Garabed, pastor of the 3,000 member St. John Armenian Orthodox Church near Detroit, says his tradition bespeaks God’s faithfulness and gift of strength through adversity that has kept the church alive, even today, to a new generation.
In this interview Fr. Garabed talks about the relevance of Orthodox themes of mystery, imagination, and spirituality for today’s Christians. Be fed by the wisdom of this wonderful saint.
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Beneath the centuries of tradition and ritual that can complicate Orthodox worship lies a simple yearning for God that remains unchanged. Here are my notes from the interview:
Finding God in Suffering
Through serious trials, most recently the Armenian genocide, many Armenian Orthodox have found their faith. Garabed says keeping faith through suffering is Christianity’s most enduring, if not most effective, form of evangelism. In a world that shuns suffering, Christians stand out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Repeatedly Explain
There are few Christian traditions as complicated (and beautiful) as the Armenian Orthodox, that’s why Garabed says it’s so important to keep explaining (and re-explaining) how the tradition meets us in everyday life. What rituals in your church need continued explanation?
Seeing God in Art and Architecture
Embracing the mystery of God defies words, but invites the arts. Garabed says the rich investment in aesthetics is about Sacrament – and helping people commune with God in edifying ways.
About Garabed Kochikian
Reverend Father Garabed Kochakian holds the rank of archpriest in the Armenian Orthodox Church and is Pastor of St. John Armenian Church of Greater Detroit. He has served as Diocesan Chancellor and Ecumenical Officer of the Diocese of the Armenian Church in America. He has also served as the Pastor of Saint Mesrob Armenian Church in Racine, Wisconsin, and the Armenian Church of Our Saviour in Worcester, Massachusetts first as Deacon-in-Charge, then as Assistant Pastor and Pastor.
Father Garabed was born in Salem, Massachusetts. He has studied at the Vesper George School of Art, the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts, Iona College, St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He holds a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of Wisconsin with a specialization in Armenian Art and Architecture.
He has served as an Ecumenical Officer representing the Armenian Church on the National Council of Churches General Board. He currently serves on the National Bilaterial Consultation of the Oriental Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, and is a member of the Standing Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches in the U.S.A. Fr. Kochakian has authored many publications including church school manuals, a series of tracts on the hymns of the Divine Liturgy, and other publications, including The Four Minor Orders, The Sacraments published by Vartan Press. Rev. Kochakian enjoys painting Armenian Illuminations and Icons for churches, and also lectures on Armenian Art and Illuminated Manuscripts. Father Garabed is married to Roberta Carman Kochakian.