The Women’s Guild of the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs began as the Women’s Auxiliary in 1954 with a gathering of about 60 women October 27, 1954. Then, as now, the aim was to bring women of the church together for study, fellowship, worship, and service. Over the years, the Women’s Guild has been a major contributor in the successful operation of the church, through its service, leadership and fundraising efforts.
The Women’s Guild encourages spiritual growth through study and worship in several ways. Each general meeting is opened with a prayer, followed by a devotional. This is often an expository talk about a particular passage of the Bible, a significant topic or theme, or a church holy day, and is sometimes accompanied by the sharing of personal experiences that resulted in strengthening of faith. The English and Armenian languages are used as often as possible for the benefit of all members.
The Women’s Guild has planned and participated in many retreats, often coordinated or assisted by the Department of Christian Education of our Diocese. Every three years or so, the Holy Martyrs Women’s Guild hosts the Saintly Women’s Day commemoration sponsored by our Diocese. Our Guild has the distinction of having hosted the first Women Saints Day Celebration. Each year, a different saintly woman is remembered. The day’s activities include a worship service, during which the life of the honoree is highlighted, followed by a Lenten luncheon. Visiting clergy and Women’s Guild members of neighboring Armenian parishes share in this day of fellowship. Our women also visit and participate at other churches when we are not the designated host parish.
Service to our church and community manifests itself in many ways. Members have served on the Altar Committee, which was responsible for altar cloths and curtains, the Guild being a major contributor in refurbishing the altar and donating funds for this project. Mahs is prepared as often as needed as are grapes for the Feast of the Assumption. Each Holy Thursday, the Women’s Guild hosts the Communion Breakfast that follows the Divine Liturgy. Traditionally, residents of the New York Armenian Home are invited to attend the service and breakfast. Christmas Communion Breakfast is also offered every January 6, after which a group of our members visits the Armenian Home to present special treats to the residents.
The Women’s Guild is often called upon to be actively involved in church dinners, festivals, food fairs, Lenten suppers, and fellowship hours. These responsibilities are fulfilled willingly and with expertise. Involvement in community service both here and abroad is a trademark of our organization. Food and monetary donations have been collected and delivered to charitable organizations that help the needy. Clothing drives have also helped those in domestic shelters and in Armenia. Whenever called upon, the Guild participates in our church’s on-going fundraising activities and has earned the title of “back-bone of the church.”
Active attendance and participation in the annual Women’s Guild Assembly each May has been a tradition. Members of Holy Martyrs’ guild have been elected to the Central Council and the Nominating Committee on several occasions. In 1988, our guild was awarded the first Annual Women’s Guild Achievement Trophy by the Women’s Guild Central Council, and was presented with a Certificate of Honorable Mention in 1991. Our guild was again awarded the Trophy in 1992 for being the most active and productive Women’s Guild in the Diocese. The Women’s Guild Central Council initiated and has continued to sponsor several projects to aid our people in Armenia. Holy Martyrs has actively participated in the “School Bag Drive for Students in Armenia,” and “Children of Armenia Sponsorship Program.” Many members also made contributions toward the Habitat for Humanity Armenia project. Our guild now sponsors two children in Armenia under the Central Council’s “CASP” by providing funds and corresponding with the children and their families.
An Outreach Committee has been formed, addressing the needs of members, helping with transportation and encouragement as needed. Initiated by the Women’s Guild on the occasion of our church’s 50th anniversary, a Prayer Shawl Ministry has been expanded to include the entire church family, with prayers being offered while shawls are crocheted and knitted. The shawls were presented to the residents of the New York Armenian Home in October 2008 and will be presented to others in need of encouragement.
Guild members have been elected as members of the Parish Council, have served as Council Chairs and Diocesan Delegates, and are members of other auxiliaries and organizations connected with our church. It is often Women’s Guild members who make significant contributions and take on major responsibilities within these organizations, thus demonstrating their continued commitment and love for Holy Martyrs.
Although delayed somewhat due to the Centennial Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and other important parish events, our Women’s Guild will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2016, with a gala dinner and program.
The Guild publishes a monthly newsletter which is sent to its members, announcing its events and activities. Membership meetings are held once a month on the last Wednesday of the month at 11:30 am in the Church Auditorium. For further information and to become a member please contact the church office (718-225-0235).