Rev. Mihran T. Kalaidjian
Executive Secretary 1919-1921
Rev. Mihran T. Kalaidjian was born in Everek, Turkey in 1881. He studied at Tarsus St. Paul’s College and in 1902, came to the United States, like many others, through Ellis Island. He attended Yale College and Yale Divinity School, graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. From 1908-1912, he was a minister in Nyack, NY, while taking courses at the Union Theological Seminary of New York.
While serving an American Church, Rev. Kalaidjian did not forget his Armenian compatriots. As soon as the Armenian Evangelical Community of Troy, NY invited him to be their minister, he accepted the call. Through his efforts the Armenian Calvary Congregational Church of Troy was established and a large sanctuary was built for this growing parish. In 1918, when the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) was founded, Rev. Kalaidjian gave up his happy ministry in Troy and did marvelous inspirational work in dual capacity, as a mission Pastor at large and as the first Executive Secretary of the AMAA, serving from 1919-1921.
Rev. Kalaidjian passed away in New York in 1955, after 50 years of dedicated Christian ministry.
Rev. Antranig A. Bedikian
Executive Secretary 1921-1928, 1929-1930, 1943-1946
Rev. Antranig A. Bedikian, the first child of Rev. Arakel Bedikian, was born in Bardizag, Turkey in 1885. After graduating from Bardizag Secondary School, he attended Roberts College and received his BA degree in 1908. From 1912-1915, he studied theology and sociology at the Chicago University and received his Bachelor of Philosophy, MA and Bachelor of Divinity degrees. Due to the political situation, he couldn’t return to Turkey as he had planned.
The Armenian Evangelical Church of New York invited Rev. Bedikian to be its Pastor. He was ordained there on June 17, 1915 and served the Church for 38 years (1915-1953).
Rev. Bedikian played a key role in the founding of the Armenian Missionary Association of America in 1918. For almost a quarter of a century, he served as the Executive Secretary of the Association, always non-compensatory, filling the unfulfilled years of executives almost automatically.
Rev. Bedikian married Marie Caroline Bashian in 1919 and they were blessed with a daughter, Gloria (Ayvazian). He passed away in New Jersey in 1980.
Rev. Manasseh G. Papazian
Executive Secretary 1928-1929
Rev. Manasseh G. Papazian, son of Rev. Garabed Papazian and the grandson of Armenian Apostolic priest Fr. Margos Papazian, was born in Berejik, Cilicia in 1865. He received his college education at the newly founded Central Turkey College of Aintab and in 1886 came to the United States and continued his education at Yale Divinity School in Connecticut. He later did graduate work at Andover School of Theology in Boston, while ministering the Congregational Church of Rowley, MA, where he was ordained in 1892.
In the summer of 1892, he returned to Aintab and became the Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Hayek. In 1908, Rev. Papazian returned to the United States due to his wife’s health condition and assumed the pastorate of the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York until 1914. He then moved to Fresno, CA and became Minister of the Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church. In 1928, the Church granted him a year’s leave of absence to be the Executive Secretary of the AMAA, where he served for one year, visiting the Armenian Churches encouraging missionary zeal and raising funds.
In 1940, Rev. Papazian retired after an active and dedicated ministry of 60 years. He passed away in Fresno, CA on July 11, 1943.
Rev. Dr. Yervant H. Hadidian
Exectuive Secretary 1930-1934
Rev. Dr. Yervant H. Hadidian was born in Aintab, Turkey in 1895. After graduating from Central Turkey College he came to the United States in 1920 and continued his education at Hartford Theological Seminary, where he taught after completing his doctoral work. In 1938, he was ordained to Christian ministry after serving as a lay minister for 12 years.
From 1930-1934, Rev. Dr. Hadidian assumed the position of Executive Secretary of the AMAA. One of his contributions was the establishment of the Joint AMAA/American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions Committee. Together with this Board the needs of the mission in the Middle East were reviewed and allocations were made accordingly.
Rev. Dr. Hadidian also served as Pastor of the Cilician Armenian Memorial Church in Watertown, MA for 14 years and as the Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union of Eastern States for several terms.
In 1952, he married Rose Bakerjian and assumed the role of a father to her daughter, Dorothy. In 1963, he retired in Los Gatos, CA, where he passed away on October 9, 1977.
Rev. Nishan Begian
Executive Secretary 1935-1943
Rev. Nishan Begian was born in 1887 in a small village near Shabin Karahisar. He lost his father when he was 14. The American Missionaries helped him continue his high school education at the American Missions High School in Sepastia. After graduating, he taught in the same school for three years, and then went to Euphrates College in Kharpert to continue his education. After graduation he went back to Sepastia and became a teacher of Armenian language and music. He taught for three years, at which time he also became a lay preacher, and a leader of the Christian Endeavor Society.
After World War I, he went to Switzerland to continue his education and specialize particularly in musical science. In late 1918, he returned to Sepastia and assumed the supervision of the high school and the local Armenian orphanages.
He married Varsenig Soghigian in 1920 and they moved to Greece to supervise the Armenian orphanages. In 1935, he received an invitation from the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York and the AMAA to assume dual posts – as Assistant Pastor of the Church and Executive Secretary of the AMAA, serving from 1935 until his death in 1943.
Rev. Puzant H. Kalfayan
Executive Secretary 1946-1959
Rev. Puzant H. Kalfayan was born in Aintab, Turkey in 1913. The family moved to Aleppo in 1920. Following his graduation from Aleppo College, he served in Kaladouran, a village in the Kessab area, as a teacher-preacher from 1932-1935. In 1935, he came to Beirut and attended the Near East School of Theology and the American University graduating from the Seminary with a Diploma in Theology and a BA degree from the University. From 1939-1945 he served as the General Secretary of the Christian Endeavor Union of Syria and Lebanon. With his dedication, love and exceptional personality he gained the full respect and affection of the youth, and played a providential role within the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Middle East.
Rev. Kalfayan came to the United States in 1946 to assume the position of Executive Secretary of the AMAA. With his knowledge, dedication and passion he was loved and respected by all and within a short time the revenues of AMAA doubled, enabling bigger budgets and new projects, one of which was the founding of Haigazian College.
He passed away in 1959 at the age of 45. He was married to Anjele Kalfayan and they were blessed with two daughters, Stephanie and Denise.
Rev. Edward S. Tovmassian
Executive Secretary 1959-1968
Rev. Edward S. Tovmassian was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1912. After his high school education he entered the American University of Beirut and graduated with a BA and later the Near East School of Theology and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. From 1938-1946, he served churches in Aleppo, Kessab and Beirut and as Principal of the Armenian Evangelical Central High School in Eshrefieh, Beirut.
He moved to the United States in 1946 and served as the Pastor of the Armenian Congregational Church of Detroit for 13 years. In May 1959, Rev. Tovmassian was unanimously invited to be the Executive Secretary of the AMAA. He served for nine years before retiring in 1968 following a heart attack. During his years at the AMAA, some of the Association’s programs made tremendous progress. He was instrumental in the founding of the Youth Home of Istanbul.
After retiring from the AMAA he served a few small churches on the East Coast and then moved to California and served the United Armenian Congregational Church of Los Angeles and later the Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church of Downey.
He passed away on April 28, 1986. He was married to Arousiag and they were blessed with four children, Harry, Doreen, Edward and Ron.
Steven Y. Mardiguian
Acting Executive Secretary 1968
Steven Y. Mardiguian was born in Constantinople, Turkey in 1909. In 1914, the family moved to Chicago, IL where he attended public schools. They returned to Constantinople at war’s end. Steve attended Roberts College and earned a BS in business administration. He also did graduate work at the University of Istanbul. After serving the Turkish Army for 18 months, he came back to the United States to join his family who had arrived earlier. Steve joined the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York and became deeply involved in the life of the Church. He served the US Army during World War II and, following his discharge, returned to his position as Manager of the Scott Stamp and Coin Company’s Fulton Street Branch.
Steve joined the AMAA serving as office manager and then became the Acting Executive Secretary from September 11, 1968 to December 11, 1968, holding the “fort” while a search was made for a permanent Executive Secretary. Within that short period of time, there was gradual but steady growth of funds, making possible additional projects and services.
Steve was married to Armine Moroukian and they were blessed with two sons. Steve passed away on February 16, 1988.
Rev. Dr. Giragos H. Chopourian
Executive Director 1969-1987
Rev. Dr. Giragos H. Chopourian was born in Adana, Cilicia in 1914. Following the Armenian Genocide, the family came to Larnaca, Cyprus as refugees. His early education was at American Academy. For his undergraduate studies he attended the American University of Beirut (AUB), graduating in 1945 with a BA in History. He graduated from the Near East School of Theology, (NEST) in 1946 with a BA in Religious Education.
Rev. Chopourian came to the United States in 1955. He served the Armenian Congregational churches in both Haverhill, MA, and Lawrence, NH, while attending Andover Newton Theological Seminary for an MA, and then Harvard University’s doctoral program. In 1958, he became Pastor of the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church in Havertown, PA. He continued his Doctoral Program at Temple University and received his Ph.D. in Church History in 1971.
In 1969 he accepted the position as AMAA’s Executive Director. During his tenure, the Association experienced significant growth both nationally and internationally. In 1987 he retired from his position at the AMAA to Havertown, PA, where he continued reading, writing, preaching and enjoying time with his family.
Rev. Chopourian was married to Yeprouhie DerBoghossian. They are survived by three daughters, Eileen, Vera and Victoria, 7 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. He passed away on October 11, 2006.
Rev. Dr. Movses B. Janbazian
Executive Director 1987-2000
Rev. Dr. Movses B. Janbazian was born in Anjar in 1945. He received his early education at the local Armenian Evangelical School. In 1968 he received his BA degree in History from Haigazian College and in 1971 a Master of Christian Education from the Near East School of Theology, both in Beirut.
After serving for two years as the founding Director of the current Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center in Trad (Beirut), Lebanon, he received a call from the Armenian Evangelical Church of Sao Paulo, Brazil to serve as their missionary Pastor. In 1980 he was called by the AMAA to serve first as Field Director and in 1987 he was appointed as the Executive Director of the Association. During his tenure, AMAA has grown both financially and numerically. Soon after the catastrophic Earthquake in Armenia, Rev. Janbazian played an important role in establishing mission work in Armenia. Through his vision and efforts he made the critical needs of Armenia an overriding concern of the Association. In recognition of his contribution and service to the Armenian Evangelical Church and Community, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor’s Degree by Haigazian University.
Rev. Janbazian was married to Louisa and they were blessed with two children, Vahak and Ani. He passed away on September 25, 2000 at the age of fifty-five.
Executive Director 2001, 2003, 2004-09
A New Yorker by birth, Andrew Torigian earned a BA degree in Psychology and a BS degree in Engineering both from New York University. During World War II, Andy was a fighter pilot in the US Navy Air Corps, serving two years on active duty and six years in the US Navy Air Corps Reserve.
Andy has been an integral part of the AMAA since he was appointed to the Investment Committee 45 years ago. He became a member of the Board, Treasurer, Vice President for four years, and President for nine years and served as the Executive Director for eight years. As Executive Director, Andy negotiated the purchase of the former US Embassy building in Yerevan to be the AMAA’s headquarters in Armenia. In two years, he raised $11,500,000 for the AMAA’s Capital Campaign. From 2006 to the present day, Andy has held the post of President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Home for the Aged in Emerson, NJ. He is a member of the Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus, NJ.
Andy has been married to Rose for 47 years and they have been blessed with three children, Catherine, a Ph.D., Drew and Christine, both M.D.s, and three grandchildren.
Rev. Jirair M. Sogomian
Executive Director 2001-2003
Rev. Jirair M. Sogomian was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1937. He received his early education in Cairo and later studied at Haigazian College and transferred to the American University of Beirut and the Near East School of Theology. Receiving his BA at Milligan College of Tennessee in 1963, he continued his theological studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 1965. His ministries within the Armenian Evangelical Union include the congregational churches of Troy, NY (where he was ordained); Southfield, MI; Downey, CA and Havertown, MA. He was also Pastor of non-Armenian parishes in South Windsor, CT and in Simi Valley, CA. In 1975, during the civil war in Beirut, Lebanon, he was Chaplain and Professor of Religion at Haigazian College for one year.
He was appointed Executive Director of the AMAA in 2001 and served until 2003. Later he moved to California and once again became Pastor of the Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church where he served until 2011.
Multi-lingual and known for his exceptional ability to preach and teach the Gospel of Christ, Rev. Sogomian is equally recognized for goal-oriented administrative skills and organizational leadership. He is married to Lorraine and they have five children.
Rev. Dr. Peter Doghramji
Executive Director 2004
Rev. Dr. Peter B. Doghramji was born in 1929, in Aleppo, Syria, where he received his early education. He is a graduate of Near East School of Theology (NEST), American University of Beirut (BA), Harvard University Divinity School (Master of Theology), Princeton University and Theological Seminary (Ph.D.) and Ursinus College (Doctor of Divinity).
He has served the parish in Hassakeh, Syria; Aleppo College first as a teacher and later as the first national President; the NEST; the Armenian Martyr’s Congregational Church of Havertown, PA; Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ as Assistant to the Conference Minister and later as Minister of the Conference for six years; Interim Pastor of Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church of Downey, CA for two years; Senior Pastor of the United Armenian Congregational Church in Hollywood, CA; and Interim Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York. In 2004, Rev. Doghramji was appointed Executive Director of the AMAA where he served for one year. Rev. Doghramji has also held offices at the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America as its first Executive Secretary and later as Moderator.
He and his wife Marie reside in Havertown, PA, and they have three sons Karl, Paul and James and seven grandchildren.
Executive Director 2010-2014
Levon Filian was born in Anjar to refugees from Musa Dagh. He was raised as a Christian and educated under the care of Swiss and German missionaries.
With help from the AMAA he pursued his education at Haigazian College and Near East School of Theology, in Lebanon. He furthered his studies at California State Universities where he received Masters Degrees in School Administration and Counseling.
He has been an active member of several Armenian Evangelical Churches. He has served in the fields of Real Estate and Education. Since 2010 he has served the AMAA in its world wide ministries.
Levon is married to Liliana and is the father of four sons, Mher, Armen, AriJon and David.
Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian
Interim Executive Director/CEO 2014
Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1954. He received his early education in Aleppo and later studied at Haigazian College, where he received his BA degree in Armenian Literature and the Near East School of Theology, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree.
He has served as Youth Director of the Armenian Evangelical Churches of Syria (1984-1989), Pastor of the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Montreal, Canada (1989-1995), Associate Pastor of Parish Development of the United Armenian Congregational Church of Los Angeles, CA (1995-2003) and Senior Pastor of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno, CA (2003-2012).
Since 2012, Rev. Melkonian has served as Senior Pastor and Pastor to Pastors of the Evangelical Churches of Armenia as well as Field Director of AMAA. From 2013-2014, he also served the AMAA as its Interim Executive Director/CEO. Within his ministries in the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA) and AMAA, he has served on several committees and as Moderator of the AEUNA twice (2002-2004 and 2010-2012).
Rev. Melkonian is married to Houry Aposhian and they have three daughters and three grandchildren.
Executive Director 2014 Sept. – Present
Zaven Khanjian was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. He grew up in the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church and was an active member of its youth group.
After his graduation from Aleppo College, he attended the American University of Beirut, Lebanon and in 1967 earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Soon after his graduation he moved to the Persian Gulf and for 13 years worked in his profession.
In 1979, Mr. Khanjian moved with his family to California and after working for a few years in his profession, went into the real estate business starting his own successful company, Kanjyan Realty.
Over the years, Mr. Khanjian has been an active member of the Greater Los Angeles Community serving in leadership capacities at the Armenia Fund, The Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, The Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School, The United Armenian Congregational Church, Haigazian University of Beirut, the Glendale Family YMCA, The Salvation Army-Glendale Corps, Americans for Artsakh, The Armenian American Real Estate Association and lately as the Chairman of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund.
Mr. Khanjian has contributed volumes of bilingual articles to American Armenian media and is the author of three Armenian books.
Mr. Khanjian is married to Sona Kelligian and is the father of three children, Vasken, Hrag and Vana, and grandfather of five boys.