August 30, 2017
Urgent Alert—An Emergency for Our Houston Parish
This is a follow- up-to our directive of Monday, August 28, on Hurricane Harvey and the flood disaster in Houston, TX.
At that time, we were hopeful that conditions had reached their lowest point and would begin to improve.
Regrettably, the situation has gotten significantly worse in the subsequent days. As our entire country has witnessed with dismay, the flooding in Houston has now become one of worst natural disasters in U.S. history.
I want to inform our Diocesan leadership that our St. Kevork Armenian Church community has not been spared in this devastation. Parishioners have been severely affected, and many Armenian families have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Family homes have become uninhabitable; their belongings lost.
St. Kevork’s pastor, the Rev. Fr. Martiros Hakobyan, along with Parish Council Chair Areg Sahakian, have been canvassing their fellow parishioners, and estimate at this time that fully a quarter of the families have experienced adversity that will have an impact for months to come—and probably longer.
In our contacts with Der Martiros and Areg, both have been models of grace and composure—even under the severe conditions they are experiencing. Today they made a plea to our brothers and sisters throughout the Eastern Diocese to help the St. Kevork community in its time of dire need.
So with this directive, I am calling on all our Diocesan parishes to hold special collections during Badarak for each of the Sundays of September—starting September 3, and continuing on September 10, 17, and 24—to help provide relief to the affected people of the St. Kevork Church.
Checks should be made out to:
Holy Trinity Armenian Church – Memo: St. Kevork Flood Relief
Time is of the essence, so please do not delay in sending collected funds to the Diocesan Center. Please send the September 3 collection to arrive by September 7, so we can begin to release funds to the parish and its people. Parishes should try to send additional funds within a week after they’ve been collected. The Diocese will be transferring funds to the Houston parish every few days, as these arrive.
For the immediate term, our focus as an institution needs to be on our fellow parishioners in Houston. But please recognize that this is a disaster of national proportions, and we encourage everyone to help with the general relief effort to our fellow American citizens.
Most of all, we must not allow ourselves to be demoralized at a time like this. To the contrary, at such times we are given a powerful opportunity to help our fellow man—to truly enact the Christian virtues of charity, outreach to those in need, and prayer that God will deliver His people from affliction. Let us all renew these virtues in our hearts, during the coming weeks and beyond.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian