BUENOS AIRES–The 81st General Assembly of the Armenian General Benevolent Union was held on December 2–2000–in the Sahagian Hall of Alex Manoogian Center–under the chairmanship of its president–Louise Simone Manoogian.
During the meeting–reports were presented–discussed and ratified by the delegates. AGBU has allocated more than $28 million during 1999 for its humanitarian–cultural and educational programs.
Louise Simone Manoogian–stated in her assembly address–"The third generation is fortunate to inherit from the first and second generation a solid foundation of religious–cultural and educational institutions. They are–however–a 21st century generation: highly educated–sophisticated and assimilated. With their interpersonal–technical and management training–they are result oriented. They will be more interested in creating new programs that utilize their skills and fields of expertise. Unfortunately–the new generation will also inherit the political and religious divisions we have been unable to solve for more than 50 years: Divisions which have affected our productivity and our financial resources–not to mention our unity on critical national issues. Maybe the third generation will have a new view on how to receive our political and religious conflicts. Perhaps it is time to ask our maturing third generation to examine the problems and begin a new dialogue. But when they do–we have to respect their opinions and give them a chance without interference."
Manoogian acknowledged the hardships faced by the people of Armenia–yet she also spoke of positive signs as a new generation matures in the country. She expressed the pride AGBU takes as founder and major benefactor of the American University of Armenia with its recent achievemen’s. Eighty percent of the 850 graduates are pursuing successful careers in Armenia. Their skills make them the most sought after job applicants in the country.
Commenting on the celebrations planned for the 1,700th anniversary of the Armenian Apostolic Church–Manoogian said–"While this anniversary is historic–the role of Echmiadzin in Armenia has become even more critical. In these difficult days–people need faith–hope–a national spirit and activity. For most of the last century–95 percent of the population were never baptized–married or buried in the church–let alone allowed to enter the doors. Only five or six churches were open in Yerevan and almost none in the towns and villages. All religious institutions have now been returned to Echmiadzin but most are historic sites–far removed from the people. In the last few years–benefactors have funded the construction of new churches–some in neighborhoods of 150,000 residents–who are lighting candles for the first time in their lives."
The AGBU chairwoman concluded by saying–"For us today–there is no sacrifice too great. Armenia is the single most important factor for the eternal existence of our heritage. Armenia’s have endured worse in their thousands of years of history. This will be our challenge and the challenge of the third generation is the 21st century."