SYDNEY, Australia—The Uniting Church in Australia was honored with the Freedom Award, leading an illustrious list of award recipients at the Armenian National Committee of Australia’s (ANC Australia) Annual Banquet in Sydney, Australia on Friday, November 4, 2016.
The Annual Banquet, which kicked off ANC Australia Advocacy Week, raised over $90,000 to further Armenian interests in Australian public affairs.
The keynote speaker for the event was visiting Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America, Raffi Hamparian, who received a standing ovation for his rallying remarks in support of global advocacy by Armenian National Committees around the world.
The Uniting Church in Australia is the third-largest Christian denomination in Australia, and in 2015, its Assembly passed a unanimous motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The motion was moved by Armenian Reverend Dr. Krikor Youmshajekian.
Adding significance to their motion is that the hall located inside St. Stephen’s Church in Sydney’s iconic Macquarie Street is named after Reverend John Ferguson, who established the Armenian Relief Fund of Australia in 1915. It was through the work of the Uniting Church in Australia that thousands of Armenians survived the Armenian Genocide.
The Freedom Award by ANC Australia thanked the Uniting Church for their historic motion, as well as acknowledged their initiation of Australia’s first major humanitarian relief campaign to aid the Armenians forced to flee their homes in Western Armenia by the Ottoman Empire.
Members and clergy of the Uniting Church in Australia, as well as the Armenian Evangelical Church of Australia, were in attendance to witness the church’s President, Stuart McMillan accept the award along with Reverend Dr. Youmshajekian.
McMillan thanked ANC Australia for this honor and confirmed that his Church was delivering on their motion’s promise to encourage the Federal government of Australia to follow the leads of the State governments of New South Wales and South Australia by recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
“I wrote to the Prime Minister and urged, on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia, that his government recognizes the Armenian Genocide,” said McMillan.
The Freedom Award was presented by ANC Australia Honorary Chairman, Greg Soghomonian and ANC America Chairman, Raffi Hamparian.
The Armenian National Committee Freedom award is presented to an individual or organization that has championed human rights, including but not limited to the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
ANC Australia Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian congratulated McMillan and the Uniting Church in Australia.
“The Uniting Church in Australia has provided leadership on behalf of Armenians who suffered during the genocide all the way from 1915 to today, from their relief efforts to their 2015 motion, and there could be no more worthy recipient of this honor,” said Kahramanian.
The Freedom Award was one of several honors handed out at the ANC Australia Annual Banquet.
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (NKR) to Australia, Kaylar Michaelian presented “Gratitude Medals” on behalf of the President of NKR, Bako Sahakyan to a group of Australian politicians who have visited or represented the rights to self-determination for the Armenians of Artsakh.