‘The Unnamed Crime’

‘The Unnamed Crime’

Back in 2015 the full Assembly of the Uniting Church resolved to ‘affirm the value of recognising a date on or near the anniversary of the Armenian genocide as a day of observance and commemoration’.  Among a number of accompanying resolutions, it also requested that the National Consultant, Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship to prepare ‘a prayer to be provided for all congregations of the Uniting Church for use on the day’ – and, in consultation with others, provide ‘educational and liturgical resources for congregations to use’.

The date usually set aside for such observance is 24 April. 

In a number of ways this initiative taken by the Assembly was highly significant. There is an iconic relevance to the place of the Armenian nation in the unfolding tradition of the Christian faith. It is so especially at a time when the regions of the Middle East and the Caucuses are in such turmoil and many lives continue to be lost. 

In 301 (a long time ago now) Armenia became the first Christian nation in the world. The word genocide was not invented until 1943. What we now know as the Armenian Genocide occurred during and immediately after the first world war. Winston Churchill called it the ‘unnamed crime’; Great Britain, France and Russia described at the time as a crime against humanity and civilisation.

The Turkish government of those days oversaw the wholesale killing of able-bodied males and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and the infirm on death marches leading into the Syrian desert. It is estimated that 1.5 million people died and a further one million people were displaced.

In our Synod we have an Arminian congregation at Willoughby and a couple of Armenian ministers in service. They are testimony to the resilience and the possibility of new life in diaspora.

Those resolutions of the Assembly have rarely been observed. And yet this initiative – along with one seeking to commend to the state government that it should acknowledge the genocide and encourage the federal government to do so led the Uniting Church to be awarded a Freedom Award bestowed by the Armenian National Committee of Australia.

In order to honour those Assembly resolutions, we are providing you with a prayer and a hymn for the occasion. Your support and solidarity in continuing times of difficulty is appreciated.

Our current observance of the original Armenian Genocide is happening at a time of further ethnic cleansing. Last September 120,000 Armenians were forced to leave their homes in the ancestral lands of Artsakh following ten months of a blockade enforced by neighbouring Azerbaijan. They have become the latest waves of refugees. 

Armenian Martyrs’ Day Prayer

Our loving and gracious Heavenly Father, for all those who stood firm in their Christian faith in the face of persecution, exile and death.

We praise You, O God.

For all who endured the genocide,

We praise You, O God.

For all those Armenian men, women and children who were deported, driven in death marches, and massacred mercilessly because they refused to deny Christ,

We lift up our cries to You, O God.

For all those who directly or indirectly participated in the murder of this small Christian nation and washed their hands saying, “I am innocent of their blood,”

We lift our cries to You, O God.

For all those who continue to trample on truth, justice and human rights,

We lift our cries to You, O God.

That this nation may not perish bur prosper under Your fatherly care,

We pray to You, O God.

That You may uproot from our hearts every trace of hatred and the spirit of vengeance.

We pray to You, O God.

That those of us who are the descendants of those noble martyrs may have a deep sense of gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility.

We pray to You, O God.

That we may recognize they died for their faith that we might live for it,

We pray to You, O God.

Grant that we may value the freedom and the security we are privileged to enjoy in this beautiful country.

Hear our prayer, O God.

Grant that Your power of resurrection may inspire us to live as a righteous people prepared for every good work,

Hear our prayer, O God.

Grant that we may be a compassionate, forgiving and loving people.

Hear our prayer, O God, and grant us a right spirit. Amen!

Rev. Dr Clive Pearson


2 thoughts on “‘The Unnamed Crime’”

  1. Sylvia Iskenderian

    Dear Dr. Rev. Clive Pearson
    I humbly thank you for creating this powerful and emotional prayer.
    As a direct descendent of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, I am deeply touched by your
    gesture of love and understanding of the plight of the Armenian people.
    May God bless you and hear your prayer and render peace and justice to my long suffering Armenian nation.
    Thank you Reverend.

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