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CATHOLIC, PROTESTANT AND ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
WILL HONOR WORLD'S FIRST CHRISTIAN NATION -- ARMENIA
AT WASHINGTON'S NATIONAL CATHOLIC SHRINE ON MAY 30, 2001

Leaders from America’s Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian communities will gather at Washington’s Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Wednesday, May 30, to honor a unique milestone in the history of the Christian religion.

An ecumenical prayer service will mark the 1700th anniversary of Armenia’s conversion to Christianity. That event took place in A.D. 301, and distinguished the Armenians as the world’s first Christian nation—preceding the Emperor Constantine’s "Edict of Milan" by a dozen years. The world’s 7 million Armenian Apostolic Christians are celebrating the anniversary in the Republic of Armenia and throughout the world.

The milestone has inspired two of America’s leading Christian organizations—the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.—to join the Armenian Church of America in sponsoring the May 30 event—aptly titled "Walking Together in the Light of Our Lord."

The May 30 service was announced this month in a letter signed by Cardinal William H. Keeler, the Archbishop of Baltimore (representing the National Conference of Catholic Bishops); the Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the New York-based Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.

The letter announced that His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos (pontiff) of the worldwide Armenian Church, would be the honored guest at the May 30 service. Catholicos Karekin (elected to that office in 1999) will be in the capital as part of his first pontifical visit to his North American flock.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, will host the service. Ambassador Andrew Young, President of the National Council of Churches, and Cardinal Keeler will be the main speakers.

The service will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30. The Shrine is located at the corner of Fourth Street and Michigan Avenue, N.E. in Washington, D.C.  A lecture on the history of the Armenian Church will precede the service in the Shrine's Crypt Church at 4:00 p.m.  The service is open to the public. Media are invited to attend.

Return to NCC May 30-31 Executive Board News Alert

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