Members of St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church in Charlotte witnessed North Carolina religious history Sunday with the ordination of their deacon, Benjamin Rith-Najarian, to the holy priesthood. It was the first time an Armenian priest has ever been ordained in the state.
Presiding over the sacred service in the church on Park Road was New York-based Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, who heads the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.
About 150 Charlotte families call St. Sarkis their spiritual home, and Rith-Najarian is their pastor. The church is one of 62 parishes and missions in the Eastern Diocese. The Armenian Church of America is an Orthodox Christian church whose members trace their roots to Armenia, a country at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Armenia adopted Christianity as its official religion in the year 301, and the national church is one of the world’s oldest. Tim Funk