St. Stephen the Protodeacon & First Martyr

Sunday Messenger

January 1, 2017 (New Year’s Day )

A Very Happy & Healthy New Year to One and All

St. Stephen the Protodeacon & First Martyr

St. Stephen is one of the most beloved saints of the Universal Church, the first person martyred for the sake of Christ’s doctrine of love.

According to the hagiographical sources he was from the royal dynasty of Judas and was the son of law-abiding parents. Still a young man he was the servant of the chief priest Kayipaya. According to the same sources when the Lord was taken to home, Stephen took off the cloth from his head and spread it under the Lord’s feet thus expressing his true and sincere love. This naturally annoyed the chief priest and he turned Stephen out. Stephen witnessed the death and burial of the Lord but rejoiced with the apostles for the Glorious Resurrection of Christ. According to St. Gregory of Tatev he went to the apostles Peter and John and was baptized. At the moment of baptism an aureole (crown) appeared on the water. After that miraculous event he was called “Stephen” meaning (crowned). From the Acts of the Apostles it is known that after the Pentecost apostles served the tables and gave subsidies to the poor. From day to day increased the number of those who believed in Christ. As the apostles were unable to meet the needs of everybody, asked their disciples to choose 7 persons of good reputation for serving the tables. According to St. Luke the Evangelist one of them was St. Stephen, “… a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). By the power received from Christ apostles ordained him deacon. Thanks to his God-granted virtues and power Stephen worked wonders. Many people tried to argue with him, but no one was as wise as Stephen. So, some ill-willing persons persuaded some people to say that Stephen scolded God and the Prophet Moses. Inciting the people, the priests and the lawyers they took Stephen to the court. In his speech in his defense Stephen proved that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and reproached the Jews for their cruelty. He was stoned out of the city and his cloths were put before a man whose name was Saul and who later became the Apostle Peter. In the beginning he persecuted Christians but later he knew the true God – Jesus Christ, and became the most zealous preacher of the Gospel. St. Stephen was the first person martyred for the sake of Christ and that’s why he is called Protomartyr.

According to the tradition Gamaliel, the teacher of the Apostle Peter, and Nicodemus, his brother, who were secret disciples of Jesus, buried the saint’s body in their farm. Soon a priest named Lukianus discovered the relics. And Pontiff Hovhan of Jerusalem put them in St. Sion. In the V century Princess Juliane found the saint’s tabernacle in Jerusalem and took it to Constantinople, and later – to Venice and buried it in the Church of St. George (St. Gevorg) island.


  • Hebrews 13: 18-25 (page 205) New Testament
  • Luke 22: 24-30 (page 79) New Testament – (Please follow the Armenian Reading in your Bible)

PRAYERS: In this season of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we give thanks for the many blessings that we enjoy. Nevertheless, there are many among us in ill health, grieving the loss of loved ones, and living in difficult circumstances. Beyond our community, the world has much unrest, and peace is not as we know it. As we enjoy the happiness and joys of this time, we ask that you please keep in your thoughts and prayers those who suffer in any of these circumstances. “Answer me when I call to you… merciful to me and hear my prayers” (Ps 4:1).

FELLOWSHIP HOUR: You are invited, long time parishioners, new members, and first time visitors, please join us after Badarak in our lovely hall for Christian fellowship, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea, and greet fellow parishioners and Der Hayr. The coffee hour begins when Der Hayr blesses the table. There are containers available to deposit your trash before leaving the hall. We appreciate your patience, cooperation, and support. Thank you.

Vanadzor is the old age home in Armenia and it can use financial help from us. The Ladies of Holy Trinity have again placed a container in the Nartex for your loose change. We will accept your loose change every Sunday until Armenian Christmas. Your donations will be sent to Armenia soon thereafter. We appreciate your support & generosity.

Schedule on New Year’s Day: On Sunday – New Year’s Day – Badarak will begin at the usual time – 10:30 am – followed by a brief Pomegranate Blessing Service. In the Armenian tradition, the pomegranate as a national symbol reflects the meaning of life, prosperity and abundance. In the Christian symbolism the pomegranate represents the bloodshed by Jesus Christ, symbolizing also the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and the diversity of God’s grace. In the interpretations of our church fathers, the pomegranate is presented that the church members are as diverse as the granules of the pomegranate but the pomegranate is covered by a solid peel, all being united in one Church. This blessing should be conducted within thirty minutes of the New Year. However, for the sake of convenience, we will be conducting this thanksgiving service following Badarak on this day. Join us as we begin the New Year in the best place to be!

REMINDER: According to the Diocesan Bylaws, membership dues are to be paid no later than December 31st each year in order to be a member in “good standing” and to be eligible to vote at the annual assembly. Any monies received after that date will be applied to the new year. For any questions regarding your status, please call the church office.

THE NICENE CREED/ HAVADAMK – This is the Profession of our Faith which is recited every Sunday moments after the Gospel is read from the altar. Sometimes it is sung, but more often it is recited by the Deacons and/or the Choir. We invite you to affirm your own “Profession of Faith” by reciting along with us. God longs for all of us to express our faith and devotion to Him.

CHURCH CALENDAR (please mark your calendars)

  • Thursday January 5th: Armenian Christmas Eve 7:00 pm followed by House Blessing: Please bring food to share during the fellowship hour
  • Friday January 6th: Armenian Christmas Service 10:30 am
  • Sunday January 8th: Service 10:30 am followed by Blessing of the Water
  • Sunday January 15th: Day of Remembrance

The Bookstore: The Bookstore is open every Sunday after Liturgy. Please stop in and browse.

COUNTRY STORE: The Country Store is open every Sunday after church services in the kitchen. All are welcome.

If you know of anyone who is a shut-in, or ill and would like a visit from Der Hayr, please call the office and give their name to Maggie our church secretary.

CHURCH ETIQUETTE: We wish to remind you, our faithful, to please maintain a quiet and contemplative manner as you approach the chancel for communion. We especially ask that you refrain from conversation while waiting your turn for communion as well as afterwards as you return to your pew. Thank you.

THE KISS OF PEACE: After the gifts of the Eucharist are brought to the Altar Table, the deacon proclaims, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” The person giving the greetings says, Kristos ee mech mer Haydnetsav – Christ is revealed amongst us. The recipient would respond, Orhnial eh Haydnootiunun Kristosee – Blessed is the revelation of Christ.

Anyone who wishes to request any Requiem Services MUST inform the office by 1:30pm Wednesday the week before. If you also want to sponsor the Fellowship Hour you MUST call Merle Santerian at 215-947-3777.

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WE ASK THAT EVERYONE KINDLY TURN OFF ALL CELL PHONES and all other such electronic devices prior to entering the sanctuary out of respect for the sanctity of our services.