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  • The Diocese
  • Diocesan Departments
The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia forms part of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, the center of which is in the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The Diocese is controlled according to the canons of the Bible and the Armenian Church, by the orders of the Catholicos of All Armenians. The Head of the Diocese is appointed by the order of the Catholicos of All Armenians.

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia covers the whole territory of Georgia. The Cathedral of Surb Gevorg in Tbilisi is the seat of the Primate of the Diocese. As of 2013 there are 16 clerics and 50 operating churches at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia.

The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church in Georgia unites and heads the churches operating on the territory of Georgia, guides the Armenian Christian community, and is under the authority of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia includes the communities, operating and not operating churches, located in Tbilisi, Javakheti, Adjaria and Kvemo Kartli regions.

In July of 2011 Georgian parliament adopted a law, according to which the operating in Georgia religious communities could be granted the status. In accordance with the law, on March 12, 2012 the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia was registered as a legal entity of public law at Civil Registry Agency of Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

Nowadays the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia imposes requirements on Georgian authorities about the restitution of 442 Armenian churches.  Some of them are ruined or their territory is used for the construction of other objects or they are simply changed into Georgian Orthodox Churches. The Diocese requests the restitution of Surb Norashen Astvatsatsin Church , Surb Nshan Church , Saint Gevorg of Mughni Church, Yerevantsots Saint Minas Church, Shamkhoretsots Karmir Avetaran in Tbilisi, Surb Nshan Church in Akhaltsikhe that have been confiscated during the Soviet Period. Georgian authorities have not yet responded to this request but the reconstruction of Surb Norashen Astvatsatsin Church continues.

Period of Formation of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia

According to historical sources the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia as a separate ecclesiastical unit has existed since the 5th century. This fact is proved by the 10th century Armenian historian Ukhtanes of Sebastia, who is known for his “History in Three Parts”, in the chapter  “History of the Severance of the Georgians and Armenians” he tells that already in the 5th century there was the residence of Armenian Bishop in Tsurtavi. It is remarkable that, even though Tsurtavi belonged to the Georgian Church, the Diocese there was Armenian, where from the 5th century by the order of Saint Shushanik church ceremonies were conducted in Armenian.

At the same time, it should be mentioned, that according to the 12th century Armenian historian Matthew of Edessa the greatest Georgian king David the Builder (1089-1125) gives for those times the highest status to the representation of Armenian Church in Georgia, the administrative center of which was in Tbilisi. It is assumed that the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia was founded in the 12th century. Since the 13th century the Cathedral of Surb Gevorg in Tpkhis (Tbilisi) has been the seat of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.

The Primate of the Diocese is in charge of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia

On 4 September 2002 by the order of the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II, Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan was appointed to serve as the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia. The residence of the Diocese, built in 2010, is situated at the Cathedral of Surb Gevorg in Tbilisi.

There is a consultative body to the Head of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia which is composed of:

His Grace Bishop Vazgen Mirzakhanyan – the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia,

Givi Shakhnazari – a poet and translator,

Levon Chidilyan – Head of Department of Cultural Affairs at the Armenian Diocese in Georgia and Coordinator of the Hayartun Center,

Gevorg Snkhchyan – Chairman of the Vernatun Union of Armenian Writers of Georgia,

Anahit Bostanjyan – Chairperson of the Kamurj Public Organization for the Armenian-Georgian Literary Relations

Meruzhan Shahumyan – Chairman of the Union of Armenian Artists of Georgia

Ernest Arakelov - Professor at V.Sarajishvili Tbilisi State Conservatory,

Susanna Khachaturyan - Chairperson of the Shushanik Association of Armenian Women of Georgia

Zhanna Davtyan - Headmistress of the Gary Davtyan Puppet and Culture House,

Emma Akhtyan – Chairperson of the Armenian Center for Scientific Research in Georgia,

Yenok Tadevosyan - Chairman of the Union of Armenian Intellectuals of Georgia,

Artem Kirakozov - Chairman of the Union of Armenian Musicians of Georgia,

Karine Manukyan – the national project coordinator at the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia

Isai Abovyan – a musician,

Tengiz Mikoyants – an artist.

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The Headquarters of the Diocese

Surb Gevorg Church (built in 631) in Tpkhis (Tbilisi) was the Headquarters of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia in 13th century.

The Headquarters of the Diocese is in charge of the spiritual life of Armenian population in Georgia, promotes unification of the Armenian community around the Armenian Church, organizes in the community educational, cultural and youth events, aimed at preservation of the Armenian national identity, properly celebrates every feast day of the Armenian Church, preserving the traditions and religious ceremonial observance.

The Headquarters of the Diocese also controls the activities of churches belonging to the Diocese, cooperates with the RA Embassy to Georgia, non-profit organizations and creative unions in Georgia.

Diocesan Secretariat operates at the residence as well. Gisane Hovsepyan is responsible for the Secretariat.

One of the functions of the Headquarters is the official reception of guests.

The Headquarters of the Diocese is engaged in social activities such as assisting to people in need, providing medical assistance and visiting places of confinement.

The social service is under the direction of Deacon Gevorg Antonyan.

  1. Places of confinement – person in charge, Priest Ter-Husik Harutyunyan
  2. Hospitals – person in charge, Mickael Avagyan
  3. Socially vulnerable groups – person in charge, Deacon Gevorg Antonyan

The Headquarters of the Diocese accomplishes its mission in collaboration with RA Ministry of Diaspora, RA Ministry of Culture, RA Ministry of Education and Science, RA Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Jinishyan Memorial Foundation.

Legal Affairs and Cooperation Department – Director, Mikael Avagyan

The Legal Affairs and Cooperation Department of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia deals with current legal issues, relations with government authorities, non-profit and international organizations, as well as representatives of Diplomatic Corps accredited in Georgia.

The general issues that are in agenda at this department: to achieve the restitution of Armenian churches and other church property, that have been confiscated from the Diocese during the Soviet Period; some of them are ruined or their territory is used for the construction of other objects or are simply changed into Georgian Orthodox Churches; to achieve the equal treatment of the Diocese by the Georgian government authorities based on the principle of proportionality.

The Director of the department is the member of the monitoring group at the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, which supervises the restoration of Armenian Churches Norashen, Surb Nshan and Surb Minas, and preservation of Saint Gevorg of Mughni Church and Shamkhoretsots Surb Astvatstatsin Church, confiscated from the Diocese in the Soviet Period.

Therewith under the jurisdiction of the Department is the determination and presentation of the Diocesan position in the Council of Religions at Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church and in Council of Religions at the Office of Public Defender (Ombudsman) of Georgia, as well as relations with interdepartmental government committee on research of selected issues concerning religious organizations.

Analytical Research and PR Center, Center for Research on Armenian Historical and Cultural Heritage of Georgia and Social services operate within the department.

a. Analytical Research and PR – Deacon Gevorg Antonyan

b. Research on Armenian Historical and Cultural Heritage of Georgia – Diana Ter-Bagdasarova

c. Social services - Deacon Gevorg Antonyan

d. The department is in charge of protocol - related issues.  

e. Armenian Community Census Center in Georgia – person in charge, executive secretary, Innessa Sarukhanyan

In parallel with this the department is engaged in activities related to the consolidation and development of the Armenian community of Georgia. Volunteers participate in the Armenian population census at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia. Almost twenty young people register new Armenians, collect data about people. This so called census helps to gain a more complete picture of Armenians in Tbilisi and Georgian regions, and of course this approach helps to bring together Armenians around the Armenian Church and the “Hayartun” Center.

Mikael Avagyan is the Head of the Department.

 Mikael Avagyan is a lawyer, who gained wide experience while working in non-governmental organizations. Many times he has taken the initiative to establish and manage activities of different organizations. It’s worth mentioning his work as the leader of the National Congress of Armenians in Georgia and “Shen” non-governmental Georgian organization. He participated in various international training programs and has worked as an expert. E-mail: Misha_avak@yahoo.com

Department of Youth Affairs – director Valeri Badalian

Department of Youth Affairs aims to unite the Armenian youth of Georgia around the Church, to promote Armenian education and inculcate a sense of commitment to the lofty ideals of preservation of national identity. The Association of Church Youth Groups serves exactly that purpose. Day after day the activities of youth groups develop and get wide range.

One of the goals of the Department of Youth affairs is to raise young leaders. In this regard different seminars and conferences are being organized, in which the young people from the capital and Armenian-inhabited regions participate. Similar seminars, training programs and conferences contribute to revitalization of the community, organization of events, and help to make the day of young people in the region and village interesting and informative.

The Department of Youth Affairs is also interested in civic education of the youth. Weekly lecture series on the history of the Armenian Church and Armenian people, and on civic education, organized at the “Hayartun” Center, promote to clear explanation of human rights and responsibilities and help to integrate into Georgian civil society. The youth from different Georgian regions goes on pilgrimage, visits historical places, Armenia and Artsakh.

The activities of the youth groups include: the unification of the Armenian youth studying at different universities, the work with school youth groups, the organization of summer camps and participation in scouting programs, the activities of Amateur youth groups of songs and dances, different sports events for the Hayartun Cup of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia.

The patriotic duty of the youth organization is to take care of the Tbilisi Pantheon of the Armenian Writers and Public Figures “Khojivanq”. Voluntary groups of young people organize clean-up activities, plant trees, take care of the Pantheon.

The Youth Department has sub-departments, the managers of which coordinate the work, create new projects, and maintain program development and implementation. Such as:

Students’ Union – person in charge, Nina Seropova,

Ari Tun”, summer camp programs and scouting – person in charge, Valeri Badalian,

Taron” song and dance youth ensemble – person in charge, Suren Abramyan.

The Youth Department has following sub-departments in it:

1. Physicians’ Club

2. Young Historians’ Club

Hayartun” football cup and “Tigran Petrosyan” chess cup tournaments are being held on regular basis.  

The Department of Youth Affairs at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia is in close cooperation with Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and with the Ministry of Culture, Education and Science of Georgia. It also has strong connections with RA Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, RA Ministry of Diaspora, RA Ministry of Culture, participates in their programs, and implements joint projects.

The department head Valeri Badalian graduated from Georgian Technical University, he is a professional web designer and programmer, is in charge of the Electronic media service at the Press and Media Department. Is active, has practical experience and love for social work, is a good manager and young leader, easily guides the work with young people and takes an active part in it. Email:valeri.badalian@armenianchurch.ge

Press and Media Department – headed by Susanna Khachaturyan

Press and Media Department of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia provides coverage of activities at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia and the “Hayartun” Center, information organization and distribution in four languages, as well as conducts preaching activities in order to familiarize community with spiritual values, Christian sacraments and church activities. The press service activities include organization of TV and radio stories, articles on spiritual topics in Print and Electronic media. The press service also adds information in different languages to the website of the Diocese, is in charge of news posting, online material update, organization of announcements and invitations. Newsroom through its electronic pages in four languages spreads news about the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, about meetings, visits, pious activities and charitable endeavors of the Catholicos of All Armenians, His Holiness Karekin II. The department informs a wider audience about diverse activities of other communities and Dioceses in Diaspora. The department actively collaborates with other mass media and periodically provides coverage of social programs implemented by the clergy, feasts and sacraments of the Church, opinion of clergymen and their attitude to social issues. The press center publishes and distributes sermon booklets regarding religious holidays, sacraments, and youth unions. The press center is responsible for the official web-pages of the Diocese:

A.www.armenianchurch.ge

B. hayartun@armenianchurch.ge

C. www.facebook.com/officialhayartun

D. www.odnoklassniki.ru/officialhayartun

E. www.youtube.com/user/Hayartun

The translation of the articles into Georgian, Russian and English is made by qualified specialists. Zoia Mkhitaryan, well-known specialist of Armenian and Georgian languages, one of the teachers of the “Georgian Language Learning Project” at Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University is responsible for the translation of the articles into Georgian. The translation into Russian is made by the skillful translator Marina Sargsyan. The translation into English is provided by Lilit Hakobyan, graduate of French University in Armenia, lawyer by profession.

The Electronic media service supports the rapid spread of information and provides feeds for news agencies and information sources, as well as advance notification of events at the Diocese via SMS.

Press and Media Department makes a video news report. Video stories lasting from 4 to 8 minutes are created and posted on the webpage and in social networks. The photograph and cameraman Gevorg Poghosov takes shots and is in charge of shooting, cutting and placing the video materials on the Diocese’s website and social network.

The Press and Media Department provides videos and other materials to the RA First Public, “Shoghakat”, “Armenia TV”, “Shant” and “Kentron” channels.

Susanna Khachaturyan is in charge of Press and Media Department. She has almost 40 years’ work experience in mass media. For many years she has been in charge of Armenian program on Georgian Public Broadcasting TV, was the moderator of the Armenian program on regional television. E-mail: shushanik1996@mail.ru

 

Cultural department – headed by Levon Chidilyan

The main purpose of Cultural Department is to preserve and develop the national art in Georgia, to properly present the achievements, to pass folk customs and traditions to future generations, and to deepen the Armenian-Georgian centuries-old cultural relations. The “Hayartun” Educational Cultural and Youth Center, the “Rafael Javakh” Educational Cultural and Youth Center in Ninotsminda, the Alexander Mantashev Educational Cultural and Youth Center in Batumi are under the auspices of the Cultural Department, which organizes and coordinates the activities of different cultural groups, brings talented people together and unites them around the center, arranges the local and large-scale events, etc. The Cultural Department is in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Georgia, the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia, Tbilisi City Hall, with the local and cultural non-profit organizations, with RA Ministry of Culture and RA Ministry of Diaspora, takes an active part in their projects, as well as initiates different events. The Cultural Department supports the organization of different events in Armenian-inhabited regions, takes care of formation and development of cultural groups in the regions.

The department was formed in 2005. It brightened up the cultural life of the Diocese. The organization of events dedicated to Median day of Lent, Tyarndarach, Feast of Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, International Children’s day, May Holydays, Vardavar, and Sayat-Nova “Rose Festival” has already become a tradition.

The Cultural department successfully worked on gathering different ensembles and artistic groups of Tbilisi and assuring their participation in festivals, contests   and other events organized in Georgia and Armenia.

One of the major activities of the Department is the promotion of the Armenian cultural life in the regions inhabited by Armenians. For that purpose artistic groups are created on sites for that purpose, which take part in various events.

The department head Levon Chidilyan graduated from Shota Rustaveli Theatre and Film Georgian State University. He started his career as a film and theatre actor. With all his acting skills he faithfully contributes to the development of Armenian culture in Georgia, to strengthening of Armenian-Georgian cultural relations. Email: leonnapoleon@mail.ru

Head of the Department of Education – Eugenia Markosyan

An unalterable condition of preservation of the Armenian gene pool is to preserve and transfer the Armenian language, writing system, literature, faith and culture to successive generations.

The main aim of the Department of Education at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia is to preserve the Armenian national identity.

The Department of Education is responsible for “St Movses Khorenatsi” Preschool, “Khrimyan Hayrik” Kindergarten in Arakova village of Akhalkalaki region, Tbilisi “St Yeghia” Sunday school and Tbilisi “St Gregory of Narek” Saturday school, Batumi “St Mesrop Mashtots” School, Qobuleti “Vramshapuh” School and Ozurgeti “Sahak Parthev” School.

For many decades there were no preschool institutions in Tbilisi. In October 2011 at the initiative and under patronage of the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia the St. Movses Khorenatsi Kindergarten was founded, with 8 students in it. There are 50 kids in the kindergarten at present. There are two - junior and senior groups in the kindergarten. Three teachers and one nanny are responsible for children’s upbringing. A day starts with Our Father Prayer and blessing of the clergy.

The principal objective of the Kindergarten is to maintain and strengthen physical, moral and spiritual health of the children, to take care of harmonious development of children and their education. Besides, our main goal is to prepare and send children to Armenian schools.

There are one-day schools of Armenian language at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia, that are aimed at introducing Armenians with their mother tongue, history of the Armenian Church and the Armenian people.

Twenty years ago the Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia, His Eminence Archibishop Gevorg Seraydaryan, of Blessed memory, established Sunday schools in Tbilisi.

After the opening of “Hayartun” Center at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia the activities at one-day schools revived. The center became a major factor in bringing Armenians close to their roots. There are 200 Armenians of different age studying at one-day schools for today.

The one-day school program consists of two years of study. Upon completion of the program students receive a certificate.

One-day Schools:

Tbilisi “St Gregory of Narek” Saturday school – teacher Tamara Gaboyan,

Tbilisi “St Yeghia” Sunday school – teacher Roza Zohrabyan,

Batumi “St Mesrop Mashtots” School – teachers Satenik Danielyan and Sona Hovhannisyan

Qobuleti “Vramshapuh” School – teacher Gayane Vardanyan,

Ozurgeti “Sahak Parthev” School – teacher Satenik Danielyan.

“St Movses Khorenatsi” Preschool – person in charge, Eugenia Markosyan. The following subject teachers are responsible for the education process:

Literacy and speech development – Eugenia Markosyan

Mathematics, World around us, Dance – Aksana Sharoyan

Religious education and Fine arts in junior group – Metaqsia Ghazaryan

Singing in senior group – Maria Abulyan

Eugenia Markosyan, the Head of the Department of Education at the Armenian Diocese in Georgia – is a teacher. While still a student, she worked as a teacher in a primary school of Tbilisi № 110 Public School. Later she began working as an organizer and as a teacher of Armenian Language and Literature at № 95 Public School.

After the Preschool’s opening at the “Hayartun” Center, she started to work there as a teacher and as a person in charge. She is the Head of the Department of Education at present.

E-mail: evgenia.markosyan@armenianchurch.ge

The following Armenian schools function in Tbilisi and other regions, with ethnically Armenian inhabitants:

Tbilisi Armenian Public School № 104

Armenian departments at Tbilisi Public Schools № 103 and № 132

Armenian public schools operate in Akhaltsikhe, Aspindza, Akhalkalaki, Ninotsminda municipalities of Samtskhe-Javakheti region and in Marneuli, Tsalka, Tetritskaro, Bolnisi municipalities of Kvemo Kartli region and nearby villages.

The teachers of aforementioned educational institutions undergo annual training for teachers, organized by the RA Ministry of Education and Science and the RA Ministry of Diaspora.

Finance Department – Director, Margarita Kirakosyan

The finance department is responsible for accounting services of the Headquarters of the Diocese and of Khojivanq pantheon, the “Hayartun” and the “Vernatun” Centers and church bookkeeping.

The Finance Department of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Holy Church in Georgia organizes the accounting affairs of the residence of the Head of the Diocese, Diocesan structures, Surb Gevorg Church and Surb Etchmiadzin Church in Tbilisi, Surb Prkich Church in Batumi, Surb Prkich Church in Shamshulda of Tetritskaro region, the Chapel Srbots Avetaranchats (the Holy Evangelists) in village Tsiteli of Marneuli region and Surb Astvatsatsin Church of Shahumyan settlement, accounting, the preparation and presentation of appropriate accounts of retail sales, control of inventory of fixed assets and warehouse, and any other financial transaction of the Diocese.

The Finance Department on time prepares annual budget, financial projects, the programs of target financing of the Diocese, and submits for approval to the relevant organizations, Ministries and the Board of Trustees of the Diocese.

The Finance Department presents to the Head of the Diocese financial reports of monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual financial activities, accounting of financial and fulfilled works of target financing, prepares annual and semi-annual report on financial activities and presents at the end of the year at the meeting of the Diocese. In due time ensures the implementation of financial transaction on the basis of appropriate documentation.

Alisa Grigoryan is responsible for keeping the books of the “Hayartun” Cultural-Educational Center.

Margarita Kirakosyan, the Director of Finance Department and the staff manager, received higher education.

She has 40-year work experience. She started her career as a worker, upon graduation worked as an engineering manager, department head. From 1996 to 2000 simultaneously worked as a payroll accountant at the Centre of Christian Education and Preaching of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and as a chief accountant – at the Diocese of Aragatsotn. Since 2002 has been working at the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia. E-mail: margarita.stepaevna@mail.ru­­

Administrative and Economic Department – Director, Karen Yeritsyan

Functions of the Administrative and Economic Department include organization and supervision of construction and restoration work at operating and not operating churches in Armenian-inhabited Georgian regions, in due time solution of upcoming issues and systematic support for the task accomplishment. The department is also responsible for the organization of sanctification of new and reconstructed churches.

For today the department is in charge of the major repair of the Cathedral of Surb Gevorg and of the start of Norashen Church’s reconstruction works. Administrative and Economic Department also implements the maintenance of Khojivanq pantheon, the reconstruction of “Vernatun” center at Hovhannes Tumanyan’s house in Tbilisi and the construction works of Educational, Cultural and Youth Center named after Alexander Mantashev in Batumi.

Due to organized and consistent work of Administrative and Economic Department with insignificant schedule change the ceremonies of sanctification and resanctifacion are conducted.

The functions of the department include solution of economic issues and objectives of the Diocese in due time, organized delivery service, motor transport service and storehouse.

As a result of everyday good work organization the efficient and well-coordinated Diocesan activities are maintained.

Karen Yeritsyan, an experienced organizer and wise manager of a household, is in charge of Administrative and Economic Department, has many years’ work experience in this field. He is an assembly fitter of radio equipment, and takes his responsibilities seriously. Administrative and Economic Department includes: motor transport service and storehouse, Security, Delivery service, construction, restoration and economic service of the Diocesan and church structures, sanitary engineers and cooks of the Diocesan structures. Email: Karen.ericyan@mail.ru