Christian faith leaders gathered Saturday at the St. Paul Cathedral for an ecumenical prayer service for peace for Armenians caught up in a bloody conflict with Azerbaijan, Star Tribune reports.
The Rev. Tadeos Barseghyan, of St. Sahag Armenian Church in St. Paul, was among a half dozen faith leaders who spoke at the service, held to support the soldiers and civilians under attack in Nagorno-Karabakh (the Republic of Artsakh).
“It has been more than a month that we Armenians have had no peace, we had no rest,” said Barseghyan. “We have no sleep because our brothers and sisters in Armenia, our families in Armenia. … our friends in Armenia, are under attack.”
“Too many already died or are wounded,” he said. “Many lost their homes. Many lost their families. We need peace. That’s why we come together today, to pray for peace.”
The Armenians have been under attack since Sept. 27, when Azerbaijan forces began shelling the Republic of Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh, home to about 150,000 Armenians.
Ecumenical worship services to pray for peace have been unfolding in cities ranging from New York to Cincinnati to Philadelphia.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda, of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said that when one part of the church body is attacked, it’s an injury to all.
“While we in Minnesota are out of harm’s way from the cluster bombs that threaten human life … even here, halfway around the globe, we can all too easily fall to hatred or thoughts of revenge,” said Hebda.
Bishop Patricia Lull of the St. Paul Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) assured Barseghyan that the ELCA “is with you,’’ and called for a “lasting ceasefire” and a diplomatic solution to the strife.
“Now is the time to find a more just way for us to live together,” Lull said.
For Barseghyan and other Armenians, the attacks are a reminder of the history of genocide against the Armenian people. St. Sahag, like other Armenian churches across the world, has been fundraising for the victims of the violence. It held a candlelight vigil earlier this month and has reached out to congressional leaders to support a resolution condemning the violence.