SYDNEY—The Armenian Missionary Association of Australia (AMAA) set a goal in 2019 to raise funds to support the “Shogh” Educational Day Centers in Armenia and Artsakh, which provide provisional services for underprivileged children. The Centers, located in Gyumri, Vanadzor and Yerevan in Armenia, and Askeran and Shushi in Artsakh, support children 6 to 12 years old who are living in socially underserved families; they provide them with a safe environment during parents’ working hours. The main objectives of the Centers are to help these children overcome educational difficulties, grow personally and become part of an educated and healthy society. Harout Nercessian, an AMAA representative in Armenia, was invited to Australia to speak about the organization’s children in these centers and in their communities.
On Sunday, March 24, Nercessian spoke at St. Andrew’s Uniting Church of Longueville to a combined Worship Service with Lane Cove Uniting Church. A “Lawn Bowls” fundraising event followed the worship service at the Longueville Sports Club. This unique event was the first in a series of events organized for this year’s “AMA-Australia Week,” which was well attended by young people and enjoyed by all.
Later that afternoon, a cultural event took place featuring the Zela Margossian Quintet. Their amazing ethno-jazz performance contained a taste of Armenian traditional music, and was greatly appreciated by all. The group donated all proceeds from the concert to the centers for children. The opening of a photography exhibition followed the Concert in the Church’s War Memorial Hall, where Raffi Elejian, a new arrival from Aleppo, Syria, exhibited his photos. The Exhibition was opened by the past president of the Uniting Church of Australia, Stuart McMillan, and remained open throughout the following week.
Later, on Tuesday, Manvel Saribekyan’s documentary “Map of Salvation,” about five young European Missionaries who were witnesses to the Armenian Genocide and subsequently founded shelters for Armenian children and women, was screened at St. Andrew’s Uniting Church War Memorial Hall.
On March 31, the AMA-Australia Sunday Worship and Praise Service was held at the Armenian Evangelical Church of Sydney in Willoughby. Many dignitaries, Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) clergy, politicians and representatives of Armenian organizations were present. The Service was led by Rev. Hagop Sarkissian, Church Minister. Rev. Dr. Krikor Youmshajekian, and the AMA-Australia President and Executive Director. Mr. Nercessian shared the “The Parable of the Rich Fool” (Luke 12:13-21). He also gave a report on the inspiring work that is done for our children in the “Shogh” centers, and the amazingly transformative impact that has been achieved in their lives and in their families, all for the glory of God. During the Service, the talented and famous opera singer, Natalie Aroyan, performed an aria by Pucini, accompanied by talented pianist, Alex Sahagian. At the conclusion of the Service, the UCA President, Dr. Dierdre Palmer, offered prayers, led the Lord’s Prayer (“Hayr Mer”) and gave the Benediction.
Following the Service, the AMA-Australia Annual Luncheon was held at the church’s War Memorial Hall. The Luncheon was well attended, and included politicians and UCA leaders. Everyone enjoyed the delicious food and the wonderful entertainment provided by the Lane Cove Delta Jazz Band, led by David Cant, a member of St. Andrew’s Uniting Church. Rev. Dr. Youmshajekian presented a brief audio-visual report about last year’s AMAA centenary fundraising for kindergartens in Artsakh and the completion of the renovations. He made an appeal to those in the community to continue supporting AMAA’s projects. Mr. Nercessian outlined the work done with disadvantaged children in the centers. Some beautiful handicrafts, made by the children themselves, as well as bilingual New Testaments, were available for purchase. With the generous donations of supporters throughout the week-long activities, $35,000 Australian dollars were raised.
During his stay in Australia, Nercessian also spoke at the Armenian Evangelical Church Ladies Group Worship Service and visited the Armenian Day Schools of the AGBU Alexander School and Hamazkayin Galstaun College.
Officially established in 1991 as an independent charitable organization and registered Incorporation in Australia, AMA-Australia is a sister Association of the Armenian Missionary Association of America. AMAA-Australia is the brainchild of the former AMAA Executive Director, the late Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian, who unfortunately didn’t get to see its fruition. It pursues the same aims as the AMAA, serving the religious, educational and social needs of Armenian communities in the Homeland and the Diaspora.
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