Monday, April 06, 2015

100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide - April 24, 1915 to April 24, 2015

by Joan Topalian
In 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. There were about 2 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire at the time of the massacre. By the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country. Today, most historians call this event a genocide—a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an entire people. However, the Turkish Government does not acknowledge the enormity or scope of these events (My mother was a survivor of the 1915 genocide living in Adana, Turkey with her mother).

The Armenian people have made their home in the Caucasus region of Eurasia for some 3,000 years. For some of that time, the Kingdom of Armenia was an independent entity—at the beginning of the 4th century ad, Armenia became the first nation in the world to make Christianity its official Religion. During the 15th century, Armenia was absorbed into the mighty Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman rulers, like most of their subjects, were Muslim. They permitted religious minorities like the Armenians to maintain some autonomy, but they also subjected Armenians, who they viewed as “infidels,” to unequal and unjust treatment. Christians had to pay higher taxes than Muslims, for example, and they had very few political and legal rights.

In spite of these obstacles, the Armenian community thrived under Ottoman rule. They tended to be better educated and wealthier than their Turkish neighbors, who in turn tended to resent their success. This resentment was compounded by suspicions that the Christian Armenians would be more loyal to Christian governments (that of the Russians, for example, who shared an unstable border with Turkey) than they were to the Ottoman Caliphate.

These suspicions grew more acute as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. At the end of the 19th Century, the despotic Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II –obsessed with loyalty above all, and infuriated by the nascent Armenian campaign to win basic civil rights—declared that he would solve the “Armenian Question” once and for all. “I will soon settle those Armenians. I will give them a box on the ear which will make them…Relinquish their revolutionary ambitions.”

Between 1894 and 1896, this “box on the ear” took the form of a state-sanctioned program. In response to large scale protests by Armenians, Turkish military officials, Soldiers and ordinary men sacked Armenian villages and cities and massacred their citizens. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were murdered.

In 1908, a new government came to power in Turkey. A group of reformers who called themselves the “Young Turks” overthrew Sultan Abdul Hamid and established a more modern constitutional government. According to them, non-Turks—and especially Christian non-Turks—were a grave threat to the new State.

In 1914, the Turks entered World War I on the side of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (at the same time, Ottoman religious authorities declared Jihad, or Holy War, against all Christians except their allies). Military leaders began to argue that the Armenians were traitors: If they thought they could win independence if the Allies were victorious, this argument went, the Armenians would be eager to fight for the enemy.

On April 24, 1915, the Armenian Genocide began. That day, the Turkish government arrested and executed several hundred Armenian intellectuals. After that, ordinary Armenians were turned out of their homes and sent on death marches through the Mesopotamian desert without food or water. Frequently, the marchers were stripped naked and forced to walk under the scorching sun until they dropped dead. People who stopped to rest were shot.

At the same time, the young Turks created a “special organization,” which in turn organized “killing squads” or “butcher battalions” to carry out “the liquidation of the Christian elements.” 
Records show that during this, “Turkification” campaign government squads also kidnapped children, converted them to Islam and gave them to Turkish families. In some places, they raped women and forced them to join Turkish “harems” or serve as slaves. Muslim families moved into the homes of deported Armenians and seized their property. 

In 1922, when the genocide was over, there were just 388,000 Armenians remaining in the Ottoman Empire.

After the Ottomans surrendered in 1918, the leaders of the young Turks fled to Germany, which promised not to prosecute them for the genocide. The Turkish government has denied that Genocide took place. Today, Turkey is an important ally of the US and other western nations, and so their governments have likewise been reluctant to condemn the long-ago killings. In March 2010, a US Congressional Panel at last voted to recognize the Genocide.

The American Ambassador, Henry Morganthau, Sr, was outspoken about what was happening during the genocide.  In his memoirs, the Ambassador would write: “When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact.” A telegram sent by Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr., to the State Department on 16 July 1915 describes the Massacres as a “Campaign of Race Extermination.”

We will remember the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide during the “Joys and Concerns” on Sunday, April 19, 2015.

The New York Times “Armenian Genocide of 1915: An overview” by John Kifner
Armenian Genocide – Facts & Summary –
Armenian Genocide – Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Monday, March 23, 2015

Holy Week, Holy Time

As March draws to a close, so will our Lenten journey. We mark the end of Lent with Holy Week – the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday.

Holy Week Worship Schedule

Holy Week is a beautiful time of mystery and awe. It is a time to relive the final moments of Christ’s human experience. Christmas is usually the time when we talk about incarnation – how God became human in Jesus Christ. But Christmas is just one bookend to the incarnation story. The other bookend is Holy Week. It isn’t something we just tolerate to get to the good stuff of Easter. Holy Week represents intentional time in our calendars to remember that God loves enough to live our lives, suffer our suffering, and die our death.

Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, with the crowd waving palm branches and shouting “Hosanna!” The entry into Jerusalem was a political act: the donkey contrasted with Roman chariots, but was also a symbol of the Davidic king prophesied in Zechariah 9. Palm branches were a traditional way of celebrating Judean kings, much like we wave American flags for our parades today. “Hosanna” literally means “save us,” but when the crowds shouted it they were implying that they believed Jesus was capable of saving them. When we cry “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday, we assert the same thing – Jesus can and does save us.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week do not have any special worship services attached to them in Methodism. Orthodox churches have special Christ the Bridegroom liturgies for these days that combine the parable of the ten bridesmaids from Matthew 25 with the image of a bloodied Jesus, wrapped in a purple robe, being mocked by the Roman soldiers. Christ the Bridegroom dons this humiliating garb to claim his bride, the Church.

Maundy Thursday marks Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. The word “maundy” comes from a misunderstanding of the Latin mandatum, or commandment.  “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another” (John 13: 34). We mark Maundy Thursday with Holy Communion and foot washing, experiencing and remembering Jesus’ final actions with his gathered friends.

What is good about Good Friday? Linguistically, nothing: the “Good” in Good Friday is a corruption of “God” (just as Good-bye is a corruption of the phrase “God be with ye”). But the resurrection follows the horror of Good Friday; the ultimate example of how God can use a bad situation to bring about something good. We mark Good Friday with worship centered on Jesus’ last words from the cross, words of pain and abandonment, but also words of forgiveness and love.

I invite you to take time during Holy Week to worship, pray and contemplate the final week of Christ’s human life. (Worship times at Metropolitan are listed in the sidebar.) Allow the mystery and awe of Holy Week to bring you closer to the God who loves you.

Rev. Janet Craswell

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Concert & Art Exhibition

Concert & Art Exhibition
Sunday, March 22, 3pm - Concert, 4:30pm - Art Exhibition

Concert: Spring, Love, etc.!
Spring may not be “bustin’ out all over” outside, but join us inside Metropolitan Memorial at 3pm for a concert called “Spring, Love, etc.! Songs from Broadway and Beyond.”

The performers will be members of various military ensembles, out of uniform. Some participate in our early-service music program. Others are friends and acquaintances of theirs. They will be presenting songs from musical theater, written by composers ranging from Broadway legends such as Rodgers and Hammerstein to modern musical-theater figures such as Jason Robert Brown. There will be a mix of classic and modern Broadway songs, from the well known to the somewhat obscure.
The performers are excited about doing this program. You’ll certainly want to be in the audience to hear them. Who knows: it might be almost like being in love! The celebration will continue at a reception and the opening of a beautiful photography show in the Great Hall.

Art Exhibition: Visible but Unseen, Photographs by James & Kathryn K. Steele

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  The truth of this statement is found in our new show which showcases the work of two area photographers: both find beauty in the world around us; both define beauty differently.

For Kathryn Steele, beauty is in the world of nature.  Where we might see just trees or water or desert, Kathryn is open to finding beauty in ordinary places.  There are photographs where we would never have seen something interesting until Kathryn saw it.  Nature’s Paisley is one of those images.  Kathryn saw the possibilities in those blue swirls, cropped a section of the water, and then gave a name that is perfect for highlighting the beauty in that photograph: Nature’s Paisley.

On the other hand, James Steele says, “I have recently come to realize that flowers that are not freshly cut and in full bloom are entering a more visually interesting phase. . . In showing the flower pictures, I am struck by how many folks comment that they didn’t realize that declining flowers could be so beautiful. Maybe this is a result of seeing them large where small details are made visible.”

Come and engage with the natural world, stretch your minds and discover a hint of the warmer days to come. Enjoy! Exhibition runs from  March 22 - April 26. Sundays (9am - noon), M-F (9am - 5pm). See the receptionist in the church office for weekday entrance.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Support Our Youth in Mission!

Youth in Mission Auction
Sunday, March 22, 12:30pm, Vestry

Join us for our annual Youth in Mission Auction. This year we will be celebrating 41 years of service in Appalachia through ASP. We will have lunch, an auction, and a talent show featuring our youth choir. This year, we will be taking 35 youth with us to Tennessee, which may be our largest group ever. Funds raised at this event will go to support our high school students on ASP and our middle school students on Youth 4 the DC Cause. Your generous support allows us to offer these experiences for no cost to our tweens and teens.

See what we've done on our Youth 4 th DC Cause and ASP mission trips in the past and help us continue our work in the future!

For more information, contact Patrick Landau, Director of Youth Ministries

Monday, March 09, 2015

A Lenten Carbon "Fast"

"Lent is a time to repent, reflect, sacrifice, and listen for God." This year, The Green Team suggests that we all join with many others in taking on a Lenten Carbon “Fast.” May this season serve as a wake-up call to be mindful of the ways that our daily choices impact everyone, especially people living in poverty. Each of these actions will reduce our production of climate pollution and help to preserve God’s great gift of Creation.”

The Green Team would like to share with our community the Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar  offered by our friends at Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light. Each day of the calendar gives suggestions for how to Care more for Creation bit by bit. Here is an opportunity to explore new activities that will “nudge” us toward a more sustainable future for all.

The Green Team would also like to report that we have now saved nearly 4000 disposable water bottles from landfill or the waterways by using our two water bottle filling stations at the water fountains next to the office and the Great Hall at Metropolitan! Great work by all!

April will include Green Team sponsored speakers at Food for Thought: Topical Study: A Hopeful Earth: Faith, Science and the Message of Jesus by Sally Dyck and Sarah Ehrman. Led by Rev. Dottie Yunger.

This study pairs the Christian faith of Bishop Sally Dyck and the scientific world of her niece, Sarah Ehrman, as they discover how the church can reach the younger generation by joining them in the race to save the environment that God created.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

We Raised the Dough!

Last week, Campus Kitchens across the country competed against one another to see who could raise the most money to support their hunger-fighting work. They galvanized hundreds of student, congregation, and community supporters – 943, to be exact – with impressive results. Together, they raised $56,293 to support their innovative student-powered hunger relief efforts.

The Campus Kitchen at Washington, DC (CKWDC) raised $12,715, thereby winning an additional $1,000 prize for raising the most “dough” of any Campus Kitchen. CKWDC will use the funds they raised to support their food recovery and meal production efforts – we plan to create 15,000 healthy, balanced meals for Washington, DC residents this year alone. Further, the Campus Kitchen is aiming to expand their services to an under-served community east of the Anacostia River to provide fresh produce and healthful meals in an area considered a food desert. Thank you to all who support us!

The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College came in second place, raising $10,537 and winning an additional $500 grant. Students with the Campus Kitchen at Saint Peter’s University raised $6,000 to come in third, winning an additional $250. Finally, a $750 prize was also given to the Campus Kitchen at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore/Shady Grove (who raised $5,020) for engaging 159 donors – the most of any competitor.

A giant “thank you” goes out to all of our  donors and to all who shared our challenge with their own networks. Your support makes all the difference in powering our lean and sustainable solutions to hunger. Thank you for investing in our work!

- Rev. Dottie Yunger

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dona Collary, 20 Years at Metropolitan

 Dona Collary, 20 Years at Metropolitan
By Barry D. Wood
Like only a few others, Dona Collary is the institutional memory of Metropolitan Memorial. Hired 20 years ago as a bookkeeper, Dona has toiled under five senior pastors from Bill Holmes to Charlie Parker. Over the years she has been the finance chief, director of administration and is now working as the pastoral care assistant. In addition to this position she is also in charge of weddings and funerals and works closely on all elements of those events.

Dona is self-proclaimed “old school,” with a formidable work ethic and fervent loyalty. There are few tasks she’s unwilling to take on. She was intimately involved in both the $6 million capital campaign that among other things installed the steeple and completed the stonework on the east fa├žade. Earlier she oversaw the $5 million campaign that built the new wing that houses church offices and the gathering space above.

Dona grew up in small town Amsbry in central Pennsylvania, where her 95-year-old mother still lives. She’s been married to Don, a retired accountant, for 52-years. Her daughter recently moved from Beltsville, where Dona lives, to Annapolis and her son Scott is a banker who just took a position in financial services in Melbourne, Australia. Dona has four grandchildren and a “great-grand dog,” Boots.

For most of her working life Dona held two jobs. She was in multiple positions during a 20-year career at Sears in the White Oak Mall in Silver Spring. Beginning in hosiery and handbags, she advanced to personnel, credit and finally customer services where she supervised a staff of 30. Dona becomes misty-eyed when talking about the demise of a once great company.

While Dona was at Sears she worked 12 years at a second job at a property management firm in Silver Spring. She came to Metropolitan in February 1995 and continued part time at Sears for several years.

Many things have changed over these 20 years and one of them is that a commute to Beltsville that used to take as little as 20-minutes now takes an hour. Join us in honoring Dona Collary and her 20 years of service on Sunday, February 22 at 10:10am in the Vestry and during the 9am and 11:15am Worship Services at Metropolitan Memorial.