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Grisha Balasanyan

St. Anna Church Consecrated in Aghavnatoun

A festive spirit permeated the village of Aghavnatoun in Armenia’s Armavir Province yesterday.

After three years of construction, the Saint Anna Armenian Apostolic Church, financed by former village resident Vahan Avagyan who now lives in Russia, was consecrated.

The courtyard of the new church was also festooned with Armenian stone crosses sculpted by Rouben Nalbandyan, a gift from other former Aghavnatoun residents who have found financial success abroad.

When I asked Mr. Nalbandyan why was it that religious sects were attracting increasing numbers of adherents even though Armenian churches were being built all over the place, the sculptor said it was an issue of one side doing a better job of sermonizing.

“The sects really do a lot of work in this regard while our priests are holed up in their rooms. They don’t visit the flock or the sick. A priest should know the names of all his parishioners in the community and what their family situation is. Sect representatives come around and force their way inside, even if you close the door on them. Naturally, two out of every ten families they visit will end up following them.”