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This day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide: the systematic and intentional destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people.
This day is chosen for the commemoration because the international community recognizes April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people during and just after World War I. On April 24, 1915, more than 250 Armenian notables—civic and political leaders, teachers, writers, and members of the clergy—were rounded up, imprisoned, tortured, and killed. Before the cessation of conﬂict, it is estimated that as many as one-and-a-half million Armenians perished, many as the result of forced marches, deliberate starvation, and heinous massacres. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the Armenian Genocide to be the greatest crime of World War I. The close relationships between Anglicans and Episcopalians and our sisters and brothers in the Armenian Church make the remembrance of this day a particular sign of our fellowship in the body of Christ.
Tragically, human history is littered with such atrocities and the Armenian Genocide was far from the last such mass extermination of people in the twentieth century. One need only mention Croatia, Nazi Germany, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Kurdish Iraq, and Tibet, and this is by no means a comprehensive list. The unﬂinching resolve of people of faith, in prayer and in action, is critical if the travesty of human genocide is to be curbed and eventually stopped.
I Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, whose loving care knoweth no bounds and embraceth all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom thou hast reconciled the world to thyself; and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
II Almighty God, our Refuge and our Rock, your loving care knows no bounds and embraces all the peoples of the earth: Defend and protect those who fall victim to the forces of evil, and as we remember this day those who endured depredation and death because of who they were, not because of what they had done or failed to do, give us the courage to stand against hatred and oppression, and to seek the dignity and well-being of all for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, in whom you have reconciled the world to yourself; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Preface of Holy Week
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
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We invite your reflections about this commemoration and its suitability for the official calendar and worship of The Episcopal Church. How did this person’s life witness to the Gospel? How does this person inspire us in Christian life today?
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