Important Communication to the UK Armenian Community
At the annual meeting of the Armenian Church Trust (ACT) on Monday 2 December, the activities of the Armenian Church in the United Kingdom were presented, many already described in previous bulletins. One point that became clear was the increased scope and depth of the programs made possible by the resources and opportunities of the new Arachnortaran guided by the Bishop and active supporters.
It was not a solo speech by the Bishop: those involved with the youth activities, Bible Studies, the Street Festival and lectures participated with their aspirations for the future. Truly, our church is becoming more active and broadening its mission.
There is, however, a negative aspect to this success story that all community members should be aware of. The ACT is running a significant deficit amounting in the last accounts to nearly £34,000. Future success is only possible with the right level of finances.
Currently reserves are being drawn on but this cannot continue. Either the right level of financial support is forthcoming or the program has to be cut down significantly.
The situation is not confined to the overall diocesan level: it affects the individual parishes as well. Currently, the two London parishes have between them less than 400 parishioner members only, whose annual dues support all the parish including church services. They too have difficulties maintaining their work, let alone expand it. The 400 is such a small proportion of the community with a size of 14,000 or so.
There is a prevailing view over many years that rich benefactors and trusts will always give the necessary money when needed. That might have been true at one time, but no longer: the church needs continuous, dependable and consistent regular income from more sources.
Our clergy always stress to us that the church is not just the building, the clergy and the church services: it exists and thrives only through its congregations. It is vital that the community participates with their time and money to the church, without believing complacently that others can be called on. The church needs all its adherents and should not be restricted to such a small set of active people.
So when you enter a church for a service expecting the doors to be open, the building to be lit up and heated, a priest at the altar, candles in the vestry, a choir and organist performing – think of what it takes to make all this happen. We cannot take all this for granted.
Firstly, please become a parishioner for one of the churches who will appreciate the generosity of your regular dues. Small annual amounts by many add up to a worthwhile level. The income from weddings and baptisms is not a regular and reliable basis for the we’ll being of the church.
Secondly consider giving additional donations either to the parish or the ACT to sustain a thriving church in all its aspects. Do not just dip in and out of the church when you come expecting others to provide – you are an important member of the church too.
This is an issue for all the community and should not be avoided. If you want the Armenian Apostolic Church to thrive in the UK, then all of us must address its plight.
This email may come as a surprise, even a shock. But it is vital that all are clear on the needs of the church, and the actions that each should take. More of us, all of us, not just the few.