Deacons and Deacons Training

Deacon’s Day in St. Sarkis Church

One of the most important parts of the diocesan life is prayer and the liturgical life; celebration of Holy Mass (Sourb Badarak) in the Churches, morning and evening services and liturgy of the hours. However, it is impossible to celebrate liturgy and provide solemnity in the service without Church choirs and the valuable services of deacons.

The deaconate is one of the main orders of the threefold ministry in the Church and the ordination of deacons has clear biblical evidence.  “Now in these days, as the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose by the Greeks peaking Jews against the Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  So the twelve summoned the community of disciples and said; “It is not desirable that we neglect the word of God to serve tables. So, brothers, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will put in charge of this need.  But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the statement pleased the whole group, and they chose Stephen (a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit), and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus (a convert from Antioch), whom they stood before the Apostles. And they prayed and placed their hands on them.” The deacons were the first assistants of the Apostles. And the deaconate continued throughout history.

In the Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches it is a transitional  ministry, as after their ordination deacons can be elevated to the sacred order of priesthood. However, there are deacons who make lifelong commitment to remain as deacons and continue their services in the churches.

The deacons are committed members of the parishes who serve in the Church apart from their main jobs in their secular life. The Diocese of the Armenian Church in the UK and Ireland is blessed to have such deacons who have been serving in the Church for a few decades.  Stepan Ovanessoff  has been serving at St. Sarkis Church since 1957 (68 years) and is a retired Chartered Accountant.  Sarkis Kalaydjian has been serving at St. Yeghiche Church since 2003, and is a retired bus driver.  Vartkes Keshishian has been serving at St. Yeghiche since the first day of consecration in 2001,  and works as a footwear retailer.

Six years ago, the former Primate of the Diocese, His Grace Bishop Vahan Hovhanessian, launched a Deacons Training Programme. Following its establishment and a number of spiritual retreats, four deacons were  ordained at St. Sarkis Church on 16   November 2014.  These new deacons are: Arman Harutyunian, a retired British Telecom engineer, who has been serving for 20 years at St. Sarkis Church; Hovik Hovhannisyan, who is a private property landlord and has been serving at St. Sarkis Church for 5 years; Nairi Afrikyan, an artist, who has been serving at St. Yeghiche Church for 3 years; and Richard Cherkerzian, Vice President at Bank of America, has served at St. Yeghiche Church since 2007 and is now serving at St. Sarkis Church.

The role of deacons is important in the liturgical life of the Church. In order to make sure that the services are held properly and continuity is provided, the Primate’s Office will continue the Deacon’s Training Programme.  The classes will include Armenian  Church music, grabar-liturgical Armenian, history of the Armenian liturgy and Church history. The programmes are on our website and those who are interested can register to participate in training.

If you are interested in joining our Deacon’s Training Programme, please download the form here , complete and return to the Primate’s Office: