New York City’s landmark Saint Vartan Armenian Cathedral was the site of the second annual gathering of UN officials of Oriental and Eastern Orthodox backgrounds, Orthodox ambassadors and delegates of the various UN missions, Orthodox staff of the Secretariat, and heads of Orthodox NGOs on Monday, September 30, 2002.
Among the religious leaders attending the gathering and Prayer Service was His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America and His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
The first Orthodox Prayer Service for the UN community was inaugurated in 2001, by coincidence within days of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as a means of establishing an Orthodox presence for the cause of world peace and understanding. The annual gatherings are organized by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches (SCOOCH).
His Eminence, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), celebrated the Prayer Service and welcomed attendees.
In recalling last year’s gathering, Archbishop Khajag delivered a homily in which he said the quest for peace “must be a shared action for all our churches.”
Among the distinguished speakers addressing attendees was His Excellency, Ambassador Sergey Lavrov, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the UN, who called for a “redoubling of our collective efforts for peace.”
Mr. Benon Sevan, UN Undersecretary-General and Executive Director of the Iraq Programme, also addressed the gathering, reminding those in attendance that “religious groups must speak up against those who use religion to harm others.”
Ambassador Lavrov and Mr. Sevan have long and distinguished records of service at the highest levels of world diplomacy.
A reception followed in the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.
Co-chairs of the Joint Commission are Archbishop Khajag and His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Members of the UN event committee include the Rev. Emmanuel Gratsias, Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese; the Very Rev. Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church in America; the Rev. Anthony DeLuca, Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church; the Rev. Simeon Odabashian, Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church; and Mr. Bishoy M. Mikhail, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, Archdiocese of North America.