The World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has been honoured with the “Friend of the Armenians” award by the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in the United States, as an acknowledgement of his efforts to support Armenian churches throughout the world.
Tveit was presented with the award in a ceremony which took place on 4 May in Springfield, Massachusetts as part of the Annual Assembly of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.
The diocese has periodically honoured selected public figures with the 'Friend of the Armenians' award. They are recognised as having shown special concern and support for the Armenian community. Past recipients of this distinction included US ambassadors Harry Gilmore and John Evans, John Cardinal O’Connor, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, US senators Edward Kennedy, Robert Dole and Robert Menedez, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
During the event, Tveit spoke about the strong ecumenical engagement of the Armenian Church in the United States and reflected upon his visit to Armenia last year when he stayed at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin at the invitation of the Catholicos of All Armenians, Supreme Patriarch Karekin II.
Tveit introduced the audience to the theme of the WCC upcoming 10th Assembly “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”. The assembly will take place in Busan, Korea in 2013. He invited participants to consider what the theme means for the Armenian Church, both in Armenia and in the United States.
“A church like yours, which knows so much about the longing for justice and peace, has much to offer others who need the WCC to support their efforts towards just peace,” said Tveit.
“Friendship is a biblical quality. We are called to a unity of friendship, sharing our gifts and our challenges,” he added.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), said in a letter to Tveit, “We feel that your presence among us is an excellent opportunity to express our gratitude to the WCC as an ecumenical organisation and to call attention to your own singular efforts to acknowledge the Armenian Church’s place within the large worldwide ecumenical movement – as shown in your recent trip to our homeland.”