The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Annual Banquet was held on October 17, 2010 at the Hackensack Golf Club in Oradell, NJ with over 230 guests from all over the world. The event was especially planned to honor Robert M. Morgenthau, Esq., former District Attorney of New York County and special friend of Armenians; to introduce Levon Filian, the new Executive Director of the AMAA; and to announce Phase II of the AMAA Capital Campaign.
The theme for the Banquet was captured in the following quotations presented during the evening: “Life is about making a commitment to a cause in which you believe.” Robert M. Morgenthau, Esq., “Everything we do, we do for everyone. Our mission transcends political and denominational boundaries.” Levon Filian
Following the Invocation by Rev. Berj Gulleyan, Pastor of the Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus, Anita Buchakjian, Co-Chair of the Banquet, welcomed the guests and enthusiastically shared her thoughts on becoming involved in the organization. “Giving is easy, it takes commitment to serve,” said Mrs. Buchakjian, whose family has been involved with AMAA for many years.
Lucienne Aynilian, Co-Chair of the Banquet, introduced AMAA Board Member Peter Kougasian, Esq., who served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Mr. Kougasian introduced and recognized the dignitaries and special friends of the AMAA who were present. Greetings were expressed by Hrair Steven Aharonian, M.D., AMAA President, and by Garen Nazarian, Armenian UN Ambassador.
Jeanmarie Papelian, Esq., AMAA Board Member and Chair of the Armenian Children’s Milk Fund, spoke of the success of the Milk Fund Program, which was founded 20 years ago to save the lives of thousands of children in Armenia and Karabagh. As a member of the Development Committee, she also announced Phase II of the AMAA’s Capital Campaign, which is being kicked off with a pledge of $5 million in matching funds from Edward and Pamela Avedisian toward the construction of a new campus for the Avedisian School in Yerevan. Ms. Papelian challenged the group to support the Capital Campaign in the coming months. Phase I of the Campaign, which raised over $11 million, supported the AMAA’s summer camps in Lebanon, Armenia and Karabagh, the purchase and renovation of the AMAA Headquarters in Armenia, the completion of the Heritage Building at Haigazian University in Beirut; and the AMAA internship program in Armenia.
Mr. Kougasian, who worked for Mr. Morgenthau for 30 years in the District Attorney’s Office in New York, introduced Mr. Morgenthau, whose grandfather served as United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire under President Woodrow Wilson and championed the cause of the Armenian people during the Genocide.
“For five generations, the Morgenthau family has kept alive the spirit of moral righteousness,” said Mr. Kougasian. “For example, Mr. Morgenthau, who is also Chairman of the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan, made sure that the diplomatic cable that contained the famous words ‘a campaign of race extermination is in progress’ is currently on display in an exhibition on the Morgenthau family at the Museum.” Following Mr. Morgenthau’s presentation, Mr. Kougasian, along with AMAA Executive Director Levon Filian, presented Mr. Morgenthau with a beautiful crystal bowl from Armenia in appreciation for all he and his family have done for the Armenian people and for his presence at the AMAA Annual Meeting Banquet.
Mr. Morgenthau reflected on the commitment that both his father and grandfather had for human rights. He said “life is about making a commitment to a cause in which you believe.” He pointed out that it was because the world failed to remember adequately the Armenian Genocide which allowed Hitler to believe that he could commit the crime of genocide with impunity.
The AMAA was honored by the presence of representatives from The Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, The Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the United Nations, The Armenian General Benevolent Union, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, and the Armenian American Health Professional Organization.
The Merlin Virtuosi Ensemble provided beautiful Armenian classical and Christian music and song throughout the evening.
Mr. Filian thanked the guests for their support and challenged them to continue their participation in AMAA activities with greater enthusiasm. He said that “everything we do, we do for everyone. Our mission transcends political and denominational boundaries. We also cooperate with all benevolent, philanthropic and Christian organizations.”
The program concluded by singing the Lord ’s Prayer “Hayr Mer” in Armenian. The Benediction was offered by Rev. Harout Selimian, President of the Armenian Evangelical World Council.
The AMAA was founded in Worcester, MA in 1918 and incorporated in New York in 1920 with the purpose of strengthening and supporting the Armenian people in their Christian faith and to encourage religious education as well as literary and philanthropic work. Since its founding, the AMAA has expanded its programs of educational, evangelistic, relief, social services, church and child care ministries to 24 countries around the world. For further information about the AMAA ministries, please go to http://www.amaa.org or call the AMAA headquarters at 201-265-2607.