One of the highlights of the cultural calendar of Dallas is the annual ArmeniaFest. It is a celebration of colors, food, dance, music, spirituality, and rich history of one of the oldest nations of the world.
Here is the historian of the community, Mary Mukhtarian, explains the Armenian Desk of The Dallas Telegraph newspaper the role of the Church in ArmeniaFest and in the life of the Armenian community of Dallas.
— St. Sarkis Orthodox Church is the heart of the Festival. Tell us about the role of the Church in the life of the Armenian community of Dallas.
— Any Armenian can not exist as an Armenian if the Church is not in the center of their universe. Every person who is Armenian, is a Christian, because that is the only way we can be defined as Armenian. Armenians are those who follow Christianity, who believe that Jesus is their Savior, who follow the Armenian history and use the Armenian language. These things make us Armenians. Every time Armenians come together, they always build a church. None of the Armenians can exist without having a church for their community. So the church is really the beating heart of any Armenian community.
St. Sarkis is no different, and here, in Dallas, the Armenian community had started coming together at least 25 or more years ago. In the beginning, they had to worship in other churches. Soon, however, they decided to have their own Church through the generosity of many parishioners, including Dr. Sarkis Kechejian. The St. Sarkis church brought the community together even more, and everyone began attending events and liturgy every Sunday.
We currently have a dynamic priest, Father Ghevond Ajamian, who came to us five years ago, and who has been able to provide the spiritual guidance and warm community atmosphere needed in every church. St. Sarkis is important to us not only as a spiritual entity, but as a cultural center of the community as well. Culture does not exist if you do not have a center to anchor it. In our community in Dallas we have fantastic painters, singers, and dancers, and at the Church they all have the opportunity to display their art and talent.
In 2015 we had an evening of “Travel with Me to Armenia” in Plano, and it was preceded by a big art exhibit of the works of our local Armenian artists. It was a unique event that had not happened before, and we hope it would be the first of many.