Prelacy Mission & History
The Prelacy's mission is as old as the Armenian Church and as new as the needs of tomorrow's generation. Of course, the primary and fundamental mission of the Prelacy is religious, to teach the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Throughout the centuries, since Armenia became the first nation to accept Christianity, the Church has been the mainstay of national life regardless of the vicissitudes of history.
In fact, it was those chronic difficulties experienced by the Armenians that compelled the Church to extend its area of concern and service. As the only Armenian institution with any coherent existence and continuity during long periods of occupation, persecution and oppression, many duties devolved upon the Church, including cultural, educational, social, and even political. At times only the Church was available to preserve, protect and perpetuate the culture, customs, and community.
Today, with the existence of an independent Republic of Armenia, the focus of the Church should, and is, changing, although the basic mission remains unchanged. It still embraces the religious, the educational, the cultural, and the social in its continuing dedication to the betterment of its people.
In carrying out its duties, the Prelacy has two ancillary organizations, each with its own special area of responsibility: the Armenian Religious Education Council (AREC) and the Armenian National Education Committee (ANEC). Both are youth-oriented, and an important part of their objectives is to prepare youth for leadership roles.
The Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church is affiliated with and under the jurisdiction of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, located in Antelias, Lebanon. His Holiness Aram I is the Catholicos of the Sea of Cilicia.
The Prelacy office was re-established in New York City in 1958 and since that time the Prelacy churches in America have grown and the Prelacy has been responsible for a continuing program of community-wide activities: religious, educational, cultural, and social. Since the tragic earthquake in Armenia in 1988 and with the advent of the fall of the Soviet empire and the independence of Armenia, the Prelacy has expanded its mission into Armenia where the Prelacy currently sponsors many religious, educational, and charitable endeavors.
The Prelate and the Executive and Religious Councils oversee the implementation of the policies and directives of the National Representative Assembly (NRA) which convenes annually. Although the two councils are separate bodies, they meet jointly as a single body under the presidency of the Prelate. The Prelate is elected every four years by the NRA.
Armenia's Christian roots go back to the year A.D. 301, when the Armenians accepted Christianity as their state religion. Thus, Armenia became the world's first Christian nation. Since their conversion, the Armenians have cherished their religious heritage and have merged it with their historic culture to form an indivisible national tradition. Today, the Armenian Church, which in 2001 commemorated the 1700th anniversary of the acceptance of Christianity, continues to serve her people in the Homeland and the Diaspora and remains a vital institution in the life of the people.
Having started with a relatively small number of churches, the Prelacy originally served the entire United States and Canada. As the number of churches grew and the membership increased, especially in California, the Prelacy jurisdiction was divided into two parts, the Eastern and Western Prelacies of the United States, including Canada as part of the Eastern Prelacy. In 2002, a separate Prelacy of Canada was established. The actual area covered by the Eastern Prelacy extends from the Atlantic Coast to the Rocky Mountains. The demographic center of the Eastern Prelacy is in the North East, the Armenian population being concentrated most heavily in the U.S. Megalopolis New England to the District of Columbia.
Information from www.armenianprelacy.org website