National prayer and Clergy meeting at the Armenian Diocese in Georgia
Today, on March 18th, 2020, in accordance with the exhortation of Catholicos of All Armenians, national prayer was offered both in all churches in Armenia and the Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi. Under the presidency of the Vicar of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia, Rev. Father Archimandrite Kirakos Davtyan, and with the participation of priests and deacons of Tbilisi city, as well as Diocesan officials, the faithful in attendance prayed asking Almighty God to strengthen them against the coronavirus which spread worldwide and Georgia as well; they also prayed for healing of people who were infected with the virus.
At the conclusion of the Service, a clergy meeting was held at the Diocesan Headquarters. The agenda of the meeting was manly dedicated to the issues of organization of church ceremonies and rituals in Diocesan churches in the context of the fight against the coronavirus. Catholicos of All Armenians had conveyed relevant instructions in advance regarding the particular circumstances of the churches' activities during the pandemic.
In the line with the same decision, appropriate approaches were established for the activities of the churches of the Armenian Diocese in Georgia. It should be noted that all decisions will not contradict the rules of the Armenian Apostolic Holy Church, and the church ceremonies, which have undergone certain changes, aim to maintain the normal functioning of church life while following the most important approaches to the fight against the pandemic. In accordance with the decisions:
- All churches continue to be open every day from 9:00 to 19:00.
- Divine Liturgies will continued to be celebrated during the Great Lent period, but we urge vulnerable groups, all elderly, people who are at higher risk, as well as those faithful who use public transport, to stay home and participate in liturgies praying from home.
- The open Divine Liturgy on the occasion of the Feast of Commemoration of St. Gregory the Illuminator’s torments and commitment to the pit (March 28) is canceled.
- Divine Liturgies on the occasion of Palm Sunday and all subsequent feasts will be held.
- During the open liturgies, particularly, during the Holy Communion service, as before, the wet towels used by priests will be soaked with alcohol, and the priest who will be offering the service, will wipe his fingers after giving the sacrament to each faithful. At the beginning and at the conclusion of the liturgies, the ritual items used by clergymen will be disinfected, in particular, the chalice and paten.
- During the liturgies, some church customs will undergo certain changes. Particularly, the custom of faithful to hug and kiss welcoming each other will be replaced by the blessings offered by priests; the custom of kissing the Cross and Holy Gospels will be replaced by the priest putting the Cross on the heads of the faithful.
- The Sacrament of Baptism will be offered only if the faithful desire it strongly and the ceremony will be held only with the participation of parents of the baptized person and the godfather. During the Baptism the priests will use disinfectant towels.
- In the case of funerals, the ceremonies will be offered only in graveyards, and not in the deceased's houses or halls. We urge the mourners to gather in graveyards with no more that 20 relatives avoiding memorial gatherings for meal.
- Although all churches and offices have already been disinfected by specialists, every day cleaners will disinfect all doors of churches and those parts which people touch.
The Armenian Diocese in Georgia will continue to follow all the instructions given by Georgian State Authorities and in accordance with them will apply appropriate measures.
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