two projects were adopted, soon to be initiated by the students:
(1) Plant a memorial flowering tree on the outside grounds, dedicated to all the deceased members of the parish; and
(2) Organize a children’s library in the newly refurbished classrooms downstairs, open to all youth. In the process, organize fund drives to make these a reality and proceed with a book-collecting endeavor.
“All parishioners, young and old, will be able to enjoy our library,” said Anna Shahtanian, who co-chairs the committee with Ava Movsessian. “Books that teach us and books to enjoy. We hope to operate it like a regular library.”
Plans for the tree-planting are already under way. A dedication ceremony is being targeted for Sun., April 24, following church service.
As for the library, an October opening is being anticipated, at which time formalities will take place. The church was consecrated in 1970 and nothing short of a library has ever been realized.
“There are authors in our community whose books can be displayed as well,” said Movsessian. “We could have a book-signing right here. No church should be without a library.”
In a day and age when children are often admonished for their behavior or not taken seriously, the opportunity presents itself to become role models for other churches and student groups. It could have a domino effect, which is just what the Prelacy would like to see. Activity breeds service.
Both projects are coming under the supervision of Sossy Jeknavorian, superintendent, and Jane Kublbeck, instructor, whose long and distinguished tenures have enriched the schools.
Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West