A Brief Time-Line of ATPI...
SUMMER of 2014...
In August of 2014, a group of six Turks and one Armenian from Turkey met together with a group of Armenians from the US to discuss both the history that divides us and the faith that brings us together. In that meeting, one of the Turkish pastors began passionately asking for forgiveness for all that had happened in 1915 and the years leading up to it. "How could we see the church in Turkey grow today," he said, "without first coming humbly before the Armenian people whom our ancestors had acted so treacherously against. The Armenian church is nearly two thousand years old whereas the Turkish church was essentially 30 years old. And so, in a very real sense, the Armenian people are the spiritual fathers of our land. And, if the spiritual children are to flourish, than we'll need to blessing of our spiritual mothers and fathers whose families once filled our land." And so, with great humility, he cried out for forgiveness. Everyone in that room, the Armenians, the Turks, and a group intercessors and peacemakers observing and praying... everyone was moved, realizing the work of reconciliation that has just happened before their eyes. That group of men and women knew that this was just the beginning.
Several nights later, around three hundred Armenians in Pasadena gathered at the Armenian Brotherhood Church to hear from these Turkish believers. What they saw and heard astonished them... and suddenly, these Armenians, most of whom have never felt anything more than hurt and anger toward the Turkish people, were now embracing these particular Turks. Something changed. Reconciliation. "All this is from God, who through Christ, reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18
THE PASADENA COVENANT
The Pasadena Covenant was a document created by that first group of Turks and Armenians meeting in Pasadena in 2014:
As recipients of God’s grace and redemption called to be truth-tellers and peacemakers in our broken world, we acknowledge the reality of evil and seek God's blessing on the nations.
We, the participants of the first Armenian-Turkish Pastors Initiative (ATPI), affirm that together in Jesus Christ we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that we may declare together the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.
We Turkish pastors, with humble and contrite hearts have come at the invitation of our Armenian brothers in Christ to apologize and seek their blessing and forgiveness. We have no words that can undo what our ancestors have done; yet in Christ we receive their love, hospitality, forgiveness and fellowship. We joyfully receive their partnership in the gospel to reach the people of our nation for Christ.
As recipients of God’s grace and forgiveness, we Armenian pastors accept the repeated apologies of our Turkish brothers for the horrors inflicted on the Christian peoples of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and forgive them without condition or demand. We release them and the Turkish church of any generational culpability. Furthermore, ask forgiveness from our Turkish brothers in Christ for our people’s failure and unwillingness throughout the centuries to share the love and mercy of Jesus Christ with their neighbors.
Together, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, we clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience, committing ourselves to bear with each other and forgive one another any grievances from the past, in the present or in the future; to forgive as the Lord forgave us. We will love one another and bind ourselves to each other for the sake of the Gospel in the unity Christ gives.
As people redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, Turkish and Armenian Christians, we stand together for the truth, identifying and denouncing evil and the works of the evil one, whether acts of violence or attitudes of vengeance or condemnation.
We covenant together both in prayer and action to seek the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace for our peoples in Christ.
We covenant together both in prayer and action to build genuine relationships between our churches and ourselves to see the land of our peoples reached with the gospel of grace and peace.
WINTER & Spring of 2015...
Building off of what happened in Pasadena, ATPI led a second gathering in New Jersey with three Turkish pastors from Turkey. One hundred and fifty Armenians attended this gathering. During the event, one of the Turkish leaders said, "When my grandparents were killing yours, they were speaking words of cursing and hatred. Would you allow me to speak words of blessing and love?" And so, in Turkish, he prayed over the community of Armenians. Then an Armenian man came up and prayed in Armenian over him. No one left that day the same as when they arrived.
Just one month later, ATPI sponsored its first event in Istanbul Turkey. But this time, not only had many more Turkish pastors and leaders attended, but a large delegation from Armenia attended as well, along with Armenians from Canada and other Diaspora nations. It was also meaningful to have a large number of young men and woman there. From worship in Armenian, Turkish, and English... to teachings on reconciliation... to some of the most amazing testimonies one could ever hear, this event was memorable in every respect: healing, forgiveness, relationship, understanding, partnership, reconciliation! At the conclusion of this gathering, many Armenians from North America traveled in groups to their ancestral cities around Turkey. These trip was captured on one of ATPI's documentaries.
SPRING of 2016
In April of 2016, the leadership council of ATPI gathering in Adana for three days of planning. But, as usual, God turned our meetings into something far more profound as they prayed over an area where so many Armenians were killed. Both the Armenians and Turks who were present were all reminded of the importance of what they had set out to do through ATPI. It was decided that a new leadership structure be established for ATPI. And so, from that meeting forward, there would be an international board led by ATPI's founder, as well as a country leader for Turkey, Armenia, and North America (and the Diaspora).
Following those meetings, the leadership counsel flew to Istanbul in order to launched the fourth ATPI gathering. This time over 150 Armenian and Turkish leaders were in attendance. It was inspiring to see how many Armenians came from Armenia and throughout the Diaspora (from Canada, France, UK, etc). Turkish believers spoke openly about our shared past, asking for forgiveness while Armenians were laying down their historic hatred and unforgiveness. Together they focused on how to work together to see God's work expand amongst both peoples.
FALL of 2017
Instead of a centralized ATPI gathering in 2017, it was decided to hold regional gatherings, in the US, Turkey, and Armenia. And so, this Fall, ATPI-North America is sponsoring a number of events in Fresno and Southern California. We expect the eight Turkish pastors/leaders from Turkey and one Armenian pastor from Turkey to speak to over a thousand people from the Armenian community.