Armenian Church Youth Organization of America
The Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) is the official youth group of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. Its name in Armenian is "Hayastanyats Yegeghetsvo Yeridasartats Gazmagerboutiun Amerigayi." It was founded in 1946 by Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of America, 1944-1954. There have been many formulations of the purposes and aims of ACYOA, but the ACYOA Constitution lays out four aims: to propagate the Armenian Orthodox Christian faith among the youth of the Church, to promote the appreciation of Armenian culture, to strengthen the Armenian community, and to promote among its members loyalty to the United States Constitution. Another formulation of the ACYOA's purpose is the "Five Circles of the Cross": Worship, Education, Service, Fellowship, and Witness.
(The clause about the "US Constitution" is intended to promote the concept that Armenian Christians should be loyal citizens of whatever country they reside in. For the ACYOA's sister organization in Canada, the clause is changed to read "Constitution of Canada".)
The Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA), the national youth program of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, was created on January 12, 1946 in Providence, Rhode Island. The Diocesan-wide national organization, created for the youth of the Armenian Church, emerged from the foundation of the then many local Junior Leagues and clubs that were formed for the young people of the parishes of the Armenian Church.
World War II interrupted the activities of these local groups, many of which were simply inactive during those difficult years. With the termination of the war, a renewed necessity took place of reorganizing the local parish youth groups. Bishop Tiran Nersoyan, the newly-elected Diocesan Primate, wholeheartedly took on the challenge of a problem which was causing the elders of the communities to question the future of the Armenian Church in America. This challenge was carried by Bishop Tiran to the American-Armenian youth. To all communities, he passed on the informing spark, so important to the creation and continuation of activities for this new organization. The culmination of all this activity and work took place at the "Constitutive Assembly" of Armenian Church youth, held in Providence, Rhode Island, on January 12, 1946.