Category Archives: Torture

A Universalist witness to the Armenian genocide

The Armenian genocide began in 1915, so in anticipation of the centennial, I’m reprinting this witness — towards the end of the genocide — from the April 15, 1922 issue of the Universalist Leader. (I’m not sure what else to call it but “witness,” and the people of 1921 don’t have the language we do to describe atrocities.)

This is a powerful prayer: learn from it. The references to orphanages demand research. There was a Sunday School fundraiser for a “Near East Appeal” and at least three congregations survive that gave then. Thanks and praise to the parishes in (West) Hartford, Connecticut; Franklin, Massachusetts; and Haverhill, Massachusetts.

There are other witnesses, and I will lift them up as I find them.

But was this a remote act of sympathy? Perhaps not so remote. If you are in Providence this General Assembly, be sure to tour First Universalist Church. It’s quite near the convention center and the minister — Scott Axford — is a friend; he plans on giving tours then. He once gave me a tour and pointed out the typically Armenian names on a memorial plaque, pointing to a lost and little-known Armenian chapter in our history.

A PRAYER FOR ARMENIA

Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us by Thy blood and made us unto our God kings and priests. (Rev. 5: 9-10). Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus… Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Heb. 10: 19-22.)

ALMIGHTY God who by Thy grace hast not only called us out of darkness into light but hast called us into the Blessed Service of Intercession, we come to Thee with accord on behalf of the people of Armenia. We pray that Thou Thyself wilt undertake their cause, and with great might succor them. We remember the many thousands who, rather than deny Thy Name, have suffered torture and death, and we give Thee thanks for all who have by Thy grace endured and are now in Thy presence, and we ask Thee, for those who remain in the fiery trial of their prolonged agony, to stand by them and strengthen them and grant them a clearer vision of Thee and deliverance from their sufferings. Send them what they need for their material wants–protect the fatherless and widows–remember the orphans still without home or shelter.

Bless the children in the orphanages whom Thou hast committed to our care and those who are giving their lives to help and save them. We thank Thee for all Thy servants laboring for Thee, who have been true to Thy name. Strengthen and bless all by whatever name they are called, who contribute of their substance to feed the hungry and to provide shelter and care for the sick and the helpless.

Give wisdom to all who are seeking to help the Armenians in any way, whether spiritually, politically or materially, give courage and a spirit of responsibility to our statesmen, deliver our country and all who are called Christian from blood-guiltiness, through apathy or fear. Bless all who are serving Thee, and may all our service be lifted on to a higher plane of selflessness and sacrifice through the power of the Holy Spirit of him who came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many. In whose Name and through whose merits we offer our prayer and praises, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Adapted from the Armenian Liturgy.)