Centennial Reflections

On the eve of the 100th centennial of  AMAA and as we celebrate its accomplishments, we pay tribute to the founders who had the vision and the courage in establishing a Christian humanitarian organization who has stayed true to its ideals for a century marked with success. AMAA has been an organization serving all Armenians in need of education, humanitarian services, and establishing churches and institutions in a diverse community.

Today we salute AMAA for its continued success with newer challenges for generations to come with God’s blessings.

– Elizabeth and Mihran Agbabian

The joy on the beaming faces of Armenian children, the students at the AMAA Avedisian School and Community Center, bespeak the confluence of AMAA’s Mission with those most disadvantaged and in greatest need. This intervention traces its roots to the time when Armenian orphans were separated from their parents and siblings by the Genocide, when churches were destroyed, and our faith was tested. Our thoughts and prayers are with the martyred many, and in all places around the world where the AMAA has provided hope and support, continuing this legacy today. We congratulate the AMAA on 100 years of exemplary work, fulfilling God’s mandate for each of us, to wholeheartedly serve others. 

– Judge Alice and Ronald Altoon

We praise God and give Him all the glory for the work and accomplishments that the AMAA has, is, and will continue to do in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. During its 100 years, many lay leaders and pastors gave their time and energy in serving our Armenian people through spiritual, educational, and humanitarian work while keeping the goal the same ~ honoring God. May the Lord bless those who have served, and bless the memory of those who are no longer with us. May He grant wisdom to the current servants, as He prepares more faithful servants for the future. It is a joyous occasion to not only reflect on what God has done through AMAA, but anxiously look forward for the things that He will do in the next 100 years.

– Rev. Dr. Ara Chakerian

AMAA has touched many lives throughout its history of 100 years, by helping thousands of students get scholarships, helping establish churches all over the world, helping Armenians in our motherland relearn about their Christian identity, establishing social service centers, children’s summer camps, helping war torn Syrian Armenians, establishing and supporting the only Armenian University in the diaspora, namely, Haigazian University in Beirut, etc, etc. 

God bless the AMAA, and may it celebrate its 200th anniversary after the passing of our generation.

– Berjouhy Gulesserian

The calling of the AMAA is clear; it knows from where it came and to where it is going.  Long ago, it surrendered to a mission of love.  With grateful hearts, the AMAA community awakens each day to strive to bring pieces of heaven to earth through loving acts too numerous to count. The first AMAA century was one of deep faith and devotion that remained steadfast, even during the darkest hours.  The second AMAA century will be one of hope and rebirth as the fruits of the spirit manifest and flourish, even when confronted by cynicism.  And every day, AMAA strives so that the love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (I Corinthians 13:7)” will be realized in word and deed.  AMAA is a vessel through which anyone can volunteer and support the acts of kindness. It has been written “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26).”  I am grateful to the AMAA for providing a conduit through which we can all manifest our faith.

– Susan Jerian, M.D.

 My earliest awareness of the AMAA was when I was a young child.  I remember the first time that Reverent Puzant Kalfayan came to our home for a visit.  I was about eight years old.  I recall him coming on behalf of the AMAA and requesting my parents’ financial support.  His sincerity and conviction made an indelible impression on me.  The next situation that aroused my awareness and desire to be involved with the AMAA was a number of years ago when we had a Mission Sunday at the United Armenian Congregational Church of Los Angeles.  The emphasis of the presentation was to support child education in Armenia and the Middle East.  That plea really touched my heart and was the catalyst that encouraged me to become both physically and financially committed to the AMAA.   

– Ken Kevorkian

One hundred years of unwavering service in 24 countries! How amazing is AMAA’S feat! How amazing was and is the devotion of all the selfless men and women of this organization ,and its supporters worldwide , who never , ever ,strayed from Jesus’ Great Commission to preach the Gospel and to care for “one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine ” Matthew 25:40 .

What a privilege and blessing it has been to be a part of this ongoing effort!

– Michele Simourian

My sister Louise and I spent teen years in our Philibosian home, welcoming Armenians throughout the world.  Doors were particularly opened for the many devoted leaders of AMAA. Our parents became irresistibly drawn to their praiseworthy mission, and established AMAA’s first endowment fund. That fulfilled vision has supported AMAA’s amazing outreach for seven decades: may it continue to bless in the decades to come!

– Joyce Stein on behalf of the Philibosian Family

After receiving a scholarship from AMAA I went to Haigazian with the intention of receiving a higher level of education, yet little did I know at the time my attendance at the University would set the path for my entire life to follow. There I met the man who would become my husband, Hagop Terjimanian. We both shared such an appreciation for education that we eventually became educators ourselves. The friendship at Haigazian blossomed and that garden flourished from Lebanon to the States; from our youth to Hagop’s passing. After exchanging our vows, we birthed two beautiful boys who both also embraced a love of education. Haigazian for me, just as with Armenian culture, means love, life, and family. All of the above happened because of the scholarships we received from AMAA. AMAA not only shaped our lives but the lives of thousands of students who would otherwise be deprived of a prosperous future. I congratulate AMAA on their Centennial and support their efforts. May God bless all who work for this worthy establishment.

– Anahid K. Terjimanian

The AMAA receives our support because they operate in a transparent fashion and stay true to their mission, which includes delivering aid to the needy, providing education to children, and creating places of worship designed to spread the message of Christianity to so many corners of the world.  This type of work is exactly what makes us proud Armenians. 

– Andy and Hayde Torosyan

Our Evangelical Forbearers in Worcester, MA

Most of us know that the Armenian Missionary Association of America was founded in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts in 1918. What we may not know is the rest of the story. Namely, how did those Armenians get to a place where they had the wherewithal to take such a step? To answer that question, it is helpful to know a little of the history of our evangelical forbearers in Worcester.

The Armenian Evangelical community traces its origins in Worcester to prayer meetings held in 1881. There were Protestant services held on Sundays at the Summer Street Chapel. As early as 1889, the Worcester City Missionary Society saw that they had a duty to help the Armenian community and they assigned Rev. Milan Hitchcock to provide pastoral work among the Armenians. He had lived in Constantinople as a missionary, knew Armenian history and spoke the language fluently.

Under Rev. Hitchcock, the church was organized and recognized on January l, 1892 as the Armenian Evangelical Church (today known as the Armenian Church of the Martyrs). By 1896, Rev. Khachadour Benneyan was called and with his leadership, the congregation flourished and plans were made to build a new church. On May 30, 1901, there was a ground­breaking ceremony with Dr. John Berry, supporter and president of the City Missionary Society, presiding. The building is still in use in Worcester today.

Rev. Benneyan left the pulpit in 1904, having organized the Christian Endeavor Youth Society in 1900 and the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America in 1902. He was followed by Rev. Garabed Manavian, an 1884 graduate of Euphrates College, who remained in the pulpit until 1918, the year the Armenian Missionary Association of America was founded.

So it can be seen that the AMAA, founded in response to the dire condition of our people in the Near East, was an outgrowth, in great part, of the supportive American and the Armenian communities in Worcester in the period prior to the Genocide.

– Joseph Zeronian, Ed .D. (AMAA President 2013-2015)

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