Prelacy Hosts 8th Annual Oriental Orthodox Churches Sunday Schools Bible Adventure Day

On Saturday, March 2, 2013, the 8th annual Oriental Orthodox Churches Sunday School Bible Adventure Day was held at St. Garabed Armenian Church in Hollywood, under the auspices of the Council of Oriental Orthodox Bishops, H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate, H.E. Archbishop Mor Clemis Eugene Kaplan, and H.G. Bishop Serapion, and hosted by the Western Prelacy.  Clergy members from the three Churches also participated.

One hundred and fifty students, ages nine to fourteen, from twelve Churches participated in the event, which began at 10:00 a.m. with Divine Liturgy conducted according to the rites of the Armenian Apostolic Church and celebrated by the Prelate.  Accompanied by the singing of the “Hrashapar” hymn, the Prelates entered the Church and ascended the altar.

During the Liturgy, two students from the Coptic and Syrian Orthodox Churches read the daily Bible readings. The students also participated in the singing of hymns in their respective languages, and received Holy Communion from the Prelates.  At the conclusion of the service, the Prelates conveyed their messages on the following topics; Great Lent, what unites the Oriental Orthodox Churches and our future in today’s world in relation to current world events in the Middle East.

Our Prelate began his message by greeting the Prelates, clergy, teachers, and students, stating, “It is spiritually fulfilling to see so many of our Sunday School students participate in this wonderful event every year where you join your Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac brothers and sisters in the celebration of Divine Liturgy in unity and harmony, and enjoy this fellowship based on common faith, beliefs, and values.”  His Eminence also thanked and commended the Oriental Orthodox Churches Sunday School Committee Chair Mrs. Patricia Allaf and the members and volunteers for their hard work and dedication in organizing this important event every year for the past eight years.  Speaking on what unites the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Prelate highlighted that “Although there are three distinct churches represented here, we are, in effect, members of one family, the Oriental Orthodox family, with shared faith, beliefs, and values. The Oriental Orthodox Churches are of the most ancient in the Christian world, each tracing its origins to the apostles in the first century, and we have some of the richest and most beautiful traditions.  But the strongest unifying factor that makes us one family is that we are all children of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are one in Jesus Christ and united in Him through our faith and belief.  And today, as children of God and of the Oriental Orthodox Church, you have gathered here in praise and worship to celebrate our mutual Christian faith and to grow in knowledge of the Word of God which will strengthen you spiritually and mentally.”

 The second portion of the Prelate’s message centered on the importance of following God’s Word, for which he cited James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”.  “Studying the Bible and learning about the miracles, parables, and commandments of Christ will not only teach you how to live a Christian faith, it will draw you closer to God.  Lent offers a uniquely special opportunity to draw closer to God and to grow in our relationship with Him; to deepen our commitment to Him and to the Christian way of life through prayer and repentance”. The heart of Lent is for us to ”grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).  This is achieved through prayer and through the study of God’s Word.  Thus, Lent is a time for more frequent prayer, for more personal communication and communion with God; to drawing nearer to Him by speaking with Him from the depths of our hearts and souls.”  His Eminence concluded by wishing that the Lenten journey is a meaningful one for each and every students, and that they will welcome the good news of the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday renewed in mind, body, and spirit.

Students were then invited for lunch, after which the second portion of the day began.  Students were assigned to groups according to age, and at different testing stations created posters on one of the miracles of Christ, were quizzed on the miracles of our Lord, and created and performed a skit on a miracle of their choice.  When a group was not at a station, they had the opportunity for a question and answer session with priests inside the Church. Winning teams from each age division received trophies, and all students received an award ribbon, group photo, and a religious icon for their participation.  Very Rev. Fr. Muron Aznikian awarded trophies to the students who were in the top three teams.  The gathering concluded with the Lord’s Prayer.

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