Friday, December 22, 2006
"This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:9-10)
"…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
"To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).
May Christmas and all through the year be a wonderful catalyst for enjoying the precious and simple pleasures of being, close together in the warm familiarity of friends and family, renewing relationships and sharing memories.
Wishing you all a joyful and bright Christmas. May God bless you this Christmas season and throughout the year!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Proudly Presents: Christmas Day Party
Featuring our beloved singer: Tamraz Tamraz
777 Lawrence Expressway
Santa Clara, CA 95051
December 25th, 2006
Doors will open at 7:30 P.M.
Tickets: $25 per person
Food and Drinks to be sold
For More Information Please Contact:
Admon Dawood: 408.839.6129 Sabrina David: 415.794.6903
Friday, November 17, 2006
Mar Yosip Parish of San Jose celebrated their 15th Annual "All Saints' Night" on October 31, 2006 and it was a fun and a successful event for all ages.
All Saints Night's deepest roots are decidedly pagan, and unlike Christmas and Easter, it has kept those pagan roots, despite its now Christian name. The controversy surrounding this holiday goes back well over a thousand years to when Christians confronted pagan rites of appeasing the lord of death and evil spirits. But the early Christians didn't simply speak out; they tried to institute a Christian alternative. All Saints Night was a celebration of all "the holies" - those people who had died faithful to Christ.
Light against darkness. Life against death.
Certainly of all people, we should be joyful. The challenge is to use the creativity of the Creator to celebrate both the light and life He brought into this world, and His victory over evil - and evil spirits - which extends into the next.
We were also fortunate to have His Grace Mar Odisho Orahim as our Guest of Honor. Children were all gathered around him, making it one of the most memorable times for all of us to be part of.
Our children all had an amazing time jumping, bouncing and playing games with their fellow Assyrian friends and family.
We were blessed to be part of this memorable event. God bless our nation, our Assyrian heritage and most importantly, our Assyrian Church of the East.
Monday, October 16, 2006
On Sunday, October 15th 2006, we celebrating the 30th Anniversary of our beloved Patriarch's Consecration. The successful dinner party took place at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda in Downtown San Jose.
We were fortunate to have His Grace Mar Odisho Orahim - Bishop of Europe, Sweden, and Western Diocese, along with His Grace Mar Meelis - Bishop of Bishop of Australia and New Zealand as our Special Guest of Honor, at this event. Our other Guests of Honor included, Rev. Archdeacon Nenos Michael - Mar Narsai Parish in San Francisco, Rev. Cor-Bishop David Royel - Mar Yosip Parish, San Jose, Rev. Fr. Auchana Kanoun - St. George Parish, Ceres, Rev. Fr. Jameel Wardah - Mar Addai Parish, Turlock. We also had the Mayor of San Jose Honorable Ron Gonzales, and Council Members (Dist. 1,2,9 - San Jose) Honorable Linda LeZotte, Honorable Forrest Williams, and Honorable Judy Chirco as our special Guests of Honor.
Around 500 people were present and took part in this memorable event.
We congradulate His Holiness Mar Dinkha on this blessed and memorable event. We are so grateful to have a remarkable spiritual leader and Patriarch as His Holiness Mar Dinkha. We await his safe return back to the U.S. as he completes his mission in the homeland.
More about this event will be posted, along with some photos.
Friday, September 15, 2006
To hear the speech of His Holiness Mar Dinkha, upon his arrival, click on the following link:
Photos taken from AssyrianCoaliton.com
Saturday, August 19, 2006
In attendance were representatives from the Ancient Church of the East, Light of Faith Youth Group of the Ancient Church Of The East, St. Peter and Paul Parish of the Assyrian Church of the East, Youth Association of the Assyrian Church Of The East, Assyrian Australian Association, The Assyrian Australian Academic Society, STARTTS and Mt. Druitt Ethnic Community Agency, as well as other youth leaders in our community. Although unable to attend on this occasion, representatives of the St. Toma Chaldean Church expressed their interest.
Each group had an opportunity to provide a brief presentation on the experiences and difficulties they have encountered with their connection to youth. A number of pertinent issues were also raised in regards to new arrivals and their transition into Australian society.
Major highlights of the meeting were:
- The youth vulnerability to crime,
- The need for development of various activities to engage young people,
- Supporting families and working with community organizations to assist with effective implementation of strategies.
- As a community, we have an obligation to help our youth rise above their problems, through the support of our churches and other social groups, utilizing the resources available within the community.
- The need for unity in thought and a commitment to act towards finding a resolution for the problems youth encounter.
- All groups agreed that they would commit to working on strategic planning, to be brought forward to the next Youth Leaders Meeting scheduled for 9 September 2006.
One of the main strengths of young leaders is their first-hand experience with youth issues. Their work in our churches and community organisations has provided resources and ministries that cater for the young people, which have witnessed lives changed from difficult and adverse circumstances. Mentioned in the meeting were examples of work already done by the youth groups, including street outreach to young people, educational support and mentoring, assisting young people involved in criminal proceedings and importantly, provision of spiritual guidance and social activities in safe and supervised settings. However, there was an acknowledgement that planning at a community level would be beneficial as strategies are diversified and groups draw on each other’s experience and community-wide resources.
This meeting was a positive step for our community to unite and work together for the sake of our youth.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Purpose of the Conference was to bring together the women in the Assyrian community given their roles as homemakers, career women and spiritual guides within their families.
For more information refer to the official website: http://www.assyrianchurch.com.au/
His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East met the Patriarch of the Malankara Orthodox Church, His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didimos I in the Dominican University of Chicago on July 16th 2006.
H.H. Baselios Marthoma Didimos I has recently been ordained Patriarch, and for the first time was visiting his parish in the U.S.. His Holiness is the 89th successor to the apostolic throne of St. Thomas, who founded Malankara Orthodox Church in Kerala-India around 52 AD. Being the Supreme Head of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, His Holiness will henceforth lead one million Malayalee Christians of Malankara.
Many metropolitans and bishops from different denominations attended the event. Attendees were also official members of the state and General Council of India. The event began by a praying in English. The first speech was delivered by H.H. Mar Dinkha IV in Assyrian. It was translated to English by Chorbishop David Royel afterwards.
H.H. Mar Dinkha IV was asked to light the first candle as it is a custom among the Indian churches. The event has been broadcasted on AssyriaSat, the Assyrian Global Satellite Television Network. The hospitality of the parishioners and their love and passion left good memories for the days to come.
1) From the Diocese of Eastern USA, administered by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, there were participants from Mar Gewargis Parish (Chicago), Mar Andreos Parish (Des Plaines), Mar Mari Parish (Yonkers), Mar Addai Parish (Turlock) and Mar Zaia Parish (Modesto);
2) From the Diocese of Western California, headed by His Grace Mar Odisho Oraham, the participants came from Mar Yosip Parish (San Jose), Mar Gewargis Parish (Ceres) and Mar Narsai Parish (San Francisco);
3) From the Diocese of Western USA, headed by His Grace Mar Aprim Khamis, the participants were from St. Mary’s Parish (Los Angeles), Mar Patros Parish (Phoenix), Mar Paulus Parish (Orange County) and Rabban Hurmizd Parish (San Diego).
4) Also in attendance from the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, headed by His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia, were the following representatives from the St. Peter and St. Paul English-speaking parish in Sydney: Rev. Genard Lazar (pastor of the parish), Rev. Deacon Robin Hermizd and Robert Khnanisho.
It was decided that the next Youth Conference (2007) will take place in Chicago, Illinois and will coincided with the happy occasion of the Golden Jubilee of the Priestly ordination of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch. Various spiritual and festive activities will be arranged in order to properly celebrate this joyous occasion. Furthermore, in light of the up-coming rogation of St. Mary the Blessed Virgin (August 1 to 15), it was decided that the first three days of the rogation (from August 1 to 3) the Youth will fast in order to supplicate God for unity in the Assyrian Church at large. This fast was inspired by the thoughts and prayers of many of the Youth that the Assyrian Church might unite and become one Church again as before the various schisms.
At the end of the Youth Conference, a vote of thanks was offered by all of us gathered, to the parish of St. Mary’s in Los Angeles for organizing and hosting this year’s Youth Conference. Special thanks were offered to Rev. George Bet-Rasho for his endeavors in putting the conference together.
We praise the mighty name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our hope and salvation, for this new surge of an inward stirring for holiness and the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in us as his children. The Holy Spirit is indeed working in the Assyrian Church of the East, and in her Youth—the tomorrow of the future of both our Assyrian Church and Nation.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The Assyrian Church of the East traces its origin to the Apostle Thomas along with Mar Addai and Mar Mari, who were among Christ's seventy disciples (Luke 10:1) and who preached in Mesopotamia between AD 37- AD 65. After the martyrdom of Mar Addai two of his disciples, Mar Agai and Mar Mari continued his work.Mar Mari was the disciple of Mar Addai, who was dispatched by Mar Addai from Edessa to the East. The Acts traces Mar Mari’s itinerary and preaching in Mesopotamia until his arrival in Babylonia, where he subsequently went on to find a church in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, on the Tigris River near Baghdad. By the early fifth century, the birthplace of Christianity in Babylonia became the patriarchal seat of the Church of the East (currently, Assyrian Church of the East), whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction and cultural influence extended during the early medieval period as far as China. Mar Mari's missionary activity reaches its peak in the end of the 80’s of the first Christian century. According to the Acts, Mar Mari founded over 300 churches or communities. He was later buried at Deir Qunni, which was known as one of the foremost pilgrimage sites and ‘basilicas’ of the patriarchal see.
Rev. David Royel Ordination (Syamida) - Chicago, IL. by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholic Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East
Pictures taken from AssyrianCoaliton.com
Thursday, July 06, 2006
His Holiness Mar Dinkha was invited as the Guest of Honor to attend a significant event, celebrating the 20th Ordainment Anniversary of H.B. Cardinal Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and all the East. Cardinal Sfeir is the 3rd Maronite Cardinal and the 76th Patriarch of the Maronite Church.
This event was held on July 3rd, 2006 in Chicago. Seventy two Maronite Church Metropolitans and Bishops along with the Metropolitan of Assyrian Church of the East in Iraq, His Beatitude Mar Gewargis Slewa, and Rev. Antwan Latchen of the Assyrian Church of the East in Chicago, as well as many parishioners of both churches were present.
This was a very successful event and H.H. Mar Dinkha was praised for the remarkable ACOE history and heritage and for all the obstacles that this church has had to endure. Then, the opening prayer was asked to be recited by H.H. Mar Dinkha in Assyrian language.
Many thanks and words of admiration were given to our Patriarch Mar Dinkha for leading our church despite all the hardships that we have been faced with.
This event marked a day to be remembered by all our people, including our fellow parishioners, as well as for the Maronites who are of Assyrian ethinicity, and are around 5 million in population, living in Lebanon and Latin American countries.
Taken from AssyrianCoaliton.com
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The visitors of this website http://www.assyrianchurch.com.au/ will gain spiritual, educational and social development and support.
His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia's Doctrine of Trinity is an excellent article that shows the mystery of the Trinity and its three properties, which are consubstantial. This article truly is a must read not only for those interested in Christian theology but also for all who want to learn more about Christian life and experience.
This excellent article can be read here:
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The link below will show you an excellent video, along with great pictures and music as a tribute to the Assyrian Church of the East and His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV. Let us all pray that Our Lord Jesus Christ sustain and strengthen our Holy church forever. AMEN.
Video 1: Mar Odisho's sermon on Sunday 7th of Epiphany 2006
Video 2: Mar Odisho's speech on Mar Benyamin Shimun
Videos Courtesy of
© 2006 Assyrian Enterprise — "Making History Today"
(323) 465•ATOR www.assyrianenterprise.com
Monday, June 05, 2006
The Assyrian delegation was comprised of:
1) His Grace Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of Australia & New Zealand and Secretary of the Holy Synod and the president of the Assyrian Church’s commission on dialogue;
2) His Grace Mar Odisho Oraham, Bishop of Europe and the Diocese of Western California;
3) Rev. William Toma, student at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome);
4) Rev. David Royel, Mar Yousip Parish (San Jose) priest and assistant parish-priest of St. Mary’s (Los Angeles); and
5) Rev. Polos Benjamin, student at the Pontifical Oriental Institute (Rome).
On Thursday, April 26 the Assyrian delegation headed by His Grace Mar Meelis met with His Eminence Mar Moussa I Daoud, the Cardinal-Prefect of the Oriental Congregation. This Vatican dicastery (office) is responsible for the Oriental (Eastern) Catholic Churches, that is, those in communion with the See of Rome. The Cardinal was made aware of certain improper actions on the part of some clergy of one of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the affairs of the Assyrian Church. The colloquium with the Cardinal was very congenial and he was very happy to have received the Assyrian delegation. He further extended his heartfelt greetings to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV.
On the same morning, the Assyrian delegation met with His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This Vatican office is directly responsible for dialogue with other non-Catholic Churches. The Assyrian Church has been engaged in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church through this dicastery since 1984 when His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV met with the late His Holiness Pope John Paul II and formally requested that dialogue ensue between our two Churches.
Cardinal Kasper was very happy to receive the Assyrian delegation and in turn extended his greetings to His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV and the entire Synod of the Assyrian Church. In this colloquium, the Assyrian delegation apprised the Cardinal of certain matter that directly concerned the dialogue between Rome and the Assyrian Church.
Both Churches reiterated their readiness to continue and improve the dialogue in the hope of a fruitful and satisfactory result. The Cardinal assured the Assyrian delegation of the Roman Catholic Church’s goodwill and intention of continuing the dialogue, and in improving it in many ways. The meeting ended on a very hopeful and congenial note.
His Grace Mar Meelis apprised His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV about the fruitful results of both meetings, and concerning the very lively hope of continuing the dialogue between the Assyrian Church of the East and the Roman Catholic Church.
Pictures taken from AssyrianCoaliton.com
Sunday, June 04, 2006
In manuals of church history written thus far, the Christian Church has been hitherto divided into two fundamental parts, namely, East and West – Orthodox East and Latin West, that is. However, this in fact does not do justice to the glories of the Eastern portion of the Church of Christ, which has been basically characterized as and wholly identified with the ‘Eastern Orthodox’ and has been identified with the Greek-speaking Church. The recent film which all of us, or most of us, witnessed during the Easter season was the Passion of the Christ, produced by Mel Gibson. The importance of this film, no matter what one may think of its content or script, was the fact that it made use of the original languages of that age which made the film more unique, and it brought forth a rejuvenated interest in the language of our Lord – which is still used to this very day in the form of its daughter-language known as Syriac – a language utilized to this very day by one of the more glorious of the ancient eastern Churches of yester-year – the Assyrian Church of the East.The origins of the Church of the East, variously known as the ‘Assyrian Church,’ ‘Church of Persia,’ ‘Nestorian Church’ etc. may be news to other Christians at large. The history of the expansion of Christianity from the Holy City (Jerusalem) westward is commonly known and well-chronicled. However, it is the spread of the Gospel eastward and particularly to the other parts of the Near East that is not so well-acquainted with. It is the humble aim of this brief outline to expose the history of the apostolic foundation of this once-glorious Church, and to whet the appetite of church historians, and especially that of the children of this once-glorious and most missionary-minded of all the Churches of Asia.
Apostolic Origins in Light of the New Testament
The evangelist Matthew mentions at the very beginning of his Gospel an event which marked the marvelous event of the birth of Christ, namely the coming of the Magi – the Wise Men of the East. The Gospel-writer narrates: “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying: ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him’” (Mt 2:1-2). The evangelist continues that once having reached Judea, and having encountered Herod the tetrarch, these wise men had finally reached the Christ-child: “When they had heard the king, they departed; and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Mt 2:9). According to St. John Chrysostom (d. 407): “The Incarnate Word on coming to the world gave to Persia, in the persons of the Magi, the first manifestations of His mercy and light... so that the Jews themselves might learn from the mouths of Persians of the birth of their Messiah.” According to tradition, the Persians had learned of the coming of the Messiah from the prophecies of Zoroaster, who was said to have been a disciple of the prophet Jeremiah during the captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. Thus, we see that the prophecy concerning the coming of the promised Messiah was known in the land of the Persians as well. In fact, the great patriarch of the Church of the East, Timothy I (780-823) asserted that it was exactly these magi who preached the coming of the Messiah in the land of the Persians.The second major New Testament event which we cite with regard to the apostolic origins of the Church of the East is the fulfillment of the prophetic event of the Pentecost which took place in the Upper Room 50 days after the Resurrection. Being one of the three ‘pilgrim feasts,’ many Jews were to be found in Jerusalem coming from different parts of the Roman Empire, and also from beyond the limes of the Roman Empire. St. Luke, the evangelist and historian of the Primitive Church, narrates in the Acts of the Apostles: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another. Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappodocia, in Pontus, and Asia…(Acts 2:5-9).
Thus, we see that there were Jews present in the Holy City for the feast of the Pentecost (Feast of Weeks) who heard the preaching of the apostles, and especially the discourse by Peter, and received the Gospel of Jesus Christ “…then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). It is highly likely that these Persian Jews took back with them to their homeland the Gospel of Jesus Christ, thus sowing the seeds of the Gospel among their fellow Jews in the Diaspora as well as among the non-Jewish inhabitants within the Persian Empire, which was at that time the second superpower after the Romans.Although the Book of Acts follows the journey of St. Paul westward to Antioch and beyond, where the believers were first called ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26), the expansion of the faith beyond the limits of the Roman Empire is not chronicled in Luke’s chronology. There are, however, a number of secondary sources that chronicle the spread of the Gospel to the Aramaic-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia who identify themselves as being the descendents of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians who later adopted the language of the Aramean nomads, i.e. Aramaic, that settled in their lands sometime in the ninth century B.C.
The Early Christian History of Edessa
The stage for the setting of Christianity in the Syriac-speaking East is the city of Edessa (modern-day ‘Urfa’ in southeastern Turkey), the capital of the small kingdom of Osrhoene. Located on a tributary of the mighty Euphrates, it laid on one of the greatest trade routes to the East that went through the ‘Great Syrian’ desert to the south and the mountains of Armenia to the north.The city already existed before the Seleucid period (336-323 B.C.) and was re-founded by the Greeks who gave it the name of ‘Edessa,’ or ‘Urhai’ in Syriac (the root of the Greek ‘Osrhoene’ and the Turkish ‘Urfa’). It was ruled by a series of monarchs of Arab origin and became the capital of an independent city-state sometime in 130 B.C. with the defeat of the Seleucids by the Parthians who pushed the Greeks back into Asia Minor, and later became a Roman colony in 214 A.D. By 258 or 259, it was already a part of the Persian Empire under the Sassanids.King Abgar Ukkama (‘The Black’) reigned over the kingdom of Edessa from 4 B.C. to 50 A.D., however it is only with Abgar IX (179-214 A.D.) that there is any certainty concerning the reception of Christianity by the monarch. According to others, it is Abgar ‘VIII,’ since a coin of this monarch issued between 180 and 192 depicting his head shows a cross on his headdress.The so-called Chronicle of Edessa, a sixth-century Syriac document originally penned in Estrangelo, narrates that in a flood which damaged the city of Edessa in 201 the Christian temple was destroyed.
The Doctrine of Addai
An important document narrating the establishment of Christianity in the Syriac-speaking East is the so-called Doctrine of Addai the Apostle, written in Syriac and come down to us in its final form sometime between 390 and 400, and which contents are certainly earlier than the date of its writing. This document chronicles the coming of Addai (Thaddaeus) believed to have been one of the Seventy-Two disciples (cf. Lk 10:1) sent by Thomas, one of the Twelve, to the small kingdom of Osrhoene or Edessa (in Syriac Urhai), some 160 miles east of Antioch. The Doctrine of Addai recovers the letter of Abgar to Jesus and the Lord’s response, promising eternal life to the king and the inhabitants of his suzerain kingdom for believing in Christ’s name, and also that the enemies of the realm should not prevail over it. According to the tradition, the apostle Addai came to Edessa in the year 343 of the Greeks (32 A.D.),…in the reign of our master Tiberius, the Roman Emperor, in the reign of king Abgar, the son of king Ma’nu in the month of October, and early on the twelfth day, Abgar Ukkama sent Marihad and Shamshagram, chieftains and honored men of the kingdom, and with them Hannan, the faithful archivist, down to the city called Elev-theropolis but in Aramaic Beth Gubrin, to the Venerable Sabinus, son of Eustorgius, a representative of our master, the emperor, he who ruled over Syria and over Phoenicia and over the whole country of Mesopotamia.
The emissaries are sent to the Holy City to see Christ and record his deeds to Abgar, and …when Marihab, Shamshagram and Hannan, the archivist, saw these men, they too, went with them to Jerusalem, they saw many men coming from far away to see Christ, because his wonders had been rumored to distant countries. And when Marihab, Shamshagram and Hannan, the archivist, saw these men, they too, went with them to Jerusalem. And when they came to Jerusalem they saw Christ and they rejoiced together with the crowd that was attached to him, and they saw the Jews, too, standing in groups, and meditating on what they out to do with him, because they were puzzled, seeing numbers of their own people ready to profess him, and they stayed in Jerusalem ten days. And Hannan, the archivist, wrote down what he, himself, saw of the doing of Christ, besides all the rest that he had done, before their coming to Jerusalem. And they set out and came to Edessa.
The emissaries of the Edessene king continue to recount all that they saw Christ do and say in the Holy City. When the king had heard about all of the marvelous deeds of Christ he sent them on another journey to Jerusalem:And when king Abgar heard this, he was much surprised and astonished, he and his great men who stood before him. And Abgar said to them: ‘These mighty acts are not of man, but of God because nobody but God only can call the dead to life again.’ And Abgar desired to set out to Palestine in order to see with his own eyes all the doing of Christ. But as he could not go over the land of the Romans, not being his possession, and as he did not want to be the cause of bitter enmity, he wrote a letter and sent it to Christ by means of the hand of Hannan, the archivist, and he set out from Edessa on the 14th day of Adar (March) and he entered into Jerusalem on the 12th day of Nisan (April) on the fourth day of the week. And he found Christ in the house of Gemaliel, the high priest of the Jews…
The primitive church historian Eusebius bishop of Caesarea (ca. 264-340) narrates what many scholars have called the ‘legendary’ letter of Abgar V, king of Edessa, to Christ seeking healing from his illness. The letter is quoted in Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica (I, 13:5-10) and preserves the Greek recension of the letters. Thus, Eusebius’ Greek source and the Syriac Doctrine of Addai, constitute the twofold source of the letters of Abgar and Christ. The first of the letters is that of Abgar to Jesus:Abgar Ukkama, the Toparch, to Jesus the good Savior who has appeared in the district of Jerusalem, greeting. I have heard concerning you and your cures, how they are accomplished by you without drugs and herbs. For, as the story goes, you make the blind recover their sight, the lame walk, and you cleanse lepers, and cast out unclean spirits and demons, and you cure those who are tortured by long disease and you raise dead men. And when I heard all these things concerning you I decided that it is one of the two, either that you are God, and came down from heaven to do these things, or are a Son of God for doing these things. For this reason I write to beg you to hasten to me and to heal the suffering which I have. Moreover, I heard that the Jews are mocking you, and wish to ill-treat you. Now I have a city very small and venerable which is enough for both.
Jesus then replies to Abgar by way of the king’s emissary and scribe Hannan (‘Ananias’ in the Greek form):Blessed are you who did believe in me not having seen me, for it is written concerning me that those who have seen me will not believe in me, and that those have not seen me will believe and live. Now concerning what you wrote to me, to come to you, I must first complete here all which I was sent, and after thus completing it be taken up to him who sent me, and when I have been taken up, I will send to you one of my disciples to heal your suffering and give life to you and those with you.
Eusebius of Caesarea is said to have visited Edessa sometime in 323, where he is alleged to have found the records of the letters in Syriac and which he most probably made use of as sources for his history of the events. He states with regard to the Abgar who heard of the preaching and divine healings wrought through Christ, “In this way King Abgar, the celebrated monarch of the nations beyond the Euphrates, perishing from terrible suffering in his body, beyond human power to heal, when he heard much of the name of Jesus and of the miracles attested unanimously by all men, became his suppliant and sent to him by the bearer of a letter, asking to find relief from his disease.”The Historia Ecclesiastica of Eusebius then continues to narrate the outcome of the letters and the mission of Addai, who is identified with Thaddeus one of the Twelve in the Syriac version (cf. Mt 10:3) and one of the Seventy-Two in the Eusebian tradition,making use of a Syriac source:Now after the ascension of Jesus, Judas who was also Thomas, sent Thaddaeus to him as an Apostle, being one of the Seventy, and he came and stayed with Tobias the son of Tobias. Now when news of him was heard, it was reported to Abgar, ‘An Apostle of Jesus has come here, as he wrote to you.’ So Thaddaeus began in the power of God to heal every disease and weakness so that all marveled.
And when Abgar heard the great and wonderful deeds that he was doing, and how he was working cures, he began to suspect that this was he of whom Jesus had written saying, ‘When I have been taken up, I will send to you one of my disciples who will heal your suffering.’ So he summoned Tobias, with whom Thaddaeus was staying, and said, ‘I hear that certain man of power has come and is staying at your house. Bring him to me.’ Tobias came to Thaddaues and said to him, ‘The toparch Abgar summed me and bade me bring you to him in order to heal him.’ And Thaddaeus said, ‘I will go up since I have been miraculously sent to him.’ These things were done in the 340th year [29 A.D.]
It is clear from the tradition that Addai was a Jew and that he had close ties with other Jews residing at Edessa. The fact also remains that there existed other nations (‘Gentiles’) in the small kingdom, and the vast majority held on to the old Assyro-Babylonian religion of their forefathers, with minimal influences from the Hellenic culture. The same is true of the city of Harran near Edessa, which enjoys close ties to the Abrahamic tradition; it too enjoyed pagan religion and cult. Syriac was the spoken and written language of the kingdom, as the many tombstone and monumental inscriptions (some of which pre-date the Christian era) indicate.
The multi-cultural city of Edessa was thus early-on evangelized by apostles from Jerusalem, and the existence of Jews in the city provided the crucible for the growth of the faith of Christ, and the existence of merchants and silk-traders provided the personnel for the apostolic work and the spreading of the faith. According to L. Tang: “Even in the country of Assyrians, new converts taught their sons and daughters of their own people and built houses of prayers there secretly, through the danger of fire-worshippers and the adorers of water.”Even though the letters were condemned as ‘apocryphal’ in the West by Pope Gelasius in 494, the Syriac-speaking churches of the East certainly considered them to be founded upon historical truth.
The famed theologian St. Ephrem the Syrian (ca. 306-373) refers to the Abgar tradition, though not necessarily to the letters themselves, in his Testament: “Blessed is the town in which you dwell, Edessa, mother of the wise; by the living mouth of the Son has it been blessed by the hand of his disciple. That blessing will dwell in it until the holy one reveals himself.”The portrait of Christ which Ananias is reported as having brought back with him to Edessa was known to have been brought to Constantinople from Edessa in 944 A.D. However, the letters are referred to in a letter addressed to Augustine of Hippo in 429, and are also known to Jacob of Serug (451-521) and in the chronicle of Joshua the Stylite – which refers to the event of warding off the Persian king Kawad from besieging Edessa in 503 A.D.
The Testimony of Bardaisan
Another early witness to the Abgar tradition is the Book of the Laws of Countries written by the Gnostic Bardaisan (154-222)in Syriac sometime at the beginning of the third century. Bardaisan was born in 154 at Edessa from supposedly pagan parents, and was brought up by a pagan priest. Sometime in 179 A.D., at the age of 25, he became a Christian while one day passing by the church founded by Addai, where he heard the Scriptures read and interpreted; he was soon baptized by the bishop of Edessa Hystasp, and ordained deacon by him.Bardaisan refers to the Abgar tradition which would certainly have been common knowledge at Edessa. With reference to the abandonment of the rite of castration in the worship of the Mother Goddess cult at Hierapolis (Mabbug), Bardaisan states: “…when Abgar the king believed [in Christ] he decreed that anyone who castrated himself should have his hand cut off. And from that day on to this time, no man castrates himself in the country of Edessa.” This is certainly the same Abgar who is credited with being involved in the evangelization of Edessa. It seems that Bardaisan was educated with the monarch Abgar VIII (176-213), and was favored at the royal court; it is from his acquaintance with Abgar that Bardaisan makes the assertion concerning the evangelization of Edessa. Bardaisan also mentions the presence of Christians in Parthia, Gilan (southwest of the Caspian Sea), Bactria (between the ranges of Hindu Kush and the Oxus), Persia, Edessa and Media, and by the year 200 A.D. knew of the presence of Christians over the known parts of Asia.
The Evangelization of Adiabene
The other major territory of missionary activity which directly concerns the history of the Church of the East is the evangelization of Adiabene in northeastern Mesopotamia, some four hundred miles east of Edessa. In the ancient world, Adiabene was historically known as ‘Assyria.’ The well-known Roman topographer Strabo, writing his famous Geographica in 20 A.D., mentions Assyria and Parthian Persia east of Asia “whose eastern provinces touched the borders of India.”He refers to the strip of land exactly between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates as ‘Assyria,’ and all that is west of that he terms ‘Syria.’In 247 B.C. the third Persian dynasty known as the ‘Parthians’ came onto the scene by re-conquering Persia from the Greeks and made Persia Asian again by capturing the Seleucid emperor at Babylon in 140 B.C. The Parthians had captured Edessa from the Romans, and later made Seleucia-Ctesiphon (on the Tigris, north of old Babylon) their capital. They also had the policy of making petty ‘client-kingdoms,’ among them being Edessa, Adiabene and Armenia. Adiabene was farther east of Edessa (on the upper waters of the Tigris near the old capital of Nineveh) and “its capital, Arbela (modern-day Erbil), was to become the center for Christian missionary advance into central Asia.”There was a Jewish community at Adiabene, considered stronger than that of Edessa, which saw in the first century A.D. the conversion to Judaism of Helena, the queen of Adiabene, along with her two sons. There also existed a strong Jewish community in Nisibis as well, probably the strongest in the region. Furthermore, the cities of Edessa, Nisibis and Adiabene were connected by the silk-road, and the Jewish, Christian and pagan constituencies of these cities lived side-by-side, and the strong Jewish presence allowed for the swift progress of Christianity in these merchant centers.According to S.H. Moffett, “…like Edessa, Arbela was one of the earliest Christian centers in oriental Asia. One theory…holds that the faith came first to Adiabene and from there was carried back west to Edessa,”rather invalidating the generally-held theory that the first Christian missionaries came to Edessa from Jerusalem itself.
Scholars, however, generally agree that the new Christian faith was preached and gained more followers in the villages of the Adiabene region rather than in the metropolis itself.The famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities (XX, 20) relates the story of the conversion of the royal family of Adiabene to Judaism. Josephus narrates that the king of Adiabene married his sister Helena, and sent his son Ezad to remain with Abednergal the king of Karkha d’Meshan near the Persian Gulf.Ezad later succeeded his father to the throne of Adiabene in 36 A.D., thus becoming a contemporary of Abgar Ukkama, in the meantime having married the daughter of his host. The interesting part of the story, however, is that while Ezad was still at Meshan, a certain Jewish merchant named Ananias had converted some women in the royal court to Judaism. Later, Helena the queen mother had already converted to Judaism independently from the influence of her son and Ananias. Ezad later was granted the governance of Nisibis by the Parthian emperor Walagash I, who later opposed him. Both Ezad and his mother Helena were buried at Jerusalem, where their tombs are to be found to this very day. This story later gets interwoven with the Abgar tradition of Edessa, and the conversion of Helena of Adiabene is later confused with the much later story of the finding of the Cross by Helena the mother of Constantine.In the Arabic legend about Jesus (Rosat al-Safa), the Abgar story is retold with different characters. The King of Nisibis Nersai (rather than the ‘Ezad’ of Josephus) invites Jesus to visit him, who is in then accompanied by Thomas, Simon and James. In fact, the name of the king of Adiabene at the time of Abgar Ukkama was in fact one Narseh who is known as the king of the ‘Assyrians’ (Adiabene). According to the legend, Thomas was followed at Edessa by Addai, accompanied by his disciples Aggai and Mari, who arrived three years after the Ascension of Christ and who are said to have gone as far as the ‘great lakes of the east’ converting the nations to Christianity. Once returned to Edessa, they found the Christian king Abgar dead and succeeded by his son Ma‘nu, who seems to have been a heathen. He is supposed to have killed Addai on July 3 (ironically the feast of St. Thomas), and was buried in the church which Addai himself had built. Addai is also believed to have been the apostle of the region of Adiabene, modern-day Arbel. With the presence of a great Jewish diaspora, and the fact that Syriac was also the tongue of Adiabene, the connection with missionaries from Edessa is almost indubitable. Whether by Addai himself or a disciple, the tradition points to Edessa as its source of evangelization. The infamous document known as the Chronicle of Adiabene, attributed to Mshikha-zkha and perhaps written sometime between 550-569, traces the line of apostolic succession of the first 20 bishops of Adiabene from 104 to 511 A.D.The first bishop was Pqida, who in turn is connected to the earlier evangelistic efforts of Addai at Edessa, and according to the Chronicle it was Addai himself who ordained Pqida as bishop.Pqida is reported as having been converted to Christianity from Zoroastrianism by witnessing a miracle brought about by the apostle Addai from Edessa having raised a dead girl to life. Thus, the Chronicle makes no mention of the other disciple of Addai – namely Aggai and Mari – and directly links Pqida to Addai the apostle of Edessa.Though the existence of an episcopacy in Adiabene in the first Christian century may be debatable, we may conclude that there is no reason to seriously doubt the conversion of Adiabene – already a commercial center enjoying a strong Jewish and pagan presence – or that one of its earliest converts to Christianity was a certain ‘Pqida.’ Among the other bishops mentioned in the Chronicle is a certain Semsoun who is supposed to have been martyred in 117 or 123, after Trajan had defeated the Persian monarch Khosraw sometime in 116. However, the Parthians were generally tolerant of the other religious constituencies in the realm, and it is only later under the Sassanids that persecution of the Christians is well documented. However, other Syriac documents seem to differ on who the apostle of Adiabene was. The Syriac Doctrina Apostolorum (‘Doctrine of the Apostles’) gives the credit to Aggai, the disciple and successor of Addai, as being the one who brought the Gospel to Adiabene.The much later history of St. Mari one of the disciples of Addai, also known as the Acts of Mari, records him as the missionary of Adiabene, as well as that of the twin royal city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon in the late first Christian century.Aggai succeeded his master Addai, and is said to have preached “over the entire country of Persia, also in Assyria, Media, Babylonia and many other places, and he traveled to the boundaries of India.”He too was martyred under Ma‘nu after refusing to weave royal garments for the pagan monarch. The Doctrine of Addai states that “Aggai died in consequence of the misdeed of the prince, and too sudden to ordain Palut by imposition of hands.” The tradition then goes on to state that Palut fled to nearby Antioch where he was ordained by Serapion, the bishop of the city, and the acts of the martyrdom of Sharbil and Barsamya attest to the episcopal career of Palut. Although the accounts of these Edessene martyrs are spurious, it is known that the great persecution ordered by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303 took its toll in the ‘blessed city’ of Edessa. However, it was the villagers rather than the city dwellers that felt the sharpest sting of the persecution. The Doctrine states that Aggai, Palut, Barshlama and Barsamya:ministered with [Addai] in the church which he had built…A large multitude of people assembled day by day and came to the prayers of the service and to [the reading of] the Old Testament and the New [Testament] of the Diatessaron. They also believed in the resurrection of the dead…They kept also the festivals of the Church at their proper season…Moreover, in the places round about the city, churches were built and many received from [Addai] the hand of priesthood. So the people of the East also, in the guise of merchants, passed over into the territory of the Romans in order to see the signs which Addai did. And those who became disciples received from him the hand of priesthood, and in their own country of the Assyrians they found disciples, and made houses of prayer there in secret from fear of those who worshipped fire and adored water.
The mention of the Christians of ‘the country of the Assyrian,’ which certainly refers to Adiabene, having to practice their religion in secret seems to indicate a date after 226 A.D. when the Parthian dynasty fell to the intolerant Sassanids.The Doctrine also heavily supports the theory that Edessa – and consequently its dependents in nearby Adiabene and Nisibis – was ecclesiastically dependent on the primatial see of Antioch. According to the Doctrine:…because he [Aggai] died suddenly and quickly at the breaking of his legs, he was not able to lay his hands upon Palut. And Palut himself went to Antioch, and received the hand of priesthood from Serapion, bishop of Antioch, the same Serapion who also received the hand from Zephyrinus, bishop of the city of Rome, [who was himself] of the succession of [those who had received] the hand of priesthood of Simon Peter, who had received it from our Lord…
One of the more famous Christians of Adiabene and “…first verifiable historical evidence of Christianity as far east in Persia as Adiabene” was the philosopher and Biblicist Tatian (120-175)who refers to himself as being from ‘Assyria,’ hence the Latinized form of his name Tatian Assyrus. According to S.H. Moffett, “This remarkable biblical scholar, linguist and ascetic was born of pagan parents in the ancient Assyrian territory of northern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq),” that is in Adiabene, and was a convert to Christianity, later becoming a disciple of Justin Martyr.Early on he learned Greek, wrote his apology Against the Greeks sometime in 172 before settling in Edessa, or according to others he went back to his native Adiabene, “or somewhere near it east of the Tigris ‘in the midst of the Rivers.’”He is the famous compiler of the Diatessaron, or ‘harmonized’ Gospel – which he probably composed in Syriac and was used by all of the Syriac-speaking Churches in the East up to the time of its suppression by Rabbula the West Syrian bishop of Edessa sometime after 411 A.D.
The St. Thomas TraditionIntimately bound up with the Addai tradition of the evangelization of Edessa is the preaching of St. Thomas. Early on, Thomas – one of the Twelve – was considered to be the one who sent Addai to Edessa from the Holy City. A Syriac document probably written at Edessa itself at the beginning of the third century (ca. 200 A.D.) is the Acts of Judas Thomas. The Acts, which are the “oldest narrative account of a Church in Asia beyond the border of the Roman Empire,”narrate the missionary career of Thomas, who was certainly the apostle of the Parthians, Medes and other peoples east of Parthia. According to the Syriac tradition of the Acts, it is Judas Thomas (which may be the source of the identification of the Edessene Addai with the apostle ‘Judas Thaddaeus’ of the Twelve) who was the apostle of Edessa, and is sometimes referred to as ‘Thaddaeus who is Thomas’ or simple ‘Judas who was also called Thomas.’Thomas was later introduced into the story of Abgar, although “nowhere in the earlier versions of the proselytization of Edessa is it claimed that St. Thomas himself came to the city.”The association of the two traditions concerned with Thomas from the Twelve and Thaddaeus-Addai “integrated the evangelization of Edessa within the direct apostolic tradition.”The very early Hymn of the Soul contained in the Acts, states that the prince of Maishan, on following the trade route that connected Adiabene in the east to Edessa and Nisibis in the West to India and Fars had “…quitted the East and went down…I passed through the borders of Maishan, the meeting place of the merchants of the East, and I reached the land of Babylonia.”Another tradition originating in Alexandria around the middle of the third century actually has Thomas going into the Parthian Empire rather than to Edessa. This tradition is backed by Origen (d. 251) in his Commentary on Genesis (Chapter 3), who is in fact the first to mention it, and is also found in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (3:1) and in the Syriac Clementine Recognitions.Thomas is also considered the apostle of India by many of the earliest ecclesiastical sources. However, the Alexandrine tradition initiated by the missionary Pontaeunus (180/190 A.D.) – who was sent by Demetrius the bishop of Alexandria on a mission to India – it was Bartholomew (the ‘Nathaniel’ of the New Testament) who was the apostle to India, and who also brought with him a Hebrew (Aramaic?) copy of the Gospel of Matthew; this information is witnessed to by both Eusebius and Jerome.Since Bartholomew is usually considered the apostle to Armenia, Arabia and Persia, it is extremely out of the ordinary. In any case, it is certain that before the end of the second Christian century a living community of faithful was to be found in the south of the Indian sub-continent which traced their apostleship – according to the vast testimonies of the tradition – to Thomas.
The Witness of Egeria the Iberian (ca. 384 A.D.)
A very important witness to the tradition of the apostolic activity and missionary work of Thomas one of the Twelve is the so-called Journal of the late fourth century Iberian nun Egeria. Egeria’s famous Journal records her pilgrimage to the Holy City and the various other pilgrimage-sites visited by the Spanish nun on her journey. She recalls that …no Christian who has achieved the journey to the holy places and Jerusalem misses going also on the pilgrimage to Edessa. It is twenty-five staging posts away from Jerusalem. But Mesopotamia is not so far from Antioch. So, since my route back to Constantinople took me back that way, it was very convenient for me at God’s bidding to go from Antioch to Mesopotamia…(17:1)
Three years after her arrival in Jerusalem she goes to Mesopotamia, to Harran the land of Abraham and to Edessa the ‘blessed city:’
But God also moved me with a desire to go to Syrian Mesopotamia [the Greek translation of the Padan Aram of Gen 28:1 which Egeria uses in reference to Edessa]. The holy monks there are said to be numerous and of so indescribably excellent a life that I wanted to pay them a visit; I also wanted to make a pilgrimage to the martyrium of the holy apostle Thomas, where his entire body is buried (17:1)
The Edessene connection with Thomas the apostle goes back to the Acts of Judas Thomas. Since the time of the writing of the Acts around 200 A.D., it was believed that notwithstanding the widely-accepted tradition that he died in India, his body was removed to Edessa, certainly before the middle of the fourth century when Ephrem penned his Nisibene Hymns (42), who mentions the presence of the apostle’s bones in Edessa. The other component of the Edessene connection, around the time of Egeria’s Journal ca. 384 A.D., was that Thomas – rather than Addai – was believed to have been sent by Christ to Edessa.Recalling the existence of the Abgar tradition, Egeria states: “It is at Edessa, to which Jesus, our God, was sending Thomas after his ascension into heaven, as he tells us in the letter he sent to King Abgar by the messenger Ananias. This letter has been most reverently preserved at Edessa where they have this martyrium” (17:1). Egeria recounts the story of her arrival in Edessa and her meeting the bishop of the city. She also recalls the many martyria or shrines built over the martyrs’ tombs and the consecrated monks who took care of these shrines, which by the year 449 A.D. numbered some 90,000 in the hills of Edessa.The church of St. Thomas was built sometime between 373 and August of 394 when the coffin of the apostle was moved to his own church:As soon as we arrived, we went straight to the church and martyrium of holy Thomas; there we had our usual prayers and everything which was our custom in holy places. And we read also from the writings of holy Thomas himself [certainly the Syriac Acts of Judas Thomas]. The church there is large and beautiful, and built in the new way – just right, in fact, to be a house of God…I saw a great many martyria [martyrs’ shrines] and visited the holy monks, some of whom lived among the martyria, whilst others had their cells further away from the city where it was more private. (19:2-4)
The bishop of Edessa takes Egeria to visit the pilgrim sites present in the city. The foremost among them being the palace of Abgar, built in 205-206 A.D., and a huge marble likeness of the famed monarch:So first of all he took me to the palace of King Abgar, and showed me a huge marble portrait of him. People said it was an excellent likeness, and it shone as if it was made of pearl. The look on Abgar’s face showed me, as I looked straight at it, what a wise and noble man he had been, and the holy bishop told me, ‘That is King Abgar. Before he saw the Lord he believed in him as the true Son of God.’ Next to this portrait was another of the same marble; he told me it was the king’s son Magnus, and he too had a wonder face (19:6).
The ‘holy bishop’ of Edessa recounts the whole story of letter of Abgar to Christ and reference is also made to the attack of Edessa by the Persians in 259 A.D., which seemed to contradict the promise of Christ that the city would never succumb to its enemies, as contained in the Greek recension of the letter of Christ to Abgar.
The holy bishop told me this about it: ‘King Abgar wrote a letter to the Lord, and the Lord sent his answer by the messenger Ananias; then, quite a time after, the Persians descended on this city and encircled it. So at once Abgar, with his whole army, took the Lord’s letter to the gate, and prayed aloud: ‘Lord Jesus,’ he said, ‘You promised us that no enemy would enter this city. Look now how the Persians are attacking us!’ With that the king held up the letter, open in his hands, and immediately a darkness fell over the Persians who were by then close outside the city walls. It made them retire three miles away, and the darkness was so confusing to the Persians that they found it difficult to pitch camp and carry out patrols even at three miles’ distance from the city (19:8-9).
The bishop is narrating the story of the attack of Edessa by the Persians under Shapor I in 259 A.D., and this late-fourth century witness most probably exhibits an earlier tradition held in the city, or one approved by the bishop himself. The pilgrim Egeria was also shown the gate of the city through which the messenger Ananias entered bringing in the letter of Christ to Abgar, as well as the tomb of Abgar’s family. The bishop also gave Egeria a copy of the Lord’s letter, which seems to have been a popular souvenir for the pilgrims to the city, containing the promise of Christ for the city which was not to be found in the Eusebian version. The Iberian nun spent three day in Edessa and then headed for the near-by city of Harran, the city of Abraham, which was also a pilgrimage site for the numerous monks of Mesopotamia which Egeria notices with interest.Further minor documents, such as the Acta Maris, or the Acts of Mar Mari are of a much later period and describe the missionary activity of Mari, the disciple of Addai, into Seleucia-Ctesiphon which became the primatial see of the Church of the East in 280 A.D., under its first documented archbishop Mar Papa who is well-known for his work of effecting the centralization of authority of the Persian episcopate in the person of the bishop – now archbishop (and later ‘catholicos’) – of the Persian royal twin-cities. The missionary activity of Mari reaches its peak in the end of the 80’s of the first Christian century, and the evangelization of the royal-cities is also linked to the mother Church at Edessa by the mere fact that it was Addai who sent his disciple Mari deep into Persian territory. According to the Acts, Mari is supposed to have founded over 300 churches or communities, and is said to have been buried at Deir Qunni, which was known as one of the foremost pilgrimage sites and ‘basilicas’ of the patriarchal see. However, even though this tradition cannot be corroborated by any documentary evidence outside of the Church’s tradition and later documents, it nonetheless demonstrates the importance of the oral tradition in order to attempt to explain the origins of what has been called the once most missionary-minded Church of all Asia.It has been the humble aim of this presentation to look at the apostolic origins of this Church which has given countless martyrs for Christ, and which was once an important – albeit isolated – component of the Church of the Church of Christ, the Church of the apostles and martyrs.
© Assyrian Church Of The East. All Rights Reserved.
Designed & Powered by Assyrian Enterprise
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
His Holiness Mar Dinkha's Speech, click below:
Full commemoration dinner party in honor of the Assyrian Church of The East's leaders in Chicago, click below:
Our beloved and Holy Father Mar Dinkha,
Thank you for your speech. You have spent all your life working so hard for our church. May you always be by our side, bringing us closer to the Holy Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you. AMEN.
HOLY APOSTOLIC CATHOLIC ASSYRIAN CHURCH OF THE EAST
Joint Diocese of Noth America
(Eastern U.S.A. Western USA, Wester California and Canada)
660 Larson Lane, Roselle, IL. 60712
CLERGY CONFERENCE DECLARATION
We the priests of the HOLY APOSTOLIC CATHOLIC ASSYRIAN CHURCH
OF THE EAST, from above dioceses, who have gathered in the Church of St. Mary, in the city of Roselle, in the State of Illinois, from 8th through May 11th, 2006, by God’s grace, do affirm our support for our Church leadership. In the spirit of servant hood toward our Lord Jesus Christ, we once again submit ourselves to the Patriarch, His Holiness, Mar Dinkha IV, and the Holy Synod, as the Blessed Apostle, St. Paul, has instructed, “ Listen to your spiritual leaders and obey them; for they are watchful guardians of your souls, as one who must give account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrew 13:17)
We are so disheartened to have to deal with a man who is contrary to the Word of God. However, in line with the dictates of Holy Scripture, such is the case of the former bishop, Ashur Soro. His illegal actions and refusals to abide by the decisions of the Holy Synod, have brought great harm and heartache to so many and continue to do so, by not returning the properties and holdings of the Church to the hierarchy with whom he had served with for many years previously. Our Lord Jesus Christ said in the Gospel of John, “ If you love me, keep my commandments.” (St. John 14:15) and further He states,” You will know them by their fruits.”(St. Matthew 7:16).
We reaffirm our obedience to His Holiness and the Holy Synod and our common declaration in the use of the Diocesan Constitution and By-Laws that were approved and signed into existence and promulgated for use in our churches of the Western world in the Winter of 1986.
In brotherly love and faithful witness unto Christ, we affix our signatures on this the 11th day of May 2006.
1. V. Rev. Nenos Michael, Archdeacon
2. V. Rev. Yonan Y. Yonan, Archdeacon
San Francisco, California London, England
3. V. Rev. Aprim DeBaz, Archdeacon
4. V.Rev. Chorbishop Gewargis Haroon
5. V. Rev. Athanasis Joseph, Chorbishop
6. Rev. David Royel
Chicago, IL. San Jose, California
7. Rev.Charles Klutz
8. Rev. Dr. Mark Brown
Chicago, IL. Avenal, California
9. Rev Dr. George K.Toma
10. Rev. Khoushaba Bouza
Prospect Heights, IL. Roselle, IL.
North America Clergy Declaration:
11. Rev. Benjamin Benjamin
12. Rev. Auchana Kanoun
Sterling Heights, MI Ceres, California
13. Rev. Hermis M. Ismail
14. Rev. Joseph B. Peera
London, ONT, Canada Flint, MI
15. Rev. Shlemon Heseqial
16. Rev. Younan Marwan
Chicago, IL. Hamilton, ONT, Canada
17. Rev. Kando D. kando
18. Rev. Jameel Warda
Modesto, CA Turlock, CA
19. Rev. Antwan Latchen
20. Rev. Kifrkis Talo, London,ONT,
Chicago, IL. London, ONT.,Canada
21. Rev. George Bet Rasho
22. Rev. Gabriel Brakhia
Tarzana, CA. Fullerton, CA.
23. Rev. Gewargis Shlaimon
24. Rev. Frederick Hermiz
Yonkers, N.Y Phoenix, AZ
25. Rev. Aprim Younadam
26. Rev. Gaba Sholimun
Las Vegas, NV San Diego, CA
27. Rev. Emmanuel Youkhana
Weisbaden, Germany (visiting clergy)
Monday, May 15, 2006
The great joy and spirit of motherhood was celebrated at Mar Narsai Parish in San Francisco on May 14th, 2006. Following lunch, Mar Odisho who was the guest of Honor receieved a warm welcome from a large crowd of people, who were all gathered at Mar Narsai Parish Hall. Beautiful poems, songs, and speeches were performed.
His Grace, Mar Odisho discussed the following in his speech:
1) He briefly mentioned the very successful meeting that took place in Chicago, with all the bishops and about 30 priests present. The main agenda of discussion was "How the Assyrian Church of the East can maintain its leadership in the light of varied geographic distances and diverse jurisdictions of law".
2) He also discussed that he would officially assign Qasha David as the parish priest of the Mar Yousip Parish later that afternoon in San Jose. His Grace said that he will also speak of the current affairs of the Church and the last Patriarchal Synod which took place in Chicago from May 9th to May 10th of 2006.
3) He then mentioned that a new land has been purchased in Sweden for our beloved Assyrian community there. Mar Odisho went further to mention that around 4000 people turned up to the Christmas mass in Sweden, which was an amazing turnout.
4) He also stated that it is unfortunate that our church had to endure these tough times that it is facing at the moment. Although, he said, at the hand of three individuals: two ex-priests and one ex-bishop, the flip side is that 500,000 of the beloved ACOE members all of the sudden were awaken and their love for ACOE has substantially grown. We see this at the large turn-outs for our church masses everywhere. Hence, we should look on the positive side and continue to thank Lord for blessing our ACOE for the last 2000 years.
5) Last, but not least, Mar Odisho commented on the importance of mother and how she is a special person in our life. Further stating how ACOE is our mother, it has protected us, cared for us, sacrificed for us, and loved us unconditionally. We in return need to look after it and protect it.
God bless you Mar Odisho. Thank you for your words of comfort and inspiration.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
The Theology of the Assyrian Church of the East has been stated briefly and clearly in the following “Hymn of Praise (TESHBOKHTA)” Composed by Mar Babai the Great in the sixth century A.D., a noted theologian of the Church.
One is Christ the Son of God,
Worshiped by all in two natures;
In His Godhead begotten of the Father,
Without beginning before all time;
In His humanity born of Mary,
In the fullness of time, in a body united;
Neither His Godhead is of the nature of the mother,
Nor His humanity of the nature of the Father;
The natures are preserved in their Qnumas*,
In one person of one Sonship.
And as the Godhead is three substances in one nature,
Likewise the Sonship of the Son is in two natures, one person.
So the Holy Church has taught.
* Qnuma, is an Aramaic word. The nearest equivalent is the Greek “hypostasis”, in Latin “substantia” and in English “substance”.
Here are the pictures of Assyrian Festival in Los Angeles, CA, sponsored by St. Mary's Parish, Assyrian Church of the East.
Copy and paste the following into your URL to view the photos (All photos by Assyrian Enterprise)
"Blessed be Assyria the Work of My hands." — Isaiah 19:25
Wars and religious persecution have obliterated our ancestral land, Assyria, decades ago, however, the Assyrian people, tradition and language (derived from Aramaic), have survived for more than 7000 years.
For the Assyrian Food Festival, thousands of people gather up to celebrate the traditions and customs of Assyrian culture. The event is designed to give the attendees a tastes of the culture's food, art, and history, along with traditional dancing and music.
A successful event indeed.
The below editorial appeared in the ‘Voice of the East’ magazine, No.53/March-April 2006/Nos. 3 & 4. Voice of the East (Qala Min Madenkha) is a socio-religious bi-monthly magazine which is issued by the Archdiocese of India. His Grace Dr. Mar Aprem is the Metropolitan of the Church of the East in India and is the Patron of the Voice of the East magazine]
"44 Years a Prelate"
Catholicos Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV completed 44 years of service to the Assyrian Church of the East as a prelate on 11 February 2006. It was on Sunday 11 February 1962 Qasha Khnanya became the Bishop in Iran. His consecration was from Catholicos Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun (died on 6 November 1975). In 1976 October 17 Bishop of Iran, Mar Dinkha became Catholicos Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV. Although His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV is only No.4 as a Patriarch by that name. His family had 17 bishops by the same name Bishop Mar Dinkha until the last one was shot in February 1915 in Iran, during the first World War.
Only two prelates associated with him had longer periods as prelates. His consecrator His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun had ruled the church as Patriarch for 53 years (from the age of 12 till 65 when he resigned in August 1973. He was shot dead on November 6, 1975). The prelate who ordained him deacon and priest was Mar Yosip Khnanisho Metropolitan who served the church for 5 years as Bishop and 58 years as Metropolitan till he died on July 3, 1977 in Baghdad.
His Holiness is completing 30 years of his Patriarchate on 17 October 2006. Before that on 15 September 2006 he will be completing 71 years of age. He had completed 41 years of age when he was elected in the Holy Synod in England to become the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East. His Holiness was consecrated in the St. Barnabas Church, Ealing near London, as the Assyrians had not owned any church at that time.
His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV maintained good ecumenical relations with the Catholic, Orthodox and the Protestants. Pope John Paul II, Patriarch of Moscow, Archbishops of Canterbury and others are among the religious dignitaries he had met during his busy schedule. He had met the President of Lebanon, President of Syria, President of Iran, President of Iraq (Saddam Hussein), secular leaders of the USA, India, Australia and many others.
His Holiness sent clergy for education in foreign Universities. So there is a middle level of educated clergy. Choirs, Youth groups were encouraged to be obedient to Christ and the church on earth. Many churches were built, schools were established in India, Australia and California. Many clergy were ordained. Bishops for Australia, California, Canada, North Iraq, Syria, Sweden etc were consecrated. Metropolitan for Iraq Mar Gewargis Sliwa was consecrated in Chicago by His Holiness.
By holding Holy Synods of prelates from all over the globe His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV restored democratic system in the Church administration. During the past 29 years he held 10 Holy Synods in England, Australia, Australia, Baghdad and Chicago. This provides opportunity for prelates to share the concerns of their respective diocese with the Supreme leaders united with a common goal for the progress of our suffering Church.
Honouring graduates in Chicago every year brought many young educated people close to The Church. Many Assyrians feel that they have to be proud of the heritage of their parents. Yes, Church needs young people to be close to God and the faith and tradition of our faith, preserved by our forefathers in adverse circumstances in 1842 (attacks of Bedr Khan Beg), 1914-18 (World War I), 1933 (Semele in North Iraq), 1939-45 (second World War), 1980-88 (Iraq-Iran war), Gulf War in January 1991. etc.
We wish more peaceful days for our Church and its supreme Head.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Copy and Paste the following into your URL and it will lead you there. http://www.assyriasat.org/TapedEvents_050306_02.asx
Mar Gewargis Sliwa, is the Metropolitan of all of Iraq, Jordan and Russia. He gave an excellent lecture on April 27th, 2006 in Chicago. The lecture is a compiled work of all the events that had taken place in the last few years especially the facts that led to the initiation of all the problems our church is currently facing.
Mar Gewargis Sliwa, God bless you for shining a light on truth. We pray that God will use you to awaken the lost and the deceived. Our prayers are with you that the deception which runs so deep in the supporters of the former bishop is exposed for what it is because so many are marching down the broad way and worshiping at the feet of the 'proud', and deceitful person instead of the holy path of Jesus Christ. God bless you and use you, so some will hear the truth before it is too late, and their fate is sealed forever. AMEN.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
His message shows depth of knowledge about our faith, our Assyrian Church of the East, and about our profound respect for our father(s) and forefathers. He showed his strength in faith and in pride of his Assyrian heritage and he quoted, "We would die for only two reasons: First, for our Christian Faith; second, for our beloved Assyrian Nation.
Father Antwan, may God bless you. You are the charismatic leader that has brought joy into our lives during these tough times.You are our hero in San Jose for standing up against Satanic thugs. We are 100% behind you and urge you to continue to speak the truth, as the truth is what the gospel is about. The truth is what bothers Satan.
Friday, April 28, 2006
"To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:15-16)
"A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in his own opinions." (Proverbs 18:2)
"Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool." (Hosea 9:7)
"Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's Sight." (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Many people have shown their intrest in financially contributing toward the court case. If you would like to contribute financially you can find details of payment methods below.
Well Fargo Bank
A/C Number: 8021254423
To wire money:
Routing Number(ABA): 121000248
For overseas wires:
Swift Number: WFBIUS6S
To send cheques (please do not send cash) Our Address:
Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East/ Legal Fund, or
Assyrian Church of the East/ Legal Fund
San Jose, Ca 95160-1025
Monday, April 17, 2006
Dear Mar Dinkha,
May God's love surround you, protect you and be with you on Easter & always. Wishing you a blessed and peaceful Easter.
Please click on the link below to hear the greeting:
Taken from AssyrianCoaliton.com which is the official website for our church.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
The following is a copy of an email "Towards Full Commuion" forwarded by the former Bishop Soro to the clergy of the Assyrian Church of the East who are currently studying in Rome, Italy. It proves the intentions of the former Bishop "to place the Patriarchate of the Assyrian Church of the East under the Roman jurisdiction".
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Bishop of the Western Diocese of California
Assyrian Church of the East Receive our greetings in Christ:The tenth Holy Synod met from Monday, October 31st through Monday, November 7, 2005 under the pastoral guidance of Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicus Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East and in the presence of the following pastors:
H.G. Mar Narsai, Metropolitan of Lebanon, Syria, Europe and the Patriarchal Representative.
H.G. Mar Aprim, Metropolitan of Malabar and of all India
H.G. Mar Gewargis Sleewa, Metropolitan of Iraq and Jordan
H.G. Mar Aprim, Bishop of Western United States
H.G. Mar Meelis Zia, Bishop of Australia, New Zealand, and secretary of the Synod
H.G. Mar Bawai Soro, Bishop of Western California
H.G. Mar Emanuel Yosip, Bishop of Canada
H.G. Mar Odisho Oraham, Bishop of Europe
H.G. Mar Aprim Nathaniel, Bishop of Syria
H.G. Mar Eskhaq Yosip, Bishop of Nuhadra (Iraq) and Russia
In this Synod and in your presence, you were informed that the Synodical decision was reached with the general approval in regard to those two illegal letters dated April 2, 2005 and July 30, 2005 which you wrote to His Holiness the Patriarch. The Synod also studied the complaint against you made by members of Mar Yosip Parish in San Jose.
In both of your letters, you are presumptuously blaming the head of the church, His Holiness the Patriarch of the Apostolic Seat of Seleucia-Ctesiphon and Peter of our times, whom the Synod clearly gives him the authority over all the dioceses of the Assyrian Church of the East. And you say that he has broken the canonical laws and you further say that His Holiness has been the cause of division in the California dioceses especially in the San Jose parish even though His Holiness wrote you and gave you his fatherly advice in his patriarchal letter dated July 2, 2005 in which he states thus:
“Problems, inconveniences, and rejection of changes that you are making in that parish exist between you and the members of the parish. You as the responsible and spiritual father of that parish, you are capable to resolve those issues with ease by adopting the path that Christ has thought us to guide in a humble spirit, with love, wisdom and forgiveness.”
But in your letter you have thus answered his Holiness:
“You have always worked against me and have agitated people to oppose my thinking. You have openly used the politics of divide and rule in the San Jose Parish and California…… thus your unlawful actions have driven Christ out of the church because you are using human thinking.”
You also dared to impose conditions on His Holiness in regard to his performance relative to Mar Yosip parish in San Jose and said:
“Please listen to the advice of bishops and priests, for the sake of keeping peace and harmony between us and in the church. I suggest that you do not come now to visit the city of San Jose parish, in order to avoid further increase of confusion and unpleasantness.
”Tus, His Holiness did not celebrate communion there as it was expected, for this and other unlawful acts that you have taken by which you have broken the synodical cannons of the Assyrian Church of the East and the cannons of Mar Dadesho, Mar Eskhaq, and the Universalists. (See Mar Odisho’s Collection of Synodical canons, Section 9, paragraph 5)
’You forgot your confession read on the day that you were ordained in Mar Gewargis Church in Chicago October 23, 1984 in which you promised to be faithful and respectful to the fatherly seat of Seleucia-Ctesiphon.
It was further asked of you by the Holy Synod that a committee of clergy is sent to your diocese to investigate and find a peaceful way to resolve the problems that exist between you and the parish in San Jose. This was the help that was offered to you by the Holy Synod. Your response was total rejection of this suggestion. Because of this and by means of this synodical letter, we are formally informing your grace about the decisions of the Holy Synod under the leadership of His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, said decision was unanimously approved by all the members of the synod on Saturday, November 5, 2005. These were read to you in your presence but you asked that they be given to you in writing. Thus the letter is being delivered to you by hand. The decisions of the Holy Synod are that you select one of these three:
1. The Holy Synod has been informed that there is a great need for a bishop to assume the responsibility of managing the dioceses of Iran and Russia, and we are asking you to assume this responsibility as soon as possible, or,
2. Yosip Parish in San Jose between you and the parish. This suspension is for a period of two years and you shall be a suspended bishop. This West California Diocese will be managed temporarily by a temporary committee consisting of priests and church members of that parish selected by two bishops who will represent the Holy Synod under the guidance of His Holiness the Patriarch and with the advice of the priests of Western California Diocese. It is also expected from your grace that during this period of two years you will not interfere in the management of that diocese or any other diocese and also:
a. You will not write letters of blame or complaint or talk against the decisions of the Holy Synod as the Cannon laws instruct.
b. You will not hold meetings about this subject or other subjects related to the church affairs
c. You will not appear on radio or TV programs or deliver any speeches in any media. Or other activities that may stir debates or division among the followers of the church in the world.
d. You will cooperate with the representatives of the Holy Synod by providing them with all accounting books and deeds of the properties of the Western California diocese.
e. You have no permission to communicate with other churches about subjects that are relative to the interrelationship of the Assyrian church of the East and other churches. You shall not take part in any programs after the decisions taken by the Holy Synod.
f. The Assyrian Church of the East will pay you a monthly salary as it has been recommended by the temporary committee of the diocese. You shall have permission to participate in all church services of the Assyrian church of the East and you shall not have the permission to ordain anyone. During your suspension, if you do not comply with the points outlined in paragraph A thru F, then your bishopric authority will be suspended.
3. If you do not comply with one of the two points mentioned in paragraph 1 and 2, then the Holy Synod regretfully asks you to submit your resignation from the office of the bishop all in all.
We shall wait for your written response on these decisions until Friday, November 11, 2005 before 12:00 noon;
Send your response to the Patriarchal office via facsimile (1-847-966-0012) or to the above address. And if you do not respond, then the Holy Synod is suspending you from the office of bishop in the Assyrian Church of the East.
In conclusion, we expect your response and we wish you good health for body and soul.
May the grace of Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us.
Written in the Holy Synod of the Assyrian Church of the East
Monday, November 7, 2005
Names of Prelates signing this decision
1) Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East
2) Mar Narsai DeBaz, Metropolitan of Lebanon, Syria & Europe
3) Mar Aprem (of India), Metropolitan of Malabar and All India
4) Mar Gewargis Sliwa, Metropolitan of Iraq
5) Mar Aprem Khamis, Bishop of Western United States
6) Mar Meelis Zaia, Bishop of Australia and New Zealans, Secretary of the Holy Synod
7) Mar Emanuel Yosip, Bishop of Canada
8) Mar Odisho Auraham, Bishop of Europe
9) Mar Afram Nathniel, Bishop of Syria10) Mar Isaac Yosip, Bishop of Nohadra (Iraq) and Russia