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by NAD Lisa Kradjian

This is a time like no other in our history — and like no other time in our brotherhood and sisterhood. But one of the Daughters of Vartan’s young professional members is turning challenges into victories by making new opportunities happen for small businesses in Armenia which have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ter Aram Mirzoyan, spiritual leader of the Berd region of the Diocese of Tavush, Northeast Armenia, is visiting the East and West Coast Armenian-American communities during the month of March to tell the story of the spiritual revival of this region and to help bring awareness of the Berd region inhabitants’ struggle for survival.

A new St. Gevork Apostolic Church is under construction in the town of Berd, capital of the Shamshadin region of the Tavush Marz in the Northeast corner of Armenia.  Berd is a town with a population of 8,000 surrounded by 16 villages having a 100 mile border with Azerbaijan, where Azeri snipers regularly shoot at civilian targets and engage in unprovoked border incursions killing and frightening Armenians to abandon their homes.  Ter Aram says, “The Armenians living in this picturesque region with bright green carpeted meadows, mountain ranges, ravines, rivers and pristine spring water will not abandon their homeland and have endured severe hardships over the last 20 years”.

The ancient St. Gevork Church was destroyed by the communist regime in the early 1920’s, resulting in  the Berd community not having a place of worship and essentially cutoff from their Christian faith. Spearheaded by a young, devoted clergyman Ter Aram Mirzoyan, a native of nearby Chinari village, the construction of a new St. Gevork Church in Berd was begun in late 2011. Major funding for construction of the Church was made possible by a generous bequest from Fresno, CA native John Stevens, who had visited Berd a few years ago and decided they needed a Church, so he included in his will a major donation to build the Church.

With enough funds to begin the project Ter Aram began the construction of the Church, starting with the consecration of the foundation in May 2012 by Archbishop Yeznig Petrosyan, Primate of the Tavush marz. Completion is expected in 2013.  But to complete the project Ter Aram needs additional funding, some of which he has raised from former Shamshadin natives, now living in Moscow.

Ter Aram is not only concerned with the spiritual development of the community, but also its economic and cultural revival, as well as the safety of the villagers living directly on the hazardous border with Azerbaijan.

Vehapar Karekin II, Archbishops Khajak Barsamian and Hovnan Derderian, Primates of the Eastern and Western Diocese of America, have blessed this project and urge their parishioners to support Ter Aram to complete this Church as a sign of solidarity with the 16,000 villagers in the Berd region. American-Armenians are not being called upon to make the sacrifices of the brave folks who defend Armenia’s frontiers, but they can help with critically needed tax deductible donations to complete this Church. Please give as you can and many thanks for your kind cooperation.

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