On Sunday, December 16, 2013 at 10:25, the beautiful bells of St. John Armenian Church were ringing inviting Bay Area parishioners to participate in the Episcopal Divine Liturgy. His Eminence Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, Locum Tenens of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, along with the St. John altar servers and deacons were getting ready for the processional, while the choir members were vocalizing.
It was a joyous day, not only for St. John family, but also for all the entire Bay Area Armenian Community, having Abp. Shirvanian celebrate Divine Liturgy and deliver the spiritual message. Aris Surpazan is very well known in Bay Area, not as the parish priest of St. John for 16 years, but as a unifying spiritual leader. He was instrumental in purchasing the Mount Davidson Cross, which is dedicated to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, and also he organized a committee to welcome and help over two hundred families that came as refugees from Baku, Azerbajaian during the war for Artsakh’s independance. For both of these monumental efforts the entire Armenian community fondly remembers him.
The solemn Divine Liturgy began with the majestic hymn Hrashapar sung by the choir, and continued with the angelic voices of our Sunday School children who sang 3 sharagans. Fr. Mesrop Ash introduced and invited. Abp Shirvanian to deliver his message. He expressed his gratitude to Abp Hovnan Derderian, and Fr. Mesrop Ash for once again giving him the opportunity to celebrate Divine Liturgy at St. John where he served for 16 years as a Parish Priest. He gave a brief update about the political and religious situation in Jerusalem and asked the congregation to pray for peace in the Holy Land.
A moving requiem service was conducted for the victims of Sandy Hooke elementary school; His Eminence remembered each soul by name.
Following the church services, a Christmas Party was organized by a special committee with the support of the Parish Council. Parish Council members Arto Bedikian and Greg Nemet offered welcoming remarks. Present also, was Fr. Hovel Ohanyan, Parish Priest of St. Vartan Armenian Church of Oakland. The highlight of the event was the performance of the Sunday School Band and Choir under the direction of Tommy Kesecker. They performed two Christmas songs and received enthusiastic applauses. Fr. Mesrop Ash thanked everyone for coming, expressed his gratitude to the choir director Linda Lester and the Choir members and deacons for a wonderful service. He thanked the committee members Talene Amadouny Movsesian, Valina Aghababian, Michael Kazarian and Dr. John Boghossian for a job well done and as well as all the volunteers who worked diligently to make this event a truly successful and memorable one.