(SAN DIEGO) – Leaders of the Armenian Church of San Diego met with senior leaders of the Office of Mayor Todd Gloria on Friday, December 3, to discuss issues facing Armenians in San Diego, across California, and the homeland.
Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad Berjekian, Parish Priest; Yerevan Ohannessian, Parish Council Chairman; Lisa Kradjian, Consecration Committee Co-Chair; and Beth Broussalian, Building and Design Committees Member, met with Nick Serrano, Deputy Chief of Staff; Michaela Valk, Director of Community Engagement; and Rita Fernandez, Director of Global Affairs. The church delegation shared with the Mayor’s staff the overall history of Armenia and of the Karabagh War, background on the San Diego Armenian Community, the latest on the attacks and human rights violations of Azerbaijan, and news of the recent hate crimes and vandalism against Armenians and Armenian churches in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The latter, in particular, prompts local concern about the safety of the new Armenian Church of San Diego which will be consecrated January 29, 2022.
The reason for the meeting grew from the San Diego Azerbaijan community requesting a proclamation from the Mayor’s Office the same weekend as the Armenian Church of San Diego received a Mayoral proclamation for its original Consecration date of October 16, 2022. The Azerbaijani proclamation was to celebrate the recent return of its “ancestral lands” taken 30 years ago (in the war with Armenia) — lands which Armenians know as Artsakh/Karabagh.
The grave oversight met with strong responses and concerns from the San Diego Armenian community. The Mayor, unaware of the history of oppression of Azerbaijan against Armenians, promptly rescinded the Azeri proclamation and apologized to the San Diego Armenian community. He then requested a meeting with his staff and Armenian church leaders to become more familiar with Armenian issues.
The meeting was warm and informative, including the sharing of crafts, articles and books about Armenian heritage. The Mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Serrano thanked the delegation for informing them more fully about Armenian history and current issues and challenges. He pledged ongoing assistance to help the church get needed resources for additional security of the new church site.
The San Diego Armenian community and churchgoers are grateful to San Diego Mayor the Hon. Todd Gloria, and his staff, for their attentiveness and understanding to the San Diego Armenian community and homeland.