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H.B. Mar Gewargis Sliwa Calls on New Iraqi President in Baghdad

On 10 September 2014 His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq and Russia called on His Excellency Dr Fuad Massum, the newly appointed President of the Republic of Iraq. Opening the meeting, the President discussed the situation affecting displaced peoples in the Nineveh Governorate and other areas controlled by ISIS describing what has occurred in the areas a disaster. His Excellency stressed that his entire efforts are being directed to protect Christians, Yazidis, Sabaeans and other minority groups and to facilitate their return to their homes. His Beatitude thanked the President for his role in aiding the suffering Christian community during the present difficult circumstances. During the colloquium, His Beatitude conveyed to His Excellency the felicitations and best wishes of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East on the occasion of His Excellency’s ascension to the high presidential office. Also presented to His Excellency during the meeting was a personal message of congratulations from His Holiness the Catholicos-Patriarch.

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H.G. Mar Paulus Benjamin Testifies at US Senate Human Rights Caucus

On 10 September 2014, His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of Eastern USA testified before the United States Senate Human Rights Caucus. The said caucus included an inaugural discussion on the Islamic State (IS), which has driven 200,000 Assyrians from their homes. The Caucus was launched by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.). Testimony was given by the following persons: • Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor • Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom • Pascale Warda with the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization • Manal Omar from the United States Institute of Peace • His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East • Sarah Margon from Human Rights Watch The full text of His Grace’s testimony is below: Senator Mark Kirk, Senator Chris Coons, Brothers and sisters, honored guests, friends: I come before you today to tell you of the horrors and difficulties my people, the Christians of Iraq, are undergoing. We are an ancient people and we have suffered much. Whether we are called Assyrian, Chaldean, or Syriacs, we are one. We are a Christian people that still speak and …

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H.G. Mar Awa Royel Addresses Washington D.C. ‘In Defence of Christians’ Summit

On 11 September 2014, His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod addressed the ‘In Defence of Christians’ summit held in Washington D.C. between 9-11 September 2014. According to ‘In Defence of Christians’, “The primary purpose of the Summit is to bring all members of the Diaspora together in a newfound sense of unity. Whether Orthodox or Catholic; Evangelical, Coptic or Maronite; Syriac, Lebanese, Chaldean or Assyrian – all Middle Eastern Christians will be called on to join together in solidarity. “This solidarity will strengthen advocacy efforts with policy makers and elected officials and make more palatable grassroots outreach to the American public. Thus united, Middle Eastern Christians will invite all people of good will to join the cause to defend the defenseless, to be a voice for those who are voiceless. “The survival of these historic Christian communities is not merely a moral imperative; it is in the interests of all nations and peoples of the West and the Middle East.” This is the text of His Grace’s speech: Your Holinesses, Your Beatitudes, Your Excellencies and Graces, Reverend Fathers, Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen: It is a great honor and privilege to be …

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U.S. Bishops Visit Office of the National Council of Churches USA

While attending the In Defense of Christians (IDC) Summit in Washington D.C., His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California, Secretary of the Holy Synod and President of CIRED, along with His Grace Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of Chicago and the Eastern USA, visited the headquarters of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) on Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 11:00 am. ​The two bishops were received by Mr. Jim Winkler, the President and General Secretary of the NCC USA. The purpose of the visit was a courtesy call, and an exchange of information regarding the plight of the Christians in Iraq and the Middle East at large. For their part, the NCC president apprised the bishops of the work of the Council among the various Churches in the US. The NCC just moved into their headquarters on Maryland Avenue in Washington D.C. ​The NCC USA was first founded in 1908 as the ‘Federal Council of Churches’, and then reorganized into the ‘National Council of Churches’ in the 1950’s. Some 40 different Churches and denominations are members of the NCC in the United States. The membership of the Assyrian Church of the East in the …

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Catholicos-Patriarch Calls 3-Day Rogation for Christians of Iraq

His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, has sent an epistle imploring all members of the church and the Assyrian nation to hold a 3 day fast (Rogation) beginning Monday the 1st of September. The purpose of this rogation is to beseech the mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ upon our Assyrian nation and all who are being persecuted in the Middle East, in particular Northern Iraq. May God accept our rogation just as He accepted the rogation of our forefathers the Ninevites.

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Director of Hong Kong based Jingjiao Fellowship Received by Catholicos-Patriarch

In the afternoon of Friday, July 4, 2014, His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, received in audience at the patriarchate Mr. David Tam, director of the Jingjiao Fellowship, who was accompanied by Mr. Faust Chan, a research student on Christianity in China. Also in attendance of the audience were: Their Graces Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California, President of CIRED and Secretary of the Holy Synod, and Mar Paulus Benjamin, Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern USA. Mr. Tam apprised His Holiness of the developments of Jingjiao since he first wrote to His Holiness in May 2009, expressing the wish to establish contact with the Church and return to communion. The highlights of events in these few years were His Grace Mar Awa’s visits to Hong Kong in 2010, and to Xian and Hong Kong in 2012. During these visits, His Grace celebrated liturgy the first times in many centuries on Chinese soil, gave seminars on history and sacraments, spoke to seminarians and scholars, and met with prelates of the various Christian Churches in the country. These visits helped raise the awareness of the Church of the East and Jingjiao, and their success …

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Inaugural Jerusalem Pilgrimage for the Metropolitan See of Sydney

On the 30th June 2014 180 Sydney and Melbourne parishioners departed Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport and travelled to the Holy Land of Jerusalem, accompanied by Rev’d Fr Narsai Youkhanis and Rev’d Fr Ninos Elya and numerous deacons. The pilgrimage took approximately ten months to organise, with the 180 attendees divided into six groups of thirty pilgrims: red, yellow, green, blue, purple and orange. Each group with its own tour guide and air-conditioned coach busses from the St Thomas Church Touring Services in different languages; English (red, blue, orange and purple) and Arabic (yellow and blue). The pilgrims were accommodated at the Ritz Hotel in Jerusalem where a full buffet was served for breakfast and dinner, and lunch was provided at different restaurants depending on the locations of the day’s schedule – all three meals’ cost covered. Aside from meals, chilled bottles of water were provided for each pilgrim throughout the day. The ten-day tour began with a free day on Tuesday the 1st July – allowing time for check-in to the hotel, relaxing and unwinding after a 30 or so hour flight from Sydney via Bangkook, Thailand. On the following day the tour schedule commenced visiting sites such as …

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New Church Consecrated in Auckland, New Zealand

Courtesy – Manukau Courier A new church is helping forge cultural roots for a small community. The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East opened its doors in Manurewa on Saturday. Father Toma K Toma, who came to New Zealand from Iran in 1992, acknowledges the church has come a long way from its early beginnings and is happy to see it thrive in South Auckland – “it’s a dream come true”, he says. People in the neighbourhood are very impressed with the new building and ask many questions, and he’s proud to share his religion and culture, he says. When he first arrived in the country only 10 families attended his services which he would run using Anglican church facilities. Now he has a congregation of more than 200 families. The Church of the East began during the early Christian missionary activity in the middle of the first century. It established itself through the regions of Mesopotamia which included areas of modern-day Iraq and Syria. The Assyrian people are the major ethnic community within the church but Father Toma says its doors are open to everyone. He hopes its facilities will be available for community events and weddings. …

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Catholicos-Patriarch Meets with Russian Orthodox Hierarch Metropolitan Hilarion in Moscow

Courtesy – Department of External Relations, Russian Orthodox Church On May 27, 2014, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, met with the Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, who is on a visit to Russia at the invitation of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. During a warm talk, His Eminence Hilarion told the high guest about the recent celebrations marking the 1025th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus’ and the changes which have taken place in the Russian Orthodox Church since the previous millennial celebrations which Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV attended. The Primate of the Assyrian Church expressed deep satisfaction at the successes of church renewal in the historical Rus’, noting that Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church constitute a spiritual and moral guideline for many traditional Christian communities in the world. He wished the Russian Orthodox Church further thriving in its service of its millions-strong flock. Special attention was given to the situation of Christians in the Middle East. His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV expressed heartfelt gratitude to Russia and personally President Vladimir Putin for his efforts to help Christians in the Middle East. He said that the stand taken by Russia …

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US Bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East Visit New Syriac Orthodox Patriarch

With the blessing of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, the bishops of the Diocese of California and the Diocese of Eastern USA paid a cordial visit to Patriarch-Elect of the Syriac Orthodox Church, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Ephrem II Karim. The cordial encounter took place on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at St. Mark’s Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in Teaneck, New Jersey. The Patriarch-Elect was attended by Rev. Dayraya Augeen Alkass, the Rev. Malfono Dr. George Kiraz, President and Founder of Beth Mardutho. His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of California and Secretary of the Holy Synod, and His Grace Mar Paulus Benyamin the Bishop of Chicago and Eastern USA were accompanied by Rev. Addai Francis, priest of Mar Mari Parish of the Assyrian Church of the East in Yonkers, New York, and Mr. Zia Givargizade. The same Mar Mari parish committee (motwa) had kindly hosted the bishops for the whole duration of their stay. During the visit of the Bishops of the Assyrian Church to the Patriarch-Elect, the official letter of felicitation and greeting by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV was handed to the new patriarch. In this letter, His Holiness also expressed …

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Grand Opening and Consecration of St Abdisho’s Church in Victoria, Australia

In a weekend of joy and adulation, the Assyrian Church of the East in Victoria, Australia has celebrated the grand opening and consecration of St Abdisho’s Church in the suburb of Coolaroo. Both events, on 3 and 4 May 2014 respectively, saw thousands of Assyrians and faithful of sister churches join the festivities for the long-awaited milestone in the life of Victoria’s Assyrian community.

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3rd Annual Rejoice Resurrection Festival Attracts Thousands in Sydney

This year’s annual Rejoice Resurrection Festival of the Assyrian Church of the East Youth Association Sydney (ACEYAS) was held on Easter Monday, 21 April 2014, with the event attracting thousands of faithful and members of the local surrounding community. In coming together to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2014’s festival found a new home, the grounds of Saint Hurmizd’s Cathedral and Saint Hurmizd Assyrian Primary School, with the new location proving a resounding success. The day was filled with fun rides and amusements, appearances by movie characters such as Captain America, Superman and the festival’s famous friendly clown. Later in the evening, well known Assyrian singers and entertainers, including Helen Isaac, Flora Simon and Ben Barkho, took to the stage and performed for hours, leaving everyone to dance the night away. A rendition of Disney’s ‘Up’ house was built with a large number of balloons hung to it as a centrepiece; this was used as a donation box with all proceeds going to the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organisation (ACERO). ACERO also provided attendees with a chance to make a difference to the lives of children and families in the Middle East by …

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Scholar Dr Erica C.D. Hunter Visits Assyrian Communities in Australia

In a visit to Australia the distinguished Syriac Studies scholar Dr Erica C.D. Hunter has visited Assyrian Church of the East communities in Victoria and New South Wales. During her visit Dr Hunter gave two lectures ‘The Christian Library from Turfan Project’. The lectures, held on 14 March 2014 at Ishtar Reception Centre in Victoria and on 22 March 2014 at Edessa Hall in New South Wales were very well attended by members of the Assyrian community and individuals from other communities. Dr Hunter’s lecture in both states was entitled ‘The Christian Library from Turfan: New Discoveries and New Dimensions for the Church of the East’. Special guests at the Melbourne lecture on 14 March 2014 were Ms Beryl Turner, Researcher and Editorial Assistant of the Syriac Language Research Centre, Whitley College at the University of Melbourne along with Syriac Studies scholar Dr Nicholas Al-Jeelo. The Sydney lecture of 22 March 2014 was graced with the presence of His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia AM, Metropolitan of Australia, New Zealand and Lebanon and the parish priests of New South Wales. Also present was the longstanding friend of the Assyrian community Professor Rifaat Ebied of the University of Sydney. ‘The Christian Library …

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India’s Voice of the East Now Available on ACN

Assyrian Church News, the official news website of the Assyrian Church of the East is pleased to announce that the Voice of the East periodical is now available on Assyrian Church News. Voice of the East is a socio-religious bi-monthly magazine published by the Assyrian Church of the East, Archdiocese of India. The present patron and publisher of the Voice of the East is His Beatitude Dr Mar Aprem, Metropolitan of Malabar and All India. The magazine was first published by the Youth Association of the Church of the East in India in October 1954 and has been published continuously since. In October 2014, it will mark its 60th anniversary. The founding editor was Mr M.P. Inasu (then General-Secretary of the Youth Association) and the first publisher was Mr Jose Davis Mooken (elder brother of the current Metropolitan of Malabar and All India). In its early years of publication, the Voice of the East also included articles in the Assyrian language. However, this has not been the case in recent years with the contents now solely in English. Assyrian Church News has made all back-issues of Voice of the East since 2010 available here for unrestricted viewing and for free …

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Metropolitan of Iraq Meets Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk in Moscow

On 20 February 2014, His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq, Russia and Jordan met with His Excellency Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s (Moscow Patriarchate) Department for External Church Relations. The meeting took place at the DECR premises. The hierarchs discussed the situation in Iraq after the events occurred in 2003, as well as the situation of Christians in the country and prospects for overcoming the crisis. Among the issues raised at the meeting was the social and political situation in Syria. Metropolitan Hilarion discussed the initiatives of the Russian Orthodox Church, aimed at defending Christian minorities in the Middle East. Also taking part in the meeting were Hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), DECR secretary for inter-Christian relations; Rev’d Alexander Vasiutin, a DECR staff member; and Rev’d Fr Samano Odisho, parish priest of St Mary’s Church, Assyrian Church of the East in Moscow.

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