On this Mother’s Day, May 8, 2022, I cannot help but think of the amazing Mothering God who is a stunning Parent to all of life. Today, I am trying my best to write to you words that are more than a report, but a reflection on my life story so far, which is but one part of God’s Sacred Story.
Every time I hear the words report, reflection, motion, proposal, etc., I get nervous beyond my belief. Where do I begin? Yes, as a minister I write sermons/reflections each week, but there is always that weekly fear that shows up, and a part of me wants to quit, but the other part of me, prayerfully, trusts God to make every word a life-giving word and make this world a better place. All worship leaders, I believe, understand what I am talking about. Every word we speak must bring Comfort and Challenge to the listeners and speakers alike to make this world a better place.
I still recall a moment in March 2019, in the middle of the Zion United Church in Carleton Place. While we were waiting in line to pick up lunch, a colleague who was passing by with her lunch in her hands, said, “How about that position, Tak, president elect?” I stopped in my tracks, and I said, “What?” She repeated the question, and this time with confidence greater than I could ever imagine, I said, “No Way!” But you all know that is not where the story ends – May 28, 2022, will mark 588 days of serving this wonderful regional council with reverence and respect. I am truly honoured, and humbled to have served God at this capacity. I never imagined that such a call was waiting for me on this journey.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because there is something beyond our comprehension that brings us places to bring justice and equality to all, even when we think we are not qualified enough.
You see, when I was born, my mother, Nevart (Little Rose in Armenian) wanted to name me Esther, after Queen Esther of the Hebrew Bible. However, my father, Vramchabouh (named after the Armenian King who reigned over Armenia 389-414) suggested to my mother that the name Esther is an old Jewish name, and they should name me Takouhi (Queen), as Esther was a queen and Takouhi was a popular Armenian name in the 1960s.
Fast forward to 2022. When I automatically became a commissioner to GC-44, which was delayed from 2021 to 2022, I had no thoughts on the privileges a commissioner would have. But in February 2022, I e-mailed our General Secretary, Rev. Michael Blair, and asked him a lingering question that I have asked the United Church of Canada, since 2015, from Presbyteries, Conferences to General Council Office and Regional Councils and have gotten no concrete reply, except now, from Rev. Blair. My question: “Has UCC ever recognized the Armenian Genocide of 1915?” This horrific event is the one that my father survived as an infant, with his parents, and my maternal grandparents as well.
Thanks to Rev. Blair, he did his due diligence and found out that there is no such record in Archives or otherwise. He reminded me that as a commissioner, I can bring forth a proposal from the floor, and the deadline was March 30, 2022. Through God’s Grace and a few colleagues’ help, we got the proposal ready and sent it on March 30, which was the deadline for all proposals from the floor.
Why is this worth becoming your president’s report? Because the words, “For such a time as this…” from Esther 4:14, keeps on echoing in my heart and mind. Yes, I am not sure what the outcome will be, but that is not my job to worry about – my job is to do what is the task in front of me and trust the rest with God.
Beloved, God works in mysterious ways. Yes, I was not too keen on becoming involved with the executive of our regional council, because time is a very rare commodity these days, but the Spirit nudging me through a colleague, and a fifteen-day wrestle, turned my No into a YES! and has brought me this far. If we want the Church to grow and God’s Presence be evident here on earth, we need to come out of our Comfort Zones.
Today, would you stop for a moment and see where God is calling you to partner up, whether that is in your regional council, or other parts of the Body of Christ.
Serving this regional council has taught me so much, including the fact that even when we are unable to do the task at hand because of personal loss or communal pastoral emergencies, God provides what we need. I lost two sisters during this term and so many other things that took place that were complicated and challenging to go through, however, God has carried me through. The Executive and the Planning Teams have been an amazing support beyond my imagination.
I have been blessed by all of you through the Grace of God. I am ever grateful for Rev. Rosemary’s support and Bronwen Harman’s stepping up to the position to lead not just one but two gatherings, I have been touched by the Grace of God repeatedly through ALL of you. I also want to extend a deep gratitude to Grace United Church in Gananoque, who have supported this presidency term with joy. You have been a “Rock” that I can lean on – Thank YOU!
Therefore, Beloved, remember these words “For such a time as this…” and contemplate where God is calling you to serve. Where is God calling you to be? Remember that Change begins with us … and as the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Grace is Free but not Cheap” and the first step to change begins when we leave our comfort zones.
Thank you for trusting God and trusting me to be your president for the last 588 days. I am ever grateful “For such a time as this…”
Because of Grace,
Rev. Takouhi Demirdjian-Petro
Ordained Minister – Grace United Church, Gananoque, ON
President of E.O.O.R.C. (October 17, 2020 – May 28, 2022)