Armenians to commemorate genocide at Solvang church

The Friends of Maria Jacobsen Committee has organized a special memorial service Sunday, May 14, at a Solvang church to commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide,  Santa Ynez Valley News reports.

The ceremony following the 11 a.m. worship service will be held in the courtyard of Bethania Lutheran Church at 603 Atterdag Road, a committee spokesman said.

Representatives of the Southern California Armenian community will lay a wreath in honor and memory of 1.5 million Armenian martyrs as well as Danish humanitarian and missionary Maria Jacobsen (1882-1960).

 Jacobsen dedicated virtually her entire life to serving orphaned Armenian children, both in the Ottoman Empire and in Lebanon, and was a witness to the Armenian Genocide, the spokesman said.

“We are honoring Maria Jacobsen’s memory on Mother’s Day,” said Dr. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan, chairman of the committee. “She is known as the beloved ‘Mama’ by her grateful former orphan children.”

Der-Yeghiayan said at the conclusion of the memorial ceremony, the committee will announce a student essay contest in Jacobsen’s honor.

The contest will be open to all high school students living in Solvang and all students attending Armenian, public or private high schools in Southern California, he said.

The essay theme is: “In the more than 100 years that have passed since the first genocide of the 20th century — the Armenian Genocide of bigotry, prejudice, intolerance, persecution, deportations and heinous plans to annihilate a nation — what do you believe your generation can do to make ‘never again’ a reality?”

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