Opening of the new Armenian Genocide Museum in Byblos

General September 3, 2015

(Bonn, 01.09.2015) On the occasion of the opening of the new Genocide Museum in Byblos, Lebanon and the official centennial commemoration of the Armenian genocide held by the Armenian Orthodox Church, the World Evangelical Alliance assured the gathering of patriarchs and leaders of churches from the Middle East that they can count on the solidarity and support of the WEA. In an appeal, signed by the General Secretary of the WEA, Bp. Efraim Tendero (The Philippines), and presented by Thomas Schirrmacher, the WEA challenged Christianity from the entire world to work together to prevent the complete expulsion of Christian churches from the areas where the very first Christian churches were planted. For this united purpose there needs to be a ground swell of prayer and public solidarity, along with the mobilization of political powers.

The head of the Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholicos Aram I, proposed that the Armenian Genocide of a century ago set the stage for the situation of Christians across the Middle East today, a situation in which Christians are being “dramatically shaken.” Many believers have been able to give a clear witness to their faith “in life and in death.” He emphasized his confidence that the final authority belongs to “our common Lord, Jesus Christ,” and gave thanks for ecumenical solidarity, especially in prayer for the persecuted church.

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodoros II, used the example of an Armenian girl to demonstrate what it means to live a Christian life, shaped by forgiveness and love of neighbor, in the face of persecution and suppression. Ultimately, the response of Christians to the challenges they face in the Middle East must arise from the gospel.

The newly opened museum is located in the facilities of “The Birds Nest” orphanage. The orphanage, started in 1915 and led by American and Danish missionaries, took care of many thousands of orphans during and following the Armenian Genocide. By the choice of this location for the museum, as the Catholicos explained, the Armenian Orthodox Church wants to express its tremendous gratitude to Christians of other confessions who helped to insure the survival of the Armenian people.

A representative of the descendants of the orphans, Alecco Bezikian, paid tribute to his father, Aram Bezikian, after whom the museum has been named.