The Armenian Church was well represented at the annual meeting. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate of the Eastern Diocese and former President of the National Council of Churches (USA), led the delegation which included Mr. Raffi Balian, a St. Nersess board member. Also attending, at the invitation of the NCC, were seminarians Dn. Armen Terjimanian and Adam Bullock.
The theme of this year's gathering was "Ending Racism: Confronting our Past, Revisiting our Present and Naming God's Preferred Future," on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the shores of North America at Old Point Comfort (which is located in present-day Hampton). Dn. Armen and Adam joined 50 seminarians from various denominations and attended numerous meetings and discussions with members of the NCC and World Council of Churches, including the NCC's Faith and Order (Raffi Balian served as a co-facilitator) and Inter-religious Dialogue (Vicken Srpazan is a member) groups.
This was the second year that St. Nersess seminarians were invited to attend with their expenses fully paid by the NCC. Dn. Armen delivered a prayer during the Monday evening opening worship service at Bethel AME Church in Hampton, VA. "The two days spent attending the 2019 Christian Unity Conference were inspiring and informational. Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves onto the shores of North America was an emotional experience. I learned that racism and discrimination is still real in the 21st century and it is up to all those who serve the Church and God to set the example to help squash racism once and for all," commented Dn. Armen.
"It was an honor to attend the NCC Christian Unity Gathering as a representative of the Armenian Church. I came away with a stronger understanding of the reality of racism in America. It was refreshing to see various branches of Christianity put aside their differences and discuss the Church's role in stamping out hate by spreading the love of Christ," recalled Adam Bullock.