By Mira Yardemian, HU Public Relations Director
On Saturday, May 26, 2018, Haigazian University conferred 121 undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University’s 58th Commencement exercises, amidst an atmosphere of joyfulness, pride and ovation, sometimes mixed with moments of high emotion.
Minister of Tourism Avedis Guidanian represented both the President of the Republic Gen. Michel Aoun and the President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri. Member of Parliament Hagop Pakradounian represented the Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berry. Among the attendees were MP Rev. Edgar Traboulsi, MP Gen. Jean Talouzian representing the Lebanese Forces Political Party, the Armenian Ambassador to Lebanon Samvel Mkrdchyan, the representative of the Commander of the Lebanese Army, the President of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community of Syria and Lebanon, Rev. Salim Sahyouni, Prelate of the Armenians in Lebanon, Bishop Shahe Panosian, Prelate of the Armenian Catholic Patriarchy, Bishop George Assadourian, President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria Rev. Haroutune Selimian, the Head of the Lebanese Press Union Elias Aoun and the Mayor of Bourj Hammoud Mardig Boghossian. The guests also included the Chair of the Haigazian University Board of Trustees Dr. Hasmig Baran coming from the USA, members of the Board, representatives of Armenian and Lebanese political parties, community leaders, representatives of educational institutions, parents, relatives and friends.
The auspicious ceremony began with the celebratory processional march by faculty and graduates on the notes of the traditional Pomp and Circumstance, followed by the Lebanese National Anthem and the Prayer of Invocation offered by Campus Minister Rev. Wilbert Van Saane.
Expressing his pride in the graduating class, University President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian acknowledged the unwavering efforts and dedication of the parents, asking the audience to give them a hearty applause.
In his address, Rev. Dr. Haidostian tackled the notion of “virtue” in shaping characters and identities. He focused his talk on “respect” as a much-needed virtue and a key for success that transcends all times and eras. “No matter in what era we live, remember that respect is what I need from myself for myself, what those around me need from me without discrimination,” Rev. Dr. Haidostian noted. In a society where, unfortunately, respect is displayed mainly to the strong, he emphasized the importance to always “remember your Creator, remember His creatures, remember your families, and communities and country, remember that those stronger than you are in need of your respect equally with those who are weaker than yourselves.”
In his inspiring keynote speech, Director of the Armenian Studies Program at California State University, Haigazian University Trustee and an Alumnus of 1973, Prof. Vahram Shemmassian addressed the graduating class by asking questions for them to consider and introduced creative and constructive ideas for them to think about. These questions included “Can you be a game changer? Can you criticize yourself in the strictest manner? Can you surround yourself with capable and powerful people without the fear of losing your status?”
Prof. Shemmassian suggested that the graduates always keep a positive balance in life, namely in finding an adequate balance in the use of technology and globalization matters. “The sooner you regain your independence from excessive use of technology, the quicker the freedom to imagine and create again will revisit you,” he noted.
“Be the latest design that suits and beautifies all shapes of humanity – tasteful, colorful, radiant, attractive, original, imaginative, ingenious…” Vahram Shemmassian, Ph.D.
He also invited the students to be change makers, unique, and mostly grateful. In this respect he said, “Life can never be miserable if you discipline yourselves to see the brighter side of things and the advantages that you have. Be the latest design that suits and beautifies all shapes of humanity–tasteful, colorful, radiant, attractive, original, imaginative, and ingenious.”
Prof. Shemmassian concluded his address with very precious advice, saying, “if you have accumulated a number of credits just to obtain a degree, then you have not learned much. But if you consider those units as stored seeds with which to feed the hungry, assist the less fortunate, give hope to the dislocated and the homeless, elevate peoples’ self-esteem, and or ennoble mankind in general, then you and a true education have embraced each other inextricably.”
The graduates then were called to collect their diplomas from the University President, assisted by Deans Fadi Asrawi and Arda Ekmekji.
With a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, valedictory Hagop Karamian and Suzanna Saadeddine thanked the parents, University faculty and staff, giving them the credit for shaping and equipping the graduates with all the necessary education and skills to embark on their new phase of life.
Speaking to their peers, Mr. Karamian assured his fellow graduates that “they have epitomized the model character of a Haigazian University learner,” inviting them to “celebrate our academic milestone, but also, the idea that we are beacons of hope and catalysts of change in society.” Ms. Saadeddine pointed out the importance of being grateful and serving the community and ultimately “our dear country Lebanon, as it is the most in need of our knowledge, ethics and expertise.”
After singing the Alma Mater, and upon the Benediction offered by the President of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East Rev. Mgrdich Karageozian, with loud cheers graduates threw their caps high into the air, joyfully marking the end of a four-year journey and confidently anticipating the commencement of a new beginning.
Ministry of Love and Service
Led by Dr. Al and Sue Phillips, the AMAA Medical Mission team is in the final stages of preparing for their 10th annual trip to Armenia.
This year, in cooperation with the Evangelical Church of Armenia, two teams made up of Armenian and non-Armenian speaking doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and support staff, will travel to AMAA Mission Centers in the North and South of Armenia: Vanadzor, Stepanavan and Sisian.
Patients hear of the arrival of the Medical Mission team weeks earlier via various forms of media. Last year approximately 850 patients were bused in from the local villages and the dentists treated 250 patients. Each patient passes through the clinic to have his/her vital signs collected and urine testing completed. If necessary, EKGs are performed. From there, patients are interviewed by nurses and medical students in triage and then examined by the team of physicians. Prescriptions are given for a variety of conditions, primarily hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Patients are counseled on their medications by the pharmacists and given enough for one year.
The mission of this ministry is “To share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by serving the physical needs of our Armenian brothers and sisters. With the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are called to serve those in need of God’s love through medical service, health education, and the preaching of the Gospel.”
The Mission Trip is a combination of work and fun. When not working in the clinic, the team tours important sites around Armenia. After spending so much time and working closely together, the team becomes like a new family.
Pray for their service and dedication as they share Christ’s love through their work. Stay connected with their blog when the trip commences.
For more information click here to visit the Medical Mission page.
Our witness in the Diaspora is growing, and our visibility is increasing. We rejoice in bearing witness to the truth of the gospel, and we thank God for the life given to us through our Savior Jesus Christ.
We will reflect on this and Revival Through Missions at the 24th Biennial Assembly of the AEUNA, in Burbank, California, June 28-July 1, 2018. Delegates and attendees will be learning how our Union is making the witness of Armenian Evangelicals worldwide more visible in many diaspora activities. A wonderful program is planned around our theme for the Assembly.
Program and keynote banquet speaker is acclaimed author/theologian Dr. J.P. Moreland. Our purpose is exactly this: Revival Through Missions. We invite you to help make this event a blessing to all and a call to action!
Your participation will further encourage those attending from our churches and fellowships, those attending from Armenian Evangelical churches in South America, and those visiting us possibly for the first time. A commemorative booklet is being prepared for this event, and we invite you to be a sponsor.
To be a banquet sponsor click here to download form
To register for the 2018 Biennial Convention click here to download application
Registration and payment is also made available online at www.aeuna2018.com
It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news of the passing of Rev. Dr. Ara Jizmejian, Eastern Region Minister to Youth for the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, early Thursday morning, April 12, 2018.
We offer our condolences to his wife Sylvia; his children, Garen, Cedric and Ara Junior; his parents Mihran and Vartoug Jizmejian, all his pastoral colleagues, the AEYF Eastern Region youth, Camp AREVELK and Camp AREV communities, and all others he ministered to. Below are excerpts from the communique received from the AEUNA:
We are deeply comforted by the reality that he is now free of the restriction of the physical body, which has been raised in incorruption and glory, in the sanctuary of God not made with human hands, for those who love the Lord and serve him faithfully. We take great comfort from our Christ-centered hope and know that we all will be united again. Rev. Ara is now experiencing Psalm 100:4, which says, “Enter his gates with Thanksgiving.”
Rev. Ara received his call to pastoral ministry while attending the Armenian Evangelical Church of Toronto, and began pastoral ministry at the First Armenian Church of Belmont. He later served at the Armenian Church of the Martyrs in Worcester.
For decades he served as the AEUNA Eastern Region Minister to Youth, and was the inspirational pastor for scores of east coast youth and a committed worker for the Lord in the Armenian Evangelical Church at large.
Rev. Jizmejian began struggling with cancer a few months ago, and throughout his illness continued ministering through online updates from his hospital bed, and witnessing to his nurses and doctors.
Rev. Ara shared with everyone his conviction: “God is glorified as we, His people, serve each other as members of one body.”
AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian and Mrs. Sona Khanjian, visited with Badveli Ara and his family on April 5th, spending their time in prayer and reflection.
May God’s grace, and the love of Jesus Christ, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, work in us and through us in the days to come.
It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news of the passing of AMAA Former Executive Director (2001-2003) Rev. Jirair Sogomian of Huntington Beach, CA. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1937 and passed away on March 11, 2018.
Memorial service on Friday, April 13, 2018 at 11:00 am
Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church
9516 Downey Avenue, Downey, CA 90240
A memorial luncheon to follow
Badveli Jirair felt the call to ministry during his youth in Egypt, ministered in the Near East, at AEUNA churches, through the AMAA, and in ecumenical missions here in the U.S.
Rev. Sogomian began his pastoral ministry at the United Armenian Calvary Congregational Church in Troy, NY, where he was ordained. He pastored the Armenian Congregational Church of Detroit for five years. During his tenure, the Church hosted the 1971 convention at which East and West Coast Unions merged and established the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA.)
In 1975, he became chaplain of Haigazian College. He returned to the U.S. and pastored Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church during the time that Church purchased its Downey property. Badveli Jirair was one of the organizing committee members of the AMAA-sponsored Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center in Hollywood.
In 1979, he accepted the challenge of ministering to a mission church of the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley, CA, bringing that congregation to self-sufficiency in three years. During those years, he helped organize several ecumenical ministries, serving the homeless, the hungry, those in need of medical care or mental health care. He became an ecumenical leader in the area, organizing conferences as well as pastoral retreats.
In 1990, he moved to Havertown, PA, to pastor the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church. During his pastorate, the Church sponsored four Armenian refugee families from Armenia and Baku, assisting them until they became well-established. During his years in the Philadelphia area, Badveli Jirair led Armenian ecumenical programs such as joint Vartanantz celebrations and Armenian Martyrs’ Day commemorations. He also worked on the AEUNA Stewardship and Theological Education Committees, and led his church to make a significant commitment to the AEUNA Theological Education Endowment Fund.
Badveli Jirair was called by the AMAA to be its Executive Director in 2001. Multi-lingual and known for his for goal-oriented administrative skills and organizational leadership, Badveli served with his position faithfully until 2003.
In 2003, Rev. Sogomian and his wife Lorraine “retired” to Huntington Beach, California, to be close to their children and grandchildren. His retirement was interrupted by a call to serve as Interim Pastor of the Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church in Downey, California, where he served for six years until his final retirement in 2011.
Badveli Jirair was a genuine, honest and compassionate servant of God. Very often, in short phrases, he delivered crucial messages. He was a great contributor and investor into the life and ministries of the AMAA and AEUNA. While his earthen vessel was getting weaker, his spirit was getting stronger.
AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian, Mrs. Sona Khanjian, Dr. Hrag Marganian and Dr. Arthur Salibian visited with Badveli Jirair on March 7th. They enjoyed singing hymns Rev. Sogomian liked and spent some time in prayer with him.
Our condolences to his wife Lorraine, their children Mark Sogomian (Daria), Sharon Mequet (Brian), Michael Deovlet (Carol), Sheri Olson (Scott), Allison Vamvas (Sterling) and grandchildren, sister Marie Galustian & Rev. Vigen Galustian and extended family and friends.
We Must Demonstrate Our Love for and Admiration of Women All Throughout the Year
Harout Nercessiann, AMAA Armenia Representative
Reflections on the Occasion of International Women’s Day
Today is March 8. It is the international Women’s Day. Women all over the world, including Armenia, are honored with nice words of praise and flowers. Husband, brothers, sons, and daughters look for ways of honoring their mothers, sisters, and wives. In Armenia, as in many other countries, March 8 is a holiday. So we all enjoy this special holiday.
We certainly can and must honor the women in our lives. AMAA Armenia employs many women. Actually most of our employees are women. I greatly appreciate their contribution to the services that we provide to children and the vulnerable. Women have skills that few men demonstrate. Their love for children and compassion for the needy is most compelling. I find women to be hardworking and dedicated to their callings. Women demonstrate these qualities very early on in life. Young girls are most mature, responsible, reliable and hardworking. I want to personally thank the women who work for the AMAA in Armenia and Artsakh.
I also want to challenge my fellow men. It is great to bring flowers and say nice things to women on March 8. Yet, I consider these to be too little. We must demonstrate our love for and admiration of women all throughout the year. Furthermore, we must love and respect women not only with words and flowers, but by deeds that realize their full potential and make women feel appreciated.Let us not forget the fact that women raise and educate our children. It is in the best interest of humanity if we educate, train, encourage, support, promote, uplift and empower women to use their talents and lead for the betterment of humanity. We will all be much better for it.
Արտահայտե՛նք մեր սերը և հիացմունքը կանանց նկատմամբ ամբողջ տարվա ընթացքում
Հարութ Ներսեսսյան, ԱՀԱԸ Հայաստանի ներկայացուցիչ
Խոկումներ Կանանց Համաշխարհային Օրուան Առիթով
Այսօր մարտի 8-ն է՝ Կանանց Միջազգային Օրը: Աշխարհի, այդ թվում՝ Հայաստանի կանայք, պատվի են արժանանում գովեստի գեղեցիկ խոսքերով և ծաղիկներով: Ամուսինները, եղբայրները, որդիներն ու դուստրերը իրենց մայրերին պատվի արժանացնելու տարբեր միջոցներ են փնտրում: Հայաստանում, ինչպես այլ երկրներում, մարտի 8-ը ոչ աշխատանքային օր է: Այսպիսով, մենք բոլորս վայելում են այս հատուկ օրը:
Մենք մեր կյանքում անշուշտ կարող ենք և պետք է պատվենք կանանց: ԱՀԱԸ Հայաստանում շատ կանայք են աշխատում: Իրականում մեր աշխատողների մեծամասնությունը կանայք են: Ես խորապես գնահատում եմ նրանց ներդրումը այն բոլոր ծառայություններում, որ մենք մատուցում ենք երեխաներին և այլ խոցելի խմբերին: Կանայք ունեն հմտություններ, որ շատ քիչ տղամարդկանց է հասու: Նրանց սերը երեխաների և գթասրտությունը կարիքավորների նկատմամբ ամենաուշագրավն է: Ես տեսնում եմ, որ կանայք աշխատասեր են և նվիրված են իրենց կոչմանը: Կանայք դրսևորում են այս որակներն արդեն իրենց կյանքի վաղ շրջանում: Երիտասարդ աղջիկները շատ հասուն են, պատասխանատու, հուսալի և աշխատասեր: Ես ցանկանում եմ անձամբ շնորհակալություն հայտնել բոլոր այն կանանց, ովքեր աշխատում են ԱՀԱԸ-ում՝ ինչպես Հայաստանում, այնպես էլ Արցախում:
Ես նաև ուզում եմ մարտահրավեր նետել մեր տղամարդկանց: Շատ հրաշալի է մարտի 8-ին ծաղիկներ նվիրել և գեղեցիկ խոսքեր ասել կանանց: Մինչդեռ ես սա շատ քիչ եմ համարում: Մենք պետք է մեր սերն և հիացմունքը արտահայտենք նրանց նկատմամբ ամբողջ տարվա ընթացքում:
Մարդկության մեծագույն շահն է, եթե մենք կրթում, վերապատրաստում, քաջալերում, աջակցում, առաջ ենք տանում, բարձրացնում, ուժեղացնում և ղեկավար պաշտոնների ենք արժանացնում կանանց՝ օգտագործելու իրենց տաղանդը և առաջնորդելու կարողությունները՝ մարդկության բարեփոխման համար: Արդյունքում մենք բոլորս ենք բարեփոխվում:
By Elise Kalfayan
The day after a gentle rain, sunshine in the crisp late afternoon lit the scene perfectly as guests arrived for Lark Musical Society’s celebration concert, “Faith and Love” at Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium, Sunday, March 4, 2018. The program featured Anton Bruckner’s tripartite Te Deum, a popular thanksgiving hymn that honors God’s work among his believers, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Chorus “Ode to Joy,” a masterpiece expressing the human longing for brotherhood and equality. It was a joyful and inspiring celebration of the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s (AMAA) 100-year legacy of mission and service.
The AMAA was founded in 1918 in Worcester, Massachusetts by the Armenian Evangelicals to send aid overseas to survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the Near East. Its work has continued and expanded since then, now providing humanitarian aid, education, youth programs, and support for churches and Christian outreach in 24 countries. AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian honored its founders and leaders in his program notes, citing Psalm 135:3 and writing, “Pleasant is the memory of the early visionaries, successive leadership and generations of unsung heroes whose gospel-illuminated path and selfless sacrifice led to miracles in the life of the nation.”
AMAA board members joined directors and staff, supporters, Lark Musical Society members and supporters, local dignitaries, and a full-house audience at the magnificent concert with the express desire to celebrate the AMAA’s work in musical tribute. Many of the guests came from local Armenian Evangelical churches, and have long-standing ties to the AMAA, and fervent appreciation for its mission. This was the final event of a busy weekend as the AMAA Board of Directors held meetings March 2-3 in the L.A. area, and five local churches hosted AMAA presentations Sunday morning.
Doris Melkonian, who holds a Master of Arts in Musicology from UCLA, delivered a pre-concert lecture. Those arriving early learned that Bruckner named his work after an ancient hymn which begins “Thee, O God, we praise” and he based its text on the Apostles’ Creed.
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is considered one of the greatest works in the Western musical tradition. Melkonian pointed out that the 1st movement starts with “the void” of the book of Genesis; while the exuberant chorus of the 4th movement celebrates joy, life, and God’s divine blessings. She concluded, “Tonight, as the contemplative music of Bruckner and Beethoven transport us upward, we join in this joyful chorus of praise and give thanks to God. We praise God for the miracles and the transformational work that have taken place through the programs initiated and sponsored by the Armenian Missionary Association of America.”
Doors to the hall opened soon afterward and almost every seat was filled as Concert Committee Chair Ken Kevorkian welcomed guests and dignitaries. Rev. Dr. Ara Chakerian, the Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America blessed the concert with an invocation.
Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, President of the AMAA Board of Directors, patron of the Lark Musical Society, and a member of the Lark Mastersingers, stepped forward to provide a stirring reflection on the founding of the Armenian Republic and the founding of the AMAA in 1918, one century ago:
“For 100 years the AMAA served Armenian communities in the Diaspora, and after the disastrous earthquake that hit Armenia in 1988, the AMAA extended its activities to the Motherland also. Today, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the formation of the AMAA, we are also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the rebirth of the Armenian nation, the rebirth of hope for a people who walked in the valley of the shadow of death, came face to face with the possibility of total annihilation, but survived.”
Maestro Vatsche Barsoumian led the Lark Orchestra, Lark Mastersingers, and musical artists Shoushik Barsoumian (Soprano), Garineh Avakian (Mezzo-soprano), Berj Karazian (Tenor), and Abdiel Gonzalez (Baritone) in a tremendous and moving musical program that exceeded even the high expectations set by the evening’s speakers. The Lark Musical Society, formed and supported by true artists, routinely excels in its beautifully curated and produced programs, and this was no exception. The performance was a wonderful achievement as well a fitting centennial tribute to the AMAA. Multiple ovations that followed the finale were well-deserved by all the outstanding artists and musicians who played in this program.
Maestro Barsoumian founded the Lark Musical Society, which includes a conservatory, musical education program for children, the Dilijan Chamber Series, and other successful musical and artistic endeavors. The first of many collaborations with the Lark Musical Society and the AMAA initiated in 1996 when the Lark Choir was invited to Paris, France to perform during the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the founding of the Armenian Evangelical Church.
In his concert notes, Maestro Barsoumian wrote that Lark has a focus on the cultural work of the Armenian people, but drew in this concert from the full canon of Western music. “This seems a fitting emulation of the truly global scale of the AMAA’s mission, with its charitable efforts rendered worldwide to communities in need, even as it maintains a focus on enriching the lives, both spiritual and physical, of Armenians wherever it can.” He concluded, “The spirit of these masterpieces is the spirit behind the good works of the Armenian Missionary Association of America. Long may they continue to serve. Long may they spread their Faith and Love.” Amen.
AMAA BOARD MEMBER, Dr. Ann R. Karagozian Sarafian, Ph.D. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering
The Armenian Missionary Association of America extends congratulations to Board Member Dr. Ann R. Karagozian Sarafian, who has the distinguished honor of being elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for her ‘”contributions to combustion and propulsion, education of future aerospace engineers, and service to the country.”
Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
The NAE is an American nonprofit, non-governmental organization; that is part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, along with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Medicine, and the National Research Council.
Dr. Karagozian Sarafian received her bachelor’s degree in engineering from UCLA, graduating summa cum laude. She received her master’s degree and doctorate from Caltech. She joined the UCLA faculty in 1982 and has advised 26 Ph.D. recipients, 53 M.S. recipients, and has supervised 13 postdoctoral scholars and visiting scientists. Bravo Dr. Karagozian!
The AMAA has the honor and pleasure of Dr. Karagozian Sarafian serving on its board since 2015. She has served various roles on AMAA committees which include: the Ethics Committee, Nominating Committee and Current Co-chair of the Armenia Committee.
The bricks have fallen down, we will rebuild with dressed stone. Isaiah 9:10 NIV
Six years of violence and fear have changed lives forever for Syrian Armenians who have remained in Syria and for those who have left. While every effort is being made to start afresh and return to normalcy, the conflict continues to take its toll in more ways than one. In the wake of such calamity the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s (AMAA) relief efforts to Syria remain strong.
Reconstruction is evident in Aleppo, as the streets connecting one ravaged community after another are being repaired. The flow of commerce is beginning to appear on the streets. Rubble from destroyed buildings is beginning to be cleared. Financial burdens on individuals remain high. Lack of normal flow of tap water and power are still in crisis mode. The cost of returning to and repairing one’s home lies on the individual.
Our communities in Syria painfully suffered and endured. They are resilient and ready to bounce back. Your generous gift will help shore them up, rebuild the Church and their lives. Thank you for your support.
AMAA’s commitment includes, but is not limited to, helping (re)build the Armenian communities, keeping schools open, rejuvenating shops and businesses, and providing access to healthcare, food and basic provisions. We want to empower our brothers and sisters to continue rising above and help keep their faith and hope alive. AMAA also continues to provide a LifeLine and new opportunities for those who seek to leave and begin anew in the Homeland -Armenia.
We have not forgotten the destruction of the Emmanuel Church of Aleppo, nor the faithful who continue to gather to worship our Lord.
The Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE), the Community leadership and the Church are ready to rebuild that House of Worship.
“My home is in heaven I’m just traveling through this world.” -Billy Graham
Praise the Lord for the life of a humble servant of God who touched the lives of millions in his lifetime and led them to the Savior.
Today, we remember and celebrate the life of Rev. Billy Graham. Regarded as the most influential preacher of the 20th century, he carried the Gospel to every corner of this world. We remain grateful for his life here on Earth.
“May his memory inspire Christians around the world to fire up their faith, follow the lead of the Great Preacher, take the Good News to the ends of the world and bring the human race closer to the Creator.” -Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO
The AMAA extends condolences to the entire Graham family, AMAA Centennial Honorary Committee Member Rev. Franklin Graham, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Samaritan’s Purse for their loss.
To read more on the life of Billy Graham on the link to be directed to the Billy Graham Memorial Site
The Heroism of Vartanantz
By Rev. Dr. Ara Chakerian
As a young boy, I had heard of Vartan Mamigonian’s story of heroism. Many nations have their heroes, and I believed Mamigonian was our Armenian hero. As I grew older and studied his life in more detail, I found out he was but just an ordinary man, who did not possess any super-powers or mighty abilities. He was a regular man who had fears, failures, and he also bled like any human being. Yes, what made him different was his faith, his courage, and his resolve.
His unshakeable faith in God and Savior Jesus Christ.
His courage to be faithful in his call by defending his nation.
His resolve in giving his best for what he believed.
A new year has come upon us, and once again on February 8, 2018 the day of Vartanantz reminds us of this great warrior. How he gave his best to His Lord and nation. He gave his will, his sword, and his life. In short, Mamigonian gave his all.
May we not only be proud of his ever-inspiring stories, but may the Lord grant us the same Spirit to guide us in giving our best for our Lord, and our people. It makes no difference whether we work in a factory, or in an office, or on the field; Vartan Mamigonian’s legacy calls all believers (Armenians and non-Armenians alike) to serve God and give our best in what we do. For this is rooted upon the first and greatest commandment that our Lord Jesus said,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)
Vartanantz, February 8, 2018
Բռնութեան Տակ, Ազատ՝
Ազատութեան մէջ, Ստրո՞ւկ
«Վասնզի ես ամօթ չեմ սեպեր Աւետարանը։» (Հռովմ. 1. 16)
The Highest League of Chess Championship of Armenia for 2018 just came to an end. By the results of the tournament, for the second year in a row, Woman International Master (WIM) Siranush Ghukasyan, an AMAA sponsored child won the title of vice-champion of Armenia.
We congratulate Siranush on her successful performance and for the honorable prize of Armenian women’s silver medal awarded to her. We are convinced that the best victories are still ahead.
“We will be glad to see Siranush Ghukasyan in Armenia National Team, as the junior chess player with her performance in two consecutive years, proves that she deserves a place on the National Team squad,” says Haymedia.am.
Every year, The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), in collaboration with the Evangelical Church of Armenia, organizes Christmas celebrations for about 10,000 children living in Armenia and Artsakh. Children enjoying a beautiful Christmas Program return home with Christmas Joy Packages full of beautiful gifts.
During the Christmas celebrations, filled with plays, songs and exciting games, children embrace the amazing story of Jesus, and relive the joy of the Savior born. Thanks to these annual programs of the AMAA, Christmas becomes a special celebration for tens of thousands of needy children and their families living in different cities and villages throughout Armenia and Artsakh.
“Each year the Hrant Dink Foundation prepares an Agenda on a particular topic. The theme for 2018 is ‘Memory’.”
January 19th is the (11th) anniversary of a failed attempt to erase memory.
Dark forces planned the placement of a gun in the hands of a hired assassin with the aim and hope of erasing memory.
Hrant Dink arose as the voice of memory.
For stimulating memory, Hrant Dink sacrificed his life.
Memory has no address nor physical existence.
Memory cannot be erased.
On the occasion of this tragic anniversary, we salute the Hrant Dink Foundation.
A voice for peace, human values, dialogue and enlightenment, the Foundation embraces the collective, inexpungible, and enduring memory of history.
We invite you to read Hrant Dink Foundation’s introduction of its 2018 Agenda titled ‘Memory’
You will hear his voice and realize Hrant Dink lives in you.
So many dawns that have not yet emerged.
By Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO
I did not invent the above headline. But I borrowed it from the American Computer Scientist Alan Kay, whom I quoted in my last AMAA News editorial, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
I remain humbled by the amazing response the AMAA continues to witness in its century old mission to disseminate the Gospel, keep the fire of education ablaze, engage our youth and ‘train a child in the way he should go,’ and to face the challenges of human tragedies and natural disasters head-on.
Despite the abundance of evil around, despite the never-ending lure of greed, despite all those who glorify violence, there is so much good in the world. The seeds of love and compassion that God has sown in the hearts of many manifest His goodness and reflect His love.
I cannot help but share some of the goodness gracefully received at the AMAA…
- “I have noticed great improvement at the AMAA. Activities in support of the Syrian refugee crisis, assistance to fallen heroes in Artsakh, summer camps for children as well as the AMAA News magazine. And, I particularly enjoyed your talk in Minnesota on April 24, 2017.”
- “I consider education very important in the development of the mind and intellect. Unfortunately, some do not get the opportunity and sadly are left behind. I would like to help children attain their ambitions and aspirations. Enclosed is my donation for the education of young girls in Armenia. This may become a way to start ‘inventing the future’ as you so aptly expressed in your editorial.”
- I am grateful to the AMAA because they helped me with my schooling soon after the Second World War. Enclosed please find my gift to be used for a needy student.”
- “Giving is not arduous. I have received a lot.”
The generous donations accompanying the above sentiments and all the others gracefully received at the AMAA are investments in the ‘invention of the future’ of ‘so many dawns that have yet to emerge.’ With the showering of goodness that we have seen since we launched our $20M Centennial Capital Campaign, and at the threshold of 2018, the Campaign total to date has grown to $8M. The challenge is still ahead for us to reach our much-needed goal.
A heartwarming Christmas season has passed. As we celebrated the joyous birth of our Savior, enjoyed His Grace of salvation and His promise of peace, we also remembered the violence, poverty and suffering surrounding us. New dawns will emerge in the fields of Syria, mountains of Artsakh, the plains of Armenia and in communities around us. New dawns that need to see the light of hope, a grip to hold and a shoulder to shore.
The AMAA is ready to rip the shroud of a new dawn.
So many dawns that have not yet emerged.
There is one waiting for you.
On behalf of our Board of Directors and all of us at the Armenian Missionary Association of America, thank you for your generous and continued support of our Mission.
Painting by Anushik Ayvazyan, Yerevan, Armenia (former AMAA sponsored child)
Որքա՜ն հարուստ է մեր մշակոյթը, պատմութիւնը, եկեղեցին եւ մեր հայրերու ստեղծագործութիւնը:
Տօնական օրերու յաջորդականութեան այս հոլովոյթն ու դրութիւնը, ես իսկական օրհնութիւն կը սեպեմ:Արդէն ետին ձգած Ծննդեան վաճառականացուած կամ շահարկութեան ոլորտին շուրջ կեդրոնացած մթնոլորտը, Յունուար 6-ով ներկայացուած այս երկրորդ պատեհութիւնը հրաշալի պարգեւ մըն է մեզի աւելի լաւ ըմբռնելու այն՝ որ կը յիշատակենք, այն՝ որ պատահեցաւ եւ այն՝ միակ եւ մեծագոյն նուէրը որ «խանձարուրով փաթթուած եւ մսուրին մէջ պառկած» մարդկութեան հրամցուեցաւ:
ԽՈՐՀՈՒՐԴ ՄԵԾ ԵՒ ՍՔԱՆՉԵԼԻ
«Հաւատքը չտեսնուած բաներու ապացոյցն է» կ՚ըսէ Պողոս Առաքեալ եւ հաւատքով մենք կը սքանչանանք Մարիամ կոյսին ծննդաբերած Աստուածային յատնաբերումին: Եւ մի ջանաք մարդկային նեղ եւ սահմանափակ մտքերու «ան»կարողութիւնով տրամաբանել Աստուածային մարդեղացումը եւ զոհաբերումը, մարդ արարածին փրկութեան առիթը ընծայելու:
ԽՈՐՀՈՒՐԴ ՄԵԾ ԵՒ ՍՔԱՆՉԵԼԻ
Եւ ահա այս հրաշալիքին մէջ կը կայանայ 5րդ դարէն ժառանգուած «Խորհուրդ»ին Մեծութիւնն ու Սքանչելիութիւնը, երկնուած՝ այնքան գեղեցիկ, խոր եւ խտացած երեք բառերու մէջ:
ԽՈՐՀՈՒՐԴ ՄԵԾ ԵՒ ՍՔԱՆՉԵԼԻ
Այս Ծննդեան Տօնին եկէք խոնարհինք ԽՈՐՀՈՒՐԴի հրաշալիքին դիմաց, ջերմացնենք մեր հոգիները այն ՄԵԾ եւ ՍՔԱՆՉԵԼԻ նուէրով զոր տրամադրուած է բոլորիս, ընդունինք եւ ապրինք զայն երախտագիտութեամբ եւ սիրով: Եկէք ցոլացնենք մեզի պարգեւուած այդ սէրը լուսաւորելով մեր շրջապատը, մեր ազգն ու հայրենիքը եւ համայն մարդկութիւնը:
ՀԱԼԷՊԸ՝ իր ազատագրումի առաջին տարին բոլորեց վերադարձնելով տօնական օրերու ջերմութիւնն ու ոգին: Այդ ոգին, ինչպէս որ տպաւորած է զիս իմ մանկութեան օրերէս եւ արձանագրուած «ՀԱԼԷՊ Առաջին Կայարան» խորագրով եւ «Տօները Հալէպի Մէջ» ենթախորագրով յուշերուս մէջ, կցուած կը ներկայացնենք ձեր ընթերցման հաճոյքին համար:Download Holidays In Aleppo
Որ յայսմ աւուր յայտնեցաւ,
Հովիւքն երգեն ընդ հրեշտակս`
Տան աւետիս աշխարհի:
Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ։
Ծնաւ նոր արքայ
Ի Բեթղեհեմ քաղաքի,
Որդիք մարդկան, օրհնեցէք,
Զի վասն մեր մարմնացաւ:
Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ։
Հեղինակ՝ Մովսէս Խորենացի, 5րդ դար
THE GREAT AND MAGNIFICENT
The great and magnificent Mystery
Is revealed today;
Shepherd and angels shared
The good news with the world;
“Christ is born and is revealed.”
A new king is born
In the city of Bethlehem;
Praise him, sons of men,
For he was incarnate for us.
Christ is born and is revealed.
Words and melody: Movses Khorenatsi, 5th C.
Translation: Ardem Tajerian
Source: The Hymnal (Hokevor Yerkaran)
May every day of the New Year be filled with brightness, hope and many blessings.
All of us at the Armenian Missionary Association of America want to thank you for your love, support and loyalty.
- Review their giving history
- Select child or granny for sponsorship
- Review any purchases made
- Learn more about the Childcare and sponsorship programs the AMAA administers.
- Visit the website at: amaa.donorshops.com
- Click the “Login” button in the top left corner
- Under the “Forgot Your Password?” section, enter your email
- An email with you new password will be sent to your email address on file
There’s still time to show your support to AMAA! This year with your help we have been able to respond to all those who are in need. Your donations have enabled thousands to continue improving their spiritual and physical lives, giving them the means to live with dignity, respect and hope. For this, we thank you.
However, much work lies ahead. Many more lives in Armenia, the Middle East, and Eurasia still need our help—facing countless struggles—especially now in the coming winter months. We simply can’t do it without you. Your support will make a real, lasting impact in the lives of those who are still in need.
To continue to support our work, please make your year-end tax-deductible donation to AMAA today.
You are invited to join the AMAA Down Under!
On the occasion of the AMAA’s Centennial, worldwide gatherings to celebrate and witness this milestone together have been planned. We hope as many members and friends are able to join us on the upcoming trip to beautiful Australia.
Enjoy some of Australia’s most famous sites. Various tour options include a Sydney Harbour Cruise, Southern Barrier Reef tour and visiting the Blue Mountains.
The Centennial celebrations will be under the Auspices of His Excellency Mr. Arayik Harutyunyan State Minister representing the Republic of Artsakh and the President of the Republic of Artsakh Mr. Bako Sahakyan
March 16, Friday, 7:30pm
Chatswood Concourse Concert Hall
March 18, Sunday, 10:00am
Centennial Worship and Praise
Armenian Evangelical Church of Sydney
March 18, Sunday, 6:00pm
Centennial Banquet Dinner
4 Day Sydney Tour:
City Sightseeing, Sydney Harbour Cruise and the Blue Mountains
3 Day Southern Barrier Reef Tour:
Including Lady Musgrave Island
5 Day Fraser Island and Great Barrier Reef
Optional Day Tours:
Canberra, Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains
Please register your name with dates if you intend to join the celebrations in Sydney! For accomodation , we have reserved Silkari Suits at 88 Archer St. Chatswood. If booked through the Association, discounted rates will apply.
Make sure to make your reservations as soon as possible! If booked through the Armenian Missionary Association of Australia, discounted rates will apply. For accommodations, we have reserved Silkari Suits at 88 Archer St. Chatswood. If booked through the Association, discounted rates will apply. For any enquiries please contact: email@example.com
We recommend to organize your travel arrangements to Sydney through Planet Blue Travel, Sydney or your local agents. Travel enquiries contact Planet Blue Travel:
Preparations have been underway to bring Christmas Joy to our children in Armenia and Artsakh once again!
Every year the AMAA’s Christmas Joy Program brings many smiles and fun celebrations to thousands of children and their families in towns and villages throughout Armenia and Artsakh. From music and dancing to Christmas plays and visits from Santa, this is a happy and blessed time of the year.
Last year, in collaboration with the Evangelical Church of Armenia, 45 Christmas and New Year’s programs in 30 towns and cities throughout Armenia and Artsakh were organized. Through these programs, the message of Christmas was proclaimed through music, recitations, games and drama.
With the effort spearheaded by our volunteers, Nelson Randolph and Al Jibilian, the assembling and packing of the Christmas Joy boxes will begin in Yerevan soon.
We praise God for their hard work and dedication which enables us to reach out to these children with the love of Jesus!
For as little as $15 you will help the AMAA continue bringing the spirit of Christmas directly to the children in Armenia and Karabagh. For some, this box may be the only Christmas present they receive. This is an opportunity for all to share God’s love and spread the joy of Christmas.
At the invitation of Armenia’s UN Ambassador H.E. Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, you are invited to attend the celebration of the 26th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Armenia, which will be held at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City, on Thursday, September 21st.
Organized by the Permanent Mission of Armenia to the United Nations, the event will begin at 7 p.m. with a prayer service in the Cathedral, followed by a concert and reception in the Haik and Alice Kavookjian Auditorium.
Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Edward Nalbandian, will be the guest of honor and deliver remarks.
The Haigazian University Armenian Diaspora Research Center (HUADRC) is established to study diverse aspects of the Armenian Diaspora communities in general and in the Middle East in particular, their history, culture, interaction with and integration to the hostland, the Homeland and other Diaspora communities beyond the Middle East.
The Center functions under a “Center Director” in collaboration with the University President’s Academic Cabinet and in cooperation with the Faculty and Librarians.
The Center organizes conferences, hosts public lectures and focus-group discussions, offers internship programs, coordinates and channels efforts in and towards Armenian Diaspora studies in the Middle East.
The Center is engaged in collecting, sorting, and analyzing primary data on the Middle Eastern Armenian Diaspora communities in the context of saving and protecting Armenian Diaspora cultural heritage. It disseminates and promotes academic awareness and knowledge about the Diaspora phenomenon and relevant issues of identity, integration and preservation.
During the past five years HUADRC has organized five conferences:
May 15-17, 2013: Armenian Trans-Nationalism and the Modern Age of Communications
May 14-16, 2014: Armenians of Lebanon (II)
May 24-27, 2015: Armenians of Syria
May 22-24, 2016: Armenians of Jordan
May 29-31, 2017: Armenians of Iraq
Read the Report on the Haigazian Armenian Diaspora Research Center
Organized by the Armenian Diaspora Research Center at Haigazian University, and supported by the Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the recent conference on “Armenians of Iraq” took place over the course of three days May 2017.
On Monday, May 29, the official opening took place in the presence of the Prelates of Lebanon and Iraq, community leaders from Iraq and Lebanon, the Ambassador of Armenia in Lebanon, Armenian intellectuals, historians, and academicians. The Ceremony began with the opening words of Dr. Antranig Dakessian, Director of the ADRC, followed by a presentation by Dr. Razmig Panossian, head of the Armenian Communities Department of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Haigazian University’s President Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian’s words were followed by the opening reflections of the Prelate of Armenians in Iraq, Arch. Avak Asadourian.
The conference, with its eight sessions, extended over three days and covered thirty-four topics, presented by thirty-four scholars coming from countries such as the United States, Egypt, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and the Philippines.
The Haigazian University Armenian Diaspora Research Center has scheduled its next conference on “Armenians of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia” for May 2018. Two other conferences are planned for 2019 and 2020, namely Armenians of Cyprus and Greece, and Armenians of the Arab Gulf area (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE.)
An Enchanted Summer Evening in Support of Haigazian University
Celebrating Rev. Dr. John Markarian’s 100th
by Gilda Buchakjian (Kupelian)
On the occasion of the upcoming Centennial of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), a splendid program organized by the Development Committee of Haigazian University (HU) of Beirut was a fitting occasion to celebrate the centenary of Rev. Dr. John Markarian, the founding president of the University. The elegant gala, attended by alumni and supporters of the University, was graciously hosted on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at the residence of alumnus Andreas Roubian in Saddle River, New Jersey.
Describing the only Armenian university in the Diaspora as the “jewel” of the Middle East, the Master of Ceremonies, alumnus Serge Buchakjian spoke of the culture of “academic excellence inspired by our heritage” that HU has fostered over the years. The unwritten mission of the institution, as the MC deftly qualified, was being a “bridge linking students of diverse backgrounds, a beacon of hope and peace, reflecting the cosmopolitan pluralistic society where it is located.” Poignant testimonials from HU graduates spoke volumes about the significance of this unique institution of higher learning.The opening prayer was delivered by AMAA’s West Coast Executive Director, Levon Filian. As he described how a painting differs from a masterpiece, Mr. Filian drew from the Biblical narrative, and likened the attendees to masterpieces in the image of the Creator.
AMAA’s Executive Director/CEO, Zaven Khanjian spoke of the achievements of the AMAA in the Diaspora and in Armenia, and Haigazian University as “the product of vision, and sacrifice” which inspired the present. And looking into the impending future, Mr. Khanjian said, “those who make up the AMAA with their talents, resources and contribution will guarantee the future.”
On this most auspicious occasion, Mr. Khanjian presented a special congratulatory letter to Dr. Markarian from His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church, a former student of Dr. Markarian’s at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut during the latter’s tenure in the early 1970’s.
Joyce Stein, the daughter of Stephen Philibosian, one of the visionary founders of HU, a member of the Board of the AMAA and of the HU Trustees and herself a loyal and unwavering supporter of the University, introduced the honoree Rev. Dr. John Markarian. Mrs. Stein recounted how her father and Steven Mehakian approached John Markarian, then a member of the faculty at Lafayette College, with the proposal to “change the face of education in the Middle East.” Markarian, “the very fitting, unflappable, intrepid academic, with a sense of humor” took on the challenge thus launching HU. He created an environment for academic excellence, which continues to this day under the capable presidency of Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian. She then awarded the honoree a rare photo representing his early years in Beirut.
Prior to the heartwarming celebration of his 100th birthday with cakes and communal wishes, Dr. John Markarian thanked all those instrumental in the success of HU. And in characteristic humility he said that his work has “been a privilege rather than a chore.” He highly praised the current administration at HU under the leadership of Dr. Haidostian. He credited his family for joining him on his initial venture in Beirut, and his wife Inge for his youthful life. With his unique sense of humor, he imparted a gem of wisdom about longevity that centered on posnology, “the science and the art of joyful living”.
The museum-like residence of host Andreas Roubian, a connoisseur and expert of Aivazovsky, was replete with a myriad paintings by Ivan Aivazovsky, an impressive representation of Russian and Napoleonic art. Roubian has spent his entire life researching and collecting Aivazovsky’s paintings, and his collection is considered by some the world’s most important outside of Russia.
Sotheby’s Chairman, Americas, and Senior Auctioneer, Mr. Doller, a senior expert in 19th century European Art focused on Aivazovsky’s legacy and how Andy Warhol was mesmerized with Aivazovsky’s art. Mr. Doller who is also involved in charitable causes to benefit education expressed his appreciation for Roubian’s involvement in philanthropy, and credited the host with being a true collector, acquiring art because he primarily loved and appreciated its beauty.
Dr. Ani Darakjian, the dedicated chairperson of the Haigazian University Board of Trustees, and granddaughter of Rev. Dikran Antreassian, Chair of the Musa Dagh Defense Council during the Armenian Genocide (the real-life clergyman portrayed in the film “The Promise”) congratulated Dr. Markarian for his two tenures as the proficient president of the University. She commended the academic contribution of the University to all learners of the region, and especially for “providing a chance to those who cannot afford it”.
Current HU president, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, forwarded his heartfelt appreciation and congratulations to Dr. Markarian for his pioneering role and innovative work, and to the AMAA for their momentous and far-reaching accomplishments.
A welcome surprise announcement was the generous contribution of Tina and David Segel to underwrite the cost of updating the HU website.
An enchanting musical interlude, interspersed with enthusiastic applause, was provided by the talented soloist Liliana Natalie Buickians, and pianist Kurt Eric Galvan who played expertly on a 19th century Steinway. The well-selected repertoire, included renditions by Italian and French composers, and culminated in much appreciated Armenian songs by Gomidas.
Warm words of appreciation were addressed to the guests and supporters of Haigazian University, to the co-chairs of the Development Committee Serge Buchakjian and Tina Segel, to the hosts Andreas and Priya for their superb hospitality and home-prepared delectable buffet, to the AMAA leadership, Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, and AMAA staff, to all the speakers, to Anita Buchakjian for her indispensable assistance at the gala, and to Dro Abrahamian, Maria Bakalian at HU for their support, and to Dr. Haidostian for his remarkable work at HU.
To conclude in the words of Serge Buchakjian, “after 62 years of existence, resilience, and excellence,” the hope is to continue to support Haigazian University. The quote from Winston Churchill sums it all: “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”.
Interview with Rev. Dr. John Markarian, Founding President of Haigazian College, during his 100th Birthday celebrations on Saturday, July 22 at Andreas Roubian’s House. Interview is conducted by Vartan Abdo of Armenian Radio Hour and PAREV TV of NJ.
AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian Awarded Presidential ‘Medal of Gratitude’ in Armenia
During a May 28th ceremony at the Presidential Palace, held on the occasion of Republic day in Armenia, RA President Serzh Sargsyan awarded a group of individuals with the highest state awards and honorary titles for their contributions in the spheres of science, education, health, economy, arts & culture, sports, productive work and patriotism.
For his contributions toward the strengthening of Armenia-Diaspora relations and preservation of the Armenian identity, AMAA Executive Director/CEO, Zaven Khanjian received the Medal of Gratitude. The Medal of Gratitude is awarded for state, economic, social, scientific-technical and public activities, as well as for major personal contribution, many years’ of devotion and fruitful activities aimed at promoting the spheres of health, education and culture.
“On this momentous occasion, the 99th anniversary of the first republic of Armenia, the ultimate contentment of service lies in the well preservation of what has been earned through the sacrifice of our forebear” said Mr. Khanjian. “I praise God for our homeland as we continue to advance the spiritual and physical wellbeing of our people everywhere.”
Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, AMAA President, extended congratulations on behalf of the Board of Directors: “We were delighted to hear that Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, the President of the Republic of Armenia, has honored Zaven Khanjian, the Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA by awarding him the ‘Medal of Appreciation’. Mr. Khanjian has dedicated his life to the service of the Armenian people in the Homeland and the Diaspora and is clearly deserving of this honor. On behalf of the entire AMAA family I congratulate Mr. Khanjian on this wonderful occasion.”
Mr. Khanjian was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria where he grew up in the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church and was an active member of the Church’s Youth Group.
Upon graduating from Aleppo College, Mr. Khanjian 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 assuming top positions in prestigious companies, while creating “Little Armenias” together with like-minded peers.
In 1979, 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 in Glendale, Calif., in 1987.
Prior to becoming the Executive Director/CEO at the AMAA in 2014 he remained 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 as Founding Chair of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund – SARF.
Mr. Khanjian has authored volumes of bilingual articles to the American Armenian media and published three Armenian books. He is married to Sona Kellikian, is father of three children and grandfather of six.
The Armenian Missionary Association of America
Orphan and Child Care Committee cordially invites you to its
26th Annual Celebration in the Spirit of Giving
to benefit Armenian children in crisis
An evening of food, wine and fun – featuring a Live & Silent auction, wine pull and Zankagner Performing Arts Ensemble
Music by special guest John Baboian
Thursday, September 28, 2017 7:00PM
WELLESLEY COUNTRY CLUB
294 Wellesley Avenue
Wellesley Hills, MA 02481
One Hundred Dollars Per Person RSVP By September 12
The AMAA supports various relief programs, providing basic necessities of life to people, including orphans and needy children.
Through the Orphan and Child Care Fund, the AMAA continues to operate and support programs such as the Child Sponsorship Program, Shogh Day Centers, Summer Camps, and Christmas and Easter Programs.
To learn more about AMAA Orphan and Child Care Programs visit our Sponsor a Child page.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our State of California leaders to build a historic cultural and educational center that will honor the rich history and celebrate the diverse cultures who call our great state home,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian.
“We would like to express our special thanks to Senator Anthony J. Portantino, Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, and Budget Subcommittee Chair Richard Roth for leading the efforts to prioritize the funding in the 2017-2018 state budget,” stated Museum Governing Board Co-Chair Archbishop Hovnan Derderian.
The $3 million funding request was initiated in the State Senate by Senator Anthony J. Portantino with the support of Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León and Budget Subcommittee Chair Richard Roth. Upon the approval by the Senate Budget Subcommittee and Budget Conference Committee, the new funding for the Armenian American Museum was included in the 2017-2018 state budget proposal approved by the State Legislature on June 15.
“There is a long history of California supporting laudable museum projects around the state,” stated Senator Anthony J. Portantino. “I wanted to make sure that the Armenian American Museum garners equal and fair support.”
“It was an honor to work with my colleagues in the California legislature to secure $3 million dollars in funding for the Armenian American Museum,” stated Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León. “I am proud to stand in solidarity with the Armenian community.”
AMAA LIFE MEMBER, ACTIVIST AND BENEFACTOR ELIZABETH AGBABIAN HONORED BY THE PRESIDENT OF ARMENIA
Elizabeth Agbabian, past Board member, Benefactor and Life Member of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), and a respected longtime activist in the Armenian Evangelical Community and the Armenian American Community at large, was recently awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal by Republic of Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan, on the 99th Anniversary of the First Republic.
The President’s award decree reads: “Guided by the 2005 amendments to Article 55, paragraph 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, and based on the Law of the Republic of Armenia on state awards and honorary titles of the Republic, I have decided; On the occasion of the Day of the Republic, to award philanthropist Elizabeth AGBABIAN (USA) for her contribution to the preservation of the Armenian identity, with the Movses Khorenatsi Medal.” May 17, 2017.
The Movses Khorenatsi Medal is the Republic of Armenia’s highest cultural award. It is presented by the President to those who have significantly contributed to the advancement of Armenian culture in the spheres of culture, art, literature, education, social sciences and sports.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon to Reverend Hovhannes and Aznive Apkarian, Elizabeth Apkarian Agbabian earned a B.A. degree in Social Work and has worked as a trained social worker first in Cleveland, OH and then in Los Angeles, CA, where she has lived since her marriage to Dr. Mihran Agbabian in 1953.
Elizabeth has been active at the United Armenian Congregational Church and has served on the Boards of the Armenian Missionary Association of America and the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center. She was a founding Co-Chair of the AMAA’s Orphan and Child Care Committee, which was formed soon after the devastating December 7, 1988 earthquake in Armenia and has continued to serve on the Committee for over 28 years. She has visited Armenia frequently to view firsthand the living conditions of the children. Elizabeth was also a founding member of the Haigazian University Women’s Auxiliary and the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School’s Women’s Auxiliary with the late Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian, then Executive Director of the AMAA, and Zaven Khanjian, then Chairman of the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School.
Elizabeth is also one of the co-founders of the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA-LA), a non-profit organization dedicated in promoting and enriching the lives of Armenian women worldwide. Along with her committee members, she was also supportive of many ground-breaking initiatives on the West coast including the opening of Armenia’s Consulate General in Los Angeles. With her husband Dr. Mihran Agbabian, founding President of the American University of Armenia, Elizabeth has played a critical role in establishing the University, a most renowned educational institution in Armenia.
Over the years, Elizabeth has earned many prestigious awards. They include the Humanitarian Award of Ararat Home of Los Angeles in 1994, a proclamation of Pontifical Blessings from His Holiness Karekin II in 2003, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2006, a Medal from the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East for her long standing educational services in 2008, the Gold Medal of the Ministry of the Diaspora of the Armenian Government in 2011, Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the Armenian Assembly of America in 2012 and Tributes from the AMAA Board in 1999, 2003 and 2016.
“Volunteers and humanitarians do not help people for medals and decorations,” said Mrs. Agbabian. “Our greatest reward is, knowing that our efforts have helped the needy and the neglected children of Armenia. Important things are the small acts that make our world a better place. I am grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to serve my people through the AMAA. It was Armenia who called me to give to orphans and destitute children the gift of love, compassion and Christian service which I have received from my family and friends in my childhood and adult life. Our reward will be to see a new generation of youth coming out of despair to a productive and happy life.”
“The AMAA salutes Elizabeth Agbabian for this honor coming from the Homeland,” said Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA. “She has an indelible fountain of energy, love of the nation and a natural urge to help all anchored on her faith in God. On behalf of the larger family of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, we congratulate Elizabeth for the honor bestowed on her by President Sargsyan and thank her and Dr. Agbabian for all they do to support the Mission of the AMAA.”
On Tuesday June 22, the Paros Chamber Choir (artistic director Raffi Mikayelyan, conductor Ruben Karaseferian) jointly with the Avedisian School Orchestra (art director Argentina Poghosyan) presented a Concert at the Khoren and Shooshanjig Avedisian Community Center and School Auditorium, dedicated to the first graduates of Avedisian high school.
During the Concert, the Paros Chamber Choir and Avedisian School Orchestra presented Armenian folk and spiritual songs as well as works by Western European composers. The audience warmly welcomed this most impressive performance.
Paros Chamber Choir is the world’s only Choir, that the vast majority of its members are disabled and wheelchair users.
The Avedisian Orchestra founded in 2016 has already presented a few successful concerts in just one year.
Original article in Armenian: http://avedisianschool.am/am/երևանի-ավետիսյան-դպրոցում-տեղի-ունեց/
AMAA Congratulates Long-time Board Member and Major Benefactor, Edward Avedisian as He Receives Inaugural American University of Armenia Presidential Commendation
It isn’t every day somebody turns a century old. We praise God that Rev. Dr. John Markarian is one of them. He has touched so many lives and has been a blessing to many. The AMAA looks forward to celebrating this special milestone on July 22nd in NJ.
The Rev. Dr. John Markarian was born in Windham, a town in Greene County New York affectionately named “Gem of the Catskills” on June 7, 1917, two months after the US entered into World War I. Dr. Markarian’s father, The Rev. Hagop Markarian, was born in Tarsus, the birthplace of St. Paul. He attended the missionary-run St. Paul’s Apostolic Institute and was one of eight Armenian men in the inaugural graduating class of 1893. In 1898, he left Turkey and entered the United States, where he enrolled in Lafayette College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and was awarded the Astronomy Prize and Math Prize at the time of his graduation in 1901. He went on to Princeton Theological Seminary, graduating in 1904 and was ordained into the Presbyterian ministry.
John’s mother, Dora Benedict Euth, traced her American ancestry thru the Benedict Family whose first arrival in the United States was Thomas Benedict in 1638. She was the great-great-great-granddaughter of The Rev. James Benedict, founding Pastor in 1776, of the Pittston Baptist Church in Luzerne County, PA. The Markarian family eventually moved to Scranton, PA where Hagop was the French Professor at Scranton Central High School and stated supply pastor of two Presbyterian Churches, Old Forge and Duryea.
John graduated from Scranton Central HS in the class of 1935. For three years, he was employed as a clerk in S.H. Bezdjian Oriental Rugs in Wilkes-Barre, PA. During that period of time, he attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Finance evening classes earning The Diploma after three years of study. In 1938, he was employed as a clerk in the Plant Record and Cost Department of the Scranton Electric Company until 1941 and enrolled in Lafayette College as a pre-theological student. He graduated in 1943 with a BA Degree in Philosophy. During his enrollment in Lafayette, he worked the nightshift in the Payroll Department at Ingersoll Rand Corporation where he met Ruth Miller. They married in 1943, after his graduation, and moved to New Jersey where John enrolled in Princeton Theological Seminary and Ruth joined the Gallup Corporation in Princeton. In 1945, John graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity Degree. Following in his father’s footsteps, John became an ordained Presbyterian minister in the Lackawanna Presbytery.
In 1946, Dr. Markarian joined the Religion Department at Lafayette College. It was during this time, one of his students, Harry Balukjian, introduced him to the Armenian Community in Philadelphia. In 1955 he took a two year leave of absence from his position at Lafayette to accept an invitation from the Armenian Evangelical Church to organize a church-related college in Beirut, Lebanon, to be named Haigazian. The family of three, his wife Ruth and their 5-year old daughter Joanne, set sail from New York to Beirut on an Egyptian mail line, the SS Mohammed Ali el-Kebir. The completion of Markarian’s dissertation for his Ph.D. in Theology, postponed because of the move to Beirut, was awarded by Drew University Graduate School in Madison, New Jersey in 1963, during a sabbatical for that purpose. This challenging job, the founding and forming of a University college, lasted 11 years until 1966. The family moved to Pella, Iowa, where Dr. Markarian became head of the Religion Department and Dean of the Chapel at Central College, a liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church of America. During this three-year period, Ruth lost her life in a tragic automobile accident. Dr. Markarian eventually returned to Beirut and became Professor of Theology and Director of Development of the Near East School of Theology until 1971, when he returned to the Presidency of Haigazian University College.
In 1973, Dr. Markarian met Inge Wilke, a member of the staff of the German Embassy in Beirut. The two were married in December, 1974, at the Old First Church in Huntington, New York. They spent the years up to 1982 on the door-step of the war in Lebanon. Dr. Markarian retired in 1982 and the two moved to Los Angeles, living there from 1982 – 1986, when they moved to West Pittston where they presently reside. His daughter Joanne lives in Los Angeles, and his grandson, born in 1983 in Los Angeles, now resides in Sydney, Australia.
On May 22, Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO, visited AMAA’s Camp Bedrosian in Shushi, Artsakh, where renovations and refurbishments are underway. The Camp is adding green spaces, opening new lanes, landscaping the playground and making renovations inside the buildings in preparation for the upcoming Camp season. After reviewing, the renovation process, Mr. Khanjian, visited AMAA’s Bilezikian Kindergarten where he met with Diana Danielyan, Director of the Kindergarten and the Senior Director of Shogh Day Care Center, housed in the Kindergarten. Mr. Khanjian reviewed the education and learning process at both the Kindergarten and the Day Care Center, praised the work and reiterated AMAA’s support of continued improvements at the Kindergarten and Center to cope with the implemented programs.
Mr. Khanjian next visited AMAA’s Stepanakert office as well as the Baghdikian Kindergarten next to the Center. At the Baghdikian Kindergarten, the children are nourished, educated, take naps in comfortable beds and have playtime in the adjacent playground.
On May 23, Mr. Khanjian visited the Honorable Ashot Ghulyan, Speaker of Artsakh’s National Assembly. Mr. Ghulyan warmly welcomed the ED and highly commended the humanitarian mission the AMAA carries in Artsakh. Mr. Khanjian expressed his delight witnessing the continuous developments in the economic and social life of the people of Artsakh. He confirmed AMAA’s commitment to continue its humanitarian projects in improved facilities and expanded services where needed. They also discussed the current situation on Artsakh’s Eastern border and relations with the Diaspora.
On the same day, Mr. Khanjian met with Archbishop Barkev Martirosyan, Prelate of the Diocese of Artsakh. Mr. Khanjian thanked the Archbishop for his spiritual leadership of the people of Artsakh and expressed confidence in the strengthening of the continued cordial and brotherly relations between the Armenian Apostolic and Evangelical churches.
In the evening, Mr. Khanjian, accompanied by AMAA representatives in Armenia and Artsakh, visited the President of Artsakh Republic, HE Bako Sahakyan. The President noted with satisfaction AMAA’s historic presence in Artsakh and the different educational, social, youth support and humanitarian aid programs that it implements. Mr. Khanjian reiterated AMAA’s commitment of continued and elevated support of the people of Artsakh through its various programs.
The following message was delivered by Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO on the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide by Ottoman Turkey at St. Sahag Armenian Church in Minneapolis, MN, on April 24, 2017
Pursuit of the Iron Ladle
Two years ago and on April 24, 2015, the world, well, the world that orbits around us, commemorated the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide.
Today is April 24, 2017
Collectively, humanity has surrendered two more years to the whirlpool of history.
It was a solemn occasion, a distinct anniversary. An occasion to relive the anguish and yet rejoice the miracle of survival. An anniversary that stirred both sorrow and pride in our collective soul.
Justifiably, and following the poet’s example, we can and ought to ask ourselves.
Յաշուեյարդար, ին՞չ մնաց, կեանքէն ինծի ին՞չ մնաց:
‘To sum it up, what remains? From the Centennial, what remains?”
I want to start sharing a personal story, which will be a prelude to our expectations, aspirations and dreams emanating from our struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and quest for justice.
You have probably heard of Armen Aroyan, a prominent member of the Southern California Armenian community. Armen Aroyan earned his fame during the past three decades since he pioneered to lead hundreds of Armenians from all over the world and in particular, the United States to visit their ancestral homeland in occupied historic Armenia.
Two of my sisters and brother took this pilgrimage back to their roots in the early 90s.
At the time, I was not yet ready. For a long time I did not have the predisposition and psychological maturity to confront the people and the country which stopped the clock on the lives of my two grandfathers, half my nation and most of my historical fatherland in their attempted Genocide of 1915.
My sister Laura took her trip to her ancestral home in September 1994. On a hillside in Agin, a village in the outskirts of Arapkir sit two homes one across the other. They belong to my paternal and maternal grandfathers. My father was born in one of these homes a few years before the ‘Yeghern’ started. Aroyan has taken many of his guests who visit the area to drive by the street and has talked to them about the Khanjian heritage. Not everyone is privileged to enter the house. My sister however, not only had the opportunity but the right to be there and she was not deprived. During the tour, the matriarch of the family, a woman of my father’s age and generation, who personally knew my father and had hosted him in the house on two occasions in the 50s and 60s, points to a room in the house and invites my sister in.
My father was born in that room.
Entering the room, praying, sobbing, touching and talking to the walls, my sister would have thought her pilgrimage had culminated.
However, there was more in store for her.
As she gets ready to leave, the matriarch gathers her family around her and instructs.
‘Anytime this lady or one of her siblings visit the house, you welcome them with dignity and respect and treat them like the owners of the house”In 2006, it was my turn.
My wife and I took our pilgrimage to our roots.
Before taking the trip, Sona and I wondered as to how we could make the pilgrimage to the land, to the parental home, significant and memorable. How can we honor and memorialize my two grandfathers, brutally killed on this soil; my father, resting in a foreign soil with the longing and love of Agin and all those who were martyred for the sin of having been born Armenian. We contemplated, concluded and planned to plant a tree, a walnut tree, in the backyard of my paternal grandfather’s home where my father was born. A walnut tree will live long, develop, grow and flourish. It will provide shade and shelter to those living under it. It will be strong, firm and a long-lived providing fruit for years unknown. All that to immortalize the sacred sacrament of the renowned poet Levon Zaven Surmelian who penned
«Մեռելներուս իբրեւ խաչ՝ ես այս ծառը տնկեցի»
“As a cross for my departed, I planted this tree”
Walking up a hill, Aroyan leads us to the house. In my haste, I find myself leading the group with the walnut sapling in my hand. I notice an adult man on the balcony who is the son of the matriarch my sister had met earlier. I salute him in my broken Turkish and without waiting for his welcoming words enter the house and walk up the stairs to the upper floor. Restless and uncomfortable, I introduce myself to the ‘owner’ and immediately realize that he knows me well, he knows my father and the whole Khanjian clan. He describes in detail my father’s second visit to Agin in 1969 when he was a boy of thirteen. He talks about the Khanjians, Armenian Turkish relationship, the ‘exodus’ of the Armenians. He talks about his profession, his father and recites how his father had acquired the house. He talks about his mother my sister had met in 1994 and says she died in 1998. Evidently, faithful to her mother’s commandment, Hussain, that was his name, affirms that we could be his guests in the house anytime and for as long as we desire. All the while, he is following me in my emotional walk through the house. Suddenly, he approaches me, and throwing an arm on my shoulder, I wonder out of guilt or anxiety, asks me in an easily understood Turkish.
“Now tell me, IS THIS YOUR HOUSE OR MINE?”
I feel a blow on my head. A cold sweat covers my face. I did not answer. Instead, with a forced smile and pointing to the walnut sapling placed on the table, I said:
I have a gift for you where shall we plant it.
Hussain and I plant the tree; the late Serpazan Arch. Datev Gharibian of Brazil blesses it following Surmelian’s prayer.
“Lord, bless this tender tree. Here I plant it
In the crumbly and black soil where my ancestors are lain”
We leave with Hussain’s question lingering in my head. “Is This Your House or Mine?”
I wrote a book about our pilgrimage and you guessed it the title was.
“Is This House Yours or Mine?”
Dr. Taner Akcam, the Turkish Historian who currently holds the Kaloosdian – Mugar Chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University, is one of the foremost proponents of dialogue between Armenians and Turks. At a lecture in Toronto on May 25, 2001, where the Zoryan Institute launched Akcam’s publication titled, “Dialogue Across International Divide: Essays Towards a Turkish-Armenian Dialogue” (He has since published several books covering the Armenian Genocide) he explains:
“Someone looking at me sees only one person, but I represent the tip of the iceberg of those involved in the process, who are seeking an open society in Turkey. I am a product of this process in Turkey and I am not alone” “Civil society in Turkey knows that without coming to terms with history, we cannot build a democracy in Turkey” “Not only we should remember history, but actually to institutionalize remembering is essential for the process of democratization”
Two years after the Centennial, we are gathered here tonight to commemorate the anniversary of the Genocide.
What do we want today?
Two years ago, we poured in our hearts and commemorated the Centennial.
So going back to Vahan Tekeyan, we ask ourselves:
‘To sum it up, what remains? From the Centennial, what remains?”
It should be jubilantly acknowledged that we worked hard and can confidently claim a degree of reward and victory. The Centennial raised our national struggle to an unprecedented plateau of universal awareness, respect and recognition that was worthy of the cause and powerful in its impact. Intangible victories may be, but nevertheless a firm foundation upon which we can (and should) continuously build.
The inevitable and hard question to ask is – what comes next?
The path is still long and thorny, the obstacles and hindrances many. However, the collective will and determination is in place and our resolute faith in our just struggle is unshakable. God is the foundation of our quest for justice and the recognition of the truth. We need not sit idle in acquiescence. The struggle continues.
Despite the many achievements and victories, we have not gained much on the road of reparations, restitutions and recognition from the heirs of the perpetrators. All recognition, sympathy and acknowledgment in the civilized world have come with impunity without legal muscle. The heirs of the perpetrators still lie in a deep coma of self-denial. Adding insult to injury, the ‘civilized’ world, with total acquiescence, turned a blind eye to the continuing crime committed by the same perpetrator in Syria. The institutionalization of remembrance and the move towards democratization in Turkey that Taner Akcam was talking about in 2001 remains hostage in 2017 to the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish penal code which criminalizes any and all remembrance of the Genocide. And despite the goodwill of a mountain of Turkish or Kurdish intellectuals involved in the process and seeking an open society in Turkey, Hrant Dink was murdered by the Deep State in Turkey and ten years after his martyrdom his trial has still not exposed the masters behind the hired assassin, 17 year old Ogun Samast. Erdogan remains on a fast pace of amending the constitution pulling Turkey behind and creating an autocratic regime with most powers centralized in the hands of ‘sultan’ Erdogan.
In the face of all these challenges from the East and the hegemony, hypocrisy and double standards of the West we can only depend on ourselves. The realization of our quest for justice remains solely on our selfless and sacrificial devotion and commitment to the application of Khrimian Hayrig’s ‘iron ladle’. Երկաթէ Շերեփ
Over the span of time and under the effect of various conditions and circumstances, which influence our national path, our priorities, focus and agendas, should justifiably remain flexible and malleable. Our collective psyche cannot and should not remain hostage to the fetters of the Genocide. Therefore, until that promised dawn when our collective national soul is able to bring the iron ladle home without any impediment or procrastination we have to focus on the following essential priorities.
In 2016, Armenia celebrated the 25th anniversary of independence. Despite the fact that we had no input in the realization of our collective dream; despite the fact that we were even confused for a while; we were jubilant. We had our place in the league of nations. We raised our heads in dignity and pride and saluted the tricolor. We built a nation and created a country from the ashes of the Soviet system. We bore the shock therapy of moving from a very centralized socialist economy to a radical capitalist system, from an atheist system that persecuted believers, to a society, which created an unprecedented opportunity to resurrect the faith of our fathers in the land of a nation, which embraced Christianity in 301 AD. We fought a liberation war in Artsakh, and at the cost of thousands of martyred lives, enormous economic sacrifices and a faithful and supportive diaspora we were able to win the war.
Twenty-five years after independence, we are not where we wanted to be. The road has not been rosy as our homeland continues to face the challenges of tumultuous times. Having won a liberation war, we failed to win the peace and continue to face an aggressive enemy whose consistent breaches of a shaky ceasefire has reaped the lives of hundreds of young conscripts defending our borders, and countless civilians peacefully living on their land. An enemy, whose behavior continues to obstruct scores of development projects so vital for the economy of the area. Our Homeland continues to experience skyrocketing unemployment, extreme poverty, economic paralysis, mass migration, the rise of oligarchs and widespread corruption.
We have not and should not lose faith. Our vision of the new citizen in the Homeland is one of indelible integrity, who upholds the highest values and earns an unblemished reputation. One who advocates social justice, freedom of conscience, expression or speech; a citizen who exercises voluntarism, sustains society, respects human rights and sacrifices for the Homeland; a citizen who respects the law and equal rights of others under the law; a citizen who loves the Lord and reflects His love. These are fundamental prerequisites of the concrete foundation of a strong, self-sustained, proud developing democracy, ripe for a growing economy that will create a new, creative and happy society and a strong army capable to defend its borders. There lies the hope of the promised ‘iron ladle’ in the Homeland.
Centuries of persecution, invasion, aggression, discrimination, usurpation and successive massacres have created waves of exodus from our historic homeland resulting in the Armenian Diaspora. The 1915 Genocide was the culmination of all, dispersing the remnants of the survivors all over the world. Independence brought the hope of a shrinking Diaspora but the reality on the ground came to expand the Armenian Diaspora because of the exodus from the Homeland. The story of the Diaspora is not the subject of the day. However, it is essential to recognize the realities of an expanding Diaspora in terms of its struggle to perpetuate (գոյատեւում կամ ազգապահպանում) and enormous potential to assist the Homeland.
In order to achieve that desired role we have to attain a healthy and prosperous Diaspora. The reality on the ground here too seems to be short of the aspired.
For many decades after the Genocide, the throbbing heart of the Armenian Diaspora remained to be the communities of the Middle East. Active, thriving, energetic, industrious and spirited communities remained the beehive of Armenian culture and education, exporting able leadership in all realms of Armenian community life all over the globe. No more. The Achilles’s Heel of the Armenia Diaspora remains the tragic situation in Syria. Five years of death and destruction has devastated the Mother Diaspora Community of Syria, dispersing its masses across the region and beyond and diminishing its role and power potential. It is hard to shape an ‘iron ladle’ in the region.
Despite all the difficulties described above I see a new dawn rising on the horizon of the new Armenian Diaspora. What we came to witness on the Genocide Centennial and since then, has anchored an unwavering confidence in our youth, making us proud of their alertness, accomplishments, creativity, sense of belonging and sense of responsibility. A mental survey of our youth around the globe reveals that never before in the history of our nation have we had such an army of students in higher education who constitute contingents of potential professionals, scientists, educators, and prominent stars in the fields of science, art and public service ready to take charge of our communities. Are we molding an iron ladle? I do not know but I am optimistic.
With the strength gathered thru the legendary Kirk Kerkorian’s “Promise”; Near East Foundation’s “They Shall Not Perish” just aired on PBS; and the baby steps of the recently conceived Armenian American Museum in Glendale, California to give a few examples, we seem to be on the right path.
With a strong and truly democratic Homeland and a new Diaspora taking shape we vow to perpetuate the faith, the language, the culture and overcome evil with song and dance, hope and prayer, smiles and joy all for the Glory of God who said in Romans 12:19 “It is mine to avenge; I will repay”
Erdogan can dream of an Empire and hold tight to Article 301. However, the heirs of the Matriarch of Agin, her son Hussain, Taner Akcam and his fellow intellectuals will multiply and prevail.
God is faithful; He will deliver the Iron ladle.
April 24, 2017
Bear Grylls, the British adventurer and television presenter, once said, “The rules of survival never change, whether you’re in a desert or an arena.”
These are words that Alik Sarian, Haigazian University freshman and HU’s Future Armenian Leadership Fund (FALF) scholarship recipient lives by. Coming straight out of war-torn Aleppo with her family last summer, Alik has emerged on campus with a clear direction and focus. Life and hope have emerged from a wilderness. In the words of the prophet, “The desert… shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” (Isaiah 35:1) But behind her sweet shyness and pleasant demeanor is an inner determination and resolution to be her best and to make an impact on society as she prepares her future to help those in greatest need.
Besides being honored on the President’s List, Fall 2017, Alik has also become a rising star as the starting point guard on the Haigazian University Women’s basketball team. Just recently she earned her personal best, with twenty-seven points in a 51-28 win against the University of Balamand, topping her twenty-three points against LAU (Byblos) only days before.
But Alik’s drive to excel is nothing new. Under constant danger in Aleppo, Alik managed to play basketball and take piano lessons while also pursuing her high school career. A stellar student, she represented the Karen Jeppe Armenian College well, winning first place in the (All) Syrian Science Olympiad four years straight. When the fighting intensified, with daily bombings in her neighborhood, the school moved to the safer, smaller Gulbenkian Middle School, and her studies were never disrupted.
With Alik’s diploma and her acceptance to Haigazian University in hand, the entire family (father, mother, and younger sister) uprooted themselves and moved to Lebanon in August, where years earlier her grandfather had wisely invested in property in Jounieh. Though safe and secure, Alik and her family’s transition and experiences have not been unaccompanied by challenges. Alik has been met with some unfounded biases: distrust, prejudice and misinterpreting her to be uneducated because of her Syrian Arabic dialect.
But true to form and undeterred, Alik keeps her eyes on the horizon. She is fascinated by science, but is more interested in entering a field where she can help people. That is why she has chosen Biology as her major, with the intent to practice medicine. Her favorite professor at Haigazian University is Dr. Nadim Hassoun, who serves as Pre-Med advisor. She is amazed at his experience, knowledge and perspective.
Alik expresses enormous gratitude for the FALF Scholarship as “simply AMAZING!” She realizes that with the scholarship, new doors have appeared and her future intentions have a chance for being realized. She could have easily received a Merit-based Scholarship or a Scholarship for Syrian students. But FALF has extra meaning in the word “Leadership.” Supporters of FALF can rest assured that their investment in students like Alik and the 7 other recipients is a strong investment for the future.
WAYS TO GIVE
For more information on how you can support students like Alik and invest in students who will follow Alik’s lead and make an impact on their world in the future, you may contact Dro Abrahamian, Executive Counsel for Advancement at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Haigazian University’s Ways to Give Page at http://www.haigazian.edu.lb/Giving To HU/Pages/WaysToGive.aspx
To download a copy of Haigazian University’s Case for Support, click on http://www.haigazian.edu.lb/Giving%20To%20HU/Documents/Caseforsupport.pdf
Armenian organizations in North America band together to ensure the success of the film through grassroots efforts
For the first time, a big budget, wide-release feature film—complete with a-list, Hollywood celebrities and a renowned, Academy Award-winning director—will depict the Armenian Genocide. This monumental film, The Promise, will be released in mainstream theaters across the United States and Canada on April 21, marking a major triumph for the Armenian community. Due to the exceptional caliber of the film, it will not be screened privately at community events. Instead, groups are strongly encouraged to go en masse to their local theaters to support the film and help it reach the highest possible box-office sales. For exact dates of the film’s international release, please see the end of this release and continue to check social media.
All Armenians and non-Armenians are urged to support the grassroots efforts leading up to the premiere of the film to ensure its success and encourage the film industry to produce more films about Armenian history. (1) Bring friends and family to the film during its opening weekend. (2) Spread the word about The Promise on social media with the hashtags #KeepThePromise and #ThePromiseTheFilm and invite friends and family to join the campaign. (3) Go to daytime and night screenings of The Promise during its opening week. (4) Review the film online at www.rottentomatoes.com and www.imdb.com as honestly as you see fit.
Produced by the legendary Kirk Kerkorian’s Survival Pictures and directed by Academy Award winner Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), The Promise features an outstanding international cast, including Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, Christian Bale, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Angela Sarafyan, and many more. All proceeds from the film will be donated to non-profit organizations, the first time for a film of this scale.
In the film, it is 1914. As the Great War looms, the vast Ottoman Empire is crumbling. Constantinople (Istanbul)—its once vibrant, multicultural capital—is about to be consumed by chaos. Michael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) arrives in the cosmopolitan hub as a medical student determined to bring modern medicine to Siroun, his ancestral village in southern Turkey where Turkish Muslims and Armenian Christians have lived side by side for centuries. Photo-journalist Chris Meyers (Christian Bale) has come only partly to cover geo-political news. He is mesmerized by his love for Ana (Charlotte Le Bon), an Armenian artist he has accompanied from Paris after the sudden death of her father. When Michael meets Ana, their shared Armenian heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between the two men, even as Michael hangs on to a promise from his past. After the Turks join the war on the German side, the Empire turns violently against its own ethnic minorities. Despite their conflicts, everyone must find a way to survive—even as monumental events envelope their lives.
In addition to the all-star cast, acclaimed musician and activist Serj Tankian served as the film’s executive music consultant and contributed a modern rendition of the Armenian folk song, “Sari Siroun Yar,” to the soundtrack. “It’s been an honor to be an impartial ear and eye to the film,” said Tankian. “The best way to counter high budget disinformation campaigns by the Turkish government is to move people with the truth via the arts. I’ve been doing it for years with music and wanted to help do it through film somehow.” The original title song for the film was written and performed by Chris Cornell of the band Soundgarden and the original score was composed by Academy Award winner Gabriel Yared (The English Patient).
In addition to the release in the United States and Canada on April 21, The Promise will also be released in the Middle East (Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, UAE, Yemen) on April 20; in Armenia and Russia on April 27; in the United Kingdom on April 28; in Poland on May 5; in Australia on May 25; in Thailand on June 1; in Spain on June 2; in Belgium on June 14; in the Netherlands on June 15; in Singapore on June 22; in South Africa on June 23 and in Italy on August 24. Please continue to check social media for updates on the film’s release in more countries.
The grassroots campaign to ensure the box-office success of The Promise has been a worldwide effort supported by a joint coalition of Armenian organizations in North America, including: All-Armenian Student Association (All-ASA), Armenia Fund, Armenia Tree Project, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance, Armenian Catholic Eparchy in the United States & Canada, Armenian Film Foundation, Armenian Gay and Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY), Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA), Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), Armenian Missionary Association of Canada (AMAC), Armenian National Committee (ANC), Armenian National Institute (ANI), Armenian Network of America, Armenian Prelacy of Canada, the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) of the United States, Armenian Students’ Association of America, Arpa Foundation for Film, Music and Art (AFFMA), Children of Armenia Fund (COAF), Constantinople Armenian Relief Society (CARS), Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Canada, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), Hamazkayin Educational & Cultural Society of the United States, Hayastan Foundation Canada, Knights and Daughters of Vartan, National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Office of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in the United States, ONEArmenia, Organization of Istanbul Armenians (OIA), Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada, Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOAR), Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and Zoryan Institute.
To join the joint effort in North America, please contact email@example.com
To find out more about The Promise, please visit www.survivalpictures.org/the-promise/
To book a local theater to host a large group showing of the film, please email KeepThePromise@agbu.org
While they were still talking about this, Jesus Himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ Luke 24:36
The year 2017 is going by ever so quickly and both Easter and Spring are suddenly upon us. Easter, the most important date on our religious calendar, means that He has risen. Alleluia!
The power of resurrection is the spring of peace for all Christians. Now more than ever we look to our Savior, Jesus Christ, for peace in the world and for peace in our own lives. If we have faith in His victory over death, we can overcome our troubles, doubts, worries and concerns.
Heeding the call and trusting the power of His resurrection, the Armenian Missionary Association of America continues to spread His peace and love in 24 countries all over the world. We are doing this by helping our brothers and sisters throughout the Middle East who have lost memory of what living in peace is like. We are spreading hope and love to our precious children by providing them with an education and vital health care. We are building churches, community centers and camps where our people can find a little peace, practice their faith and experience fellowship and love.
We hope that you will join us this Easter and support our call to love and serve our God by caring for our brothers and sisters. Your gift, no matter how large or how small, will help us support so many who are in desperate need of our help.
May the victorious Savior continue to bless you and your family throughout this Easter Season. Please join us to spread the words of Jesus and may “Peace be with you.”
Քրիստոս Յարեաւ ի Մեռելոց!
Keep the members of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Alfortville (Paris, France) who are still in shock from a 6:00 am, Sunday arson attack on the Church.
According to reports, a trash bin in front of the Church was deliberately set on fire. Thankfully, firefighters arrived in time to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading. This is the third attack on the Church over the past year, the last one was on March 26th, when stones were thrown against the building causing some damage.
Concerned with the welfare of families of martyred Armenian soldiers, and directed by AMAA Headquarters in Paramus, Harout Nercessian, AMAA Representative in Armenia, and Lusine Ohanyan, Coordinator of AMAA-Armenia’s External Affairs, visited Armenia’s First Deputy Minister of Defense, David Tonoyan.
They discussed AMAA’s cooperation with the Defense Ministry in programs aimed at providing medical and humanitarian assistance to the wounded soldiers; humanitarian assistance and medical equipment AMAA had shipped to Armenia; AMAA’s commitment to financially support the family of martyred Air Force helicopter pilot Sergei Sahakyan; and the renovation of the Norashen home of the martyred conscript Hayk Tevoyan.
AMAA expressed readiness to assist soldiers’ families, in particular those martyred during the four-day war of April 2016.
The Ministry of Defense provided AMAA with a list of martyred soldiers. Staff visited each of these families, both in Armenia and Artsakh. After reviewing each case, children who qualified were placed in AMAA’s Child Sponsorship Program. Nineteen families with various home renovation needs were identified. AMAA appropriated funds and renovation work has already commenced on the homes of these 19 martyred soldiers.
AMAA continues its Karabagh Relief efforts. Lend your support today – make a donation and help make a difference!
One Year Later…
Just this week, on March 28th, Armenian serviceman, Artak Rafaelyan, was killed in the line of duty.
As the one year anniversary of the April 2016 four-day war is upon us, let us continue keeping our thoughts and prayers with the people of Artsakh, the families of our martyred soldiers and our brave men defending the Fatherland. We stand in solidarity with our people, and pray for successful negotiations toward a peaceful resolution.
It is hard to believe, but the crisis in Syria started six years ago. During these six years of fighting, civilians have been heavily affected by the war. Below is a summary update we recently received from Rev. Haroutune Selimian, President of the Armenian Protestant Community in Syria.
When it comes to Aleppo we can say that the situation has improved for everyone. There has been a lot of work toward getting buildings habitable again so that families can return to their homes. There are, of course, many buildings that must be torn down and totally rebuilt.
On March 14th, Water Resources Minister Nabil al-Hassan announced that water had reached the Sleiman al-Halabi station, and from there it will be pumped to residential neighborhoods in Aleppo. Electricity remains the real problem as the neighborhoods in Aleppo receive no more than two hours of electricity a day.
Although the overall security situation in Aleppo is stable, missiles are occasionally launched into our neighborhoods.
The situation for the Churches in Aleppo is at its best since July 2012. In spite of the hardships that our people are experiencing, our churches are still functioning just like before and all school groups are up and running. The eleven churches of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria are: In Aleppo the Armenian Evangelical Bethel Church, the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church, the Armenian Evangelical Martyrs’ Church, Church of Christ, and the Syriac Evangelical Church. In Kessab the four are actively responding to the needs of their communities according to the means at hand as well as the Armenian Evangelical Churches in Damascus and Homs.
The Armenian Evangelical Community as a whole has continued to provide aid to its people in various forms of assistance. As the war has brought about an incredible rate of inflation, the assistance being given by the church is more necessary than ever.
Bethel Polyclinic, which was established to assist people who are in need of medical check-ups, diagnosis and medication for chronic patients, has also continued their services free of charge.
Armiss Conservatory also continues its mission with a highly qualified teaching staff. This year, the Conservatory has accommodated thirty students, who are also members of Bethel Church and also students from Bethel Secondary School. The students learn solfege, piano, violin, guitar and flute.
We thank you so much for praying for us and for the whole country of Syria.
May the Lord Jesus Christ always be glorified in the lives of our churches.
Rev. Haroutune Selimian
President, Armenian Protestant Community in Syria
Despite the trauma our people in Syria have endured these past six years, these updates provide proof that your prayers and generosity have indeed made a difference.
So far, your gifts have provided:
- Food, water, heating and other basic necessities
- Medical assistance
- Educational assistance
- Resettlement in Armenia
You need to have courage to swim against the tide.
By Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO
Growing up in the Middle East, recollection of my conscious life mostly reveals a constant single direction of human migration to the West. It is true that our lives revolved around our insular communities and the notable migrating currents were from within. Not surprisingly, I discovered later in life that currents of indigenous Middle Eastern masses of other faiths and ethnicities also joined the constant Westward migration flow. Communities of (Greater) Syrian origin punctuate landmarks both in Europe and in North and South America.
Oppression, tyranny and persecution of minorities in the Ottoman Empire had long led to a smaller degree of flight to the West. A further splash deep in the history of mankind clearly reveals the constant flow of civilizations from their cradle in the Middle East toward the promising land of opportunities and safer new found territories of the West.
The realized promise of an independent Armenia did not change the direction of the flow. On the contrary, since independence, the Homeland has been one third depopulated losing 48,000 more people to the tide of exodus in 2016 alone (www.aniarc.am ANI Armenian Research Center).
Pursuing a better life, education, freedom or escaping from persecution, tyranny or discrimination, the flow is a going with the tide. Natural, justified and far-sighted it may be, but with the tide.
On Sunday, January 29, 2017, a service, sponsored jointly by the Armenian Missionary Association of America and the Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ, the successor body of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, commissioned Philadelphia-born Rev. Nishan Bakalian, Pastor of the Armenian Martyrs Congregational Church since 2007 ?, and Maria Bakalian as Missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon. On Tuesday, January 31, the Missionary couple left for the Middle East.
On Monday, January 30, 2017, Jerusalem-born Samuel Chekijian, a successful businessman, longtime resident of Boston, Massachusetts, and member of the Armenian Memorial Church in Watertown, passed away in his self-built residence in Yerevan. He had resettled in Armenia and extensively invested in the Homeland.
What do Rev. and Mrs. Bakalian and Mr. Chekijian have in common?
They all meaningfully exemplify a move against the tide.
The world we know today is undergoing a great deal of distress. Whether personal, ethnic, religious or regional anxiety, sorrow or physical and mental suffering, there is ample pain around that calls for attention and attendance. Driven by the fear of physical violence, discouraged by the lack of opportunities, disillusioned by shattered dreams and unrealized promises, hope is at the risk of extinction. Enter the courageous few, filled with the spirit of the greatest healer, Jesus Christ, His eternal love, ever enduring mercy, unlimited compassion and ultimate sacrifice, ready to move against the tide, injects hope, radiates love, reaches out, creates opportunities and provides comfort and peace.
The Bakalians set sail to a region plagued with violence, uncertainty, economic spiral, turmoil and poverty, a region daunted with fear, intolerance and anguish. Armed with love, knowledge and compassion, they will teach, mentor and advise. They will heal, encourage and sow hope.
Sam loved the Homeland, invested in Armenia, embarked on an ambitious construction project and built a uniquely luxurious residential complex. He created employment and supported families. He loved his Creator, worshiped at the Evangelical Church of Armenia and graciously funded the renovation of the Church Hall at Baghramyan. Sam loved Armenia’s children and generously supported the Avedisian School.
Moving against the tide takes courage, involves risk taking and demands ample sacrifices. It is the hard and narrow road but one which leads to happiness experienced only by the few.
AMAA’s Centennial Campaign also embodies vehicles, endorses missions, empowers imagination, encourages ‘homecoming’ and enables potential moves against the tide. The AMAA’s Centennial Campaign does not build empires or raise monuments. It builds and re-builds lives and resurrects hope.
Please keep Rev. and Mrs. Bakalian and Mr. Chekijian’s loved ones in your prayers and partner with us to push back the tide and make our world and our Homeland a better place worthy of His glory.
At the invitation of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Toronto, Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO, visited the Armenian Evangelical Community of Toronto March 17-20 and had three busy days filled with meetings and activities organized by the Church.
On Friday evening, the Church organized a special event dedicated to the 10th Anniversary of the assassination of Hrant Dink. Church member Hagop Anserlian gave the opening remarks which were followed by a Musical Program presented by violinist Daniel Temnick who offered two pieces by Johan Sebastian Bach−Violin Sonata #1 Siciliano and Presto and Nicolo Paganini–Caprice #10.
Rev. Serop Megerditchian, Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church, introduced Mr. Khanjian who spoke about Hrant Dink and Camp Armen – The Roots of Dink’s Struggle. After Mezzo-Soprano Sona Hovsepyan’s musical offering of Groung and Paree Arakeel, the Program ended with the Benediction offered by Rev. Megerditchian. Refreshments followed the lecture in the Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian Fellowship Hall of the Church where the guests had an opportunity to greet Mr. Khanjian.
On Saturday morning, Mr. Khanjian met with the Armenian Missionary Association of Canada’s Board in the Levon Fermanian Library of the Church. The Montreal members of AMAC joined the meeting via Skype.
On Saturday evening, the Church’s Missions Committee organized a fundraising Mission Banquet which took place at Lara’s Restaurant with 150 guests. Mihran Jizmejian, AMAC President, gave the opening remarks and violinist Jonathan Garabedian offered three pieces by Aram Khachadourian. Rev. Megerditchian introduced Keynote Speaker Mr. Khanjian who, with the aid of a video presentation, discussed AMAA’s mission worldwide, especially in Armenia. The Banquet ended with Rev. Megerditchian’s closing remarks and Benediction.
The Sunday morning Worship Service was held with more than 250 in attendance. The theme of Mr. Khanjian’s sermon was “You are the Light of the World.” With a video presentation Mr. Khanjian also spoke about the ministry of the AMAA. The Sunday School of the Church also participated in the Worship Service by singing two hymns. On behalf of the Church, Rev. Megerditchian thanked Mr. Khanjian for his visit and presented him with a torch thanking him and the AMAA for their dedicated ministry to the Armenian communities worldwide.
During the Social Hour, Mr. Khanjian had an opportunity to meet with the congregation and the newcomers from Aleppo, Syria in the Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian Fellowship Hall.
It was a blessed weekend not only for the Armenian Evangelical Church, but also for the whole Armenian Community of Toronto. Those in attendance were very touched by the detailed presentations of the AMAA ministries.
The Armenian Evangelical Church of Toronto
Presents a lecture on
HRANT DINK and CAMP ARMEN
The Roots of Dink’s struggle
by Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO
Friday, March 17, 2017, 8:00 pm
Armenian Evangelical Church of Toronto
Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian Fellowship Hall
2600 14th Avenue Markham, ON L3R 3X1
Refreshments to follow for more info please call the Church at (905) 305-8144
But one thing I know is that things will change, for better or worse. How do I know? I don’t see the change, I’m living the change.
HRANT DINK (1954-2007)
The prominent British journalist, correspondent of the London ‘INDEPENDENT’ in the Middle East, Robert Fisk, described Hrant Dink as the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian Genocide.
The shock was overwhelming even for Turkish society. So much that a hundred thousand of them walked at the procession of his funeral, carrying signs, banners and placards reading “we are all Hrant Dink,” “we are all Armenians.”
Hrant Dink was a shining star among the students. After contributing to the building of Camp Armen in Tuzla he grew up to take a leadership role in the Gedik Pasa Armenian Evangelical Church after the seizure of the Camp by the Turkish authorities and Guzelian’s arrest and exile.
A study of Hrant Dink’s life reveals that the story of the Tuzla Camp, its creation and its seizure by the Turkish authorities, the childhood labor invested and the earthly heaven (Hrant’s ATLANTIS) created there, left a deep scar on his psyche that went on to be the driving force in his years of struggle for the return of Camp Armen, for justice, fairness, freedom of expression, minority rights and true democracy for all Turkish citizens under Turkish law.
On January 19, 2007 Hrant Dink was slain.
The 17 year old teenager assassin, Ogun Samast, was the trigger man. But the murder was committed by the forces of darkness, by Turkish penal code 301, by Deep State in the Republic of Turkey.
Hrant’s struggle partially paid off. On October 27, 2015 Camp Armen was returned to the Gedik Pasa Armenian Evangelical Church in Istanbul.
But 101 years after the Genocide and 10 years after Dink’s assassination the Turkish State still lies in a deep coma of denial.
We share Dink’s values of justice, fairness, freedom of expressions and true democracy in the land he justifiably called home.
We thank God for the legacy and bow to the memory of the martyred hero.
We firmly believe that his blood was not shed in vain and his voice will never be silenced!
AMAA Executive Director/CEO
Hrant Dink’s 11/05/06 Address United Armenian Congregational Church, Hollywood, CA
Տարեգլուխ է կրկին:
Մարդկային կեանքի եւ պատմութեան անիւի հոլովոյթով, անհատապէս եւ ազգովին տարի մը եւս բոլորած ըլլալու խոկումի եւ խորհրդածութեան հայելիին առջեւ կը գտնուինք: Հետեւաբար անյարիր չէ մտքերը հրապարակաւ արտայայտել: Քննարկման անհրաժեշտութեան հրամայականը մտքի մարզանք չէ այլ յենած տարուայ մը եւս փոrձաութեան վրայ, ազգային ուղեւորութեան ճանապարհին յարկ եղած բարեփոխումներու ձգտումին գիտակցութիւն է:
Աշխարհագրականօրէն Հայ ժողովուրդի պատմութեան այս հանգրուանի ծանօթ երեք յենարաններն են՝ Հայաստանի Հանրապետութիւնը, Արցախի Հանրապետութիւնը եւ տարաշխարհով տարտղնուած Սփիւռքահայութիւնը:
Ահաւասիկ համառօտ ակնարկ մը սոյն յենարաններուն:
Ա. 2016ը Հայաստանի երրորդ հանրապետութեան անկախութեան քսանհինգամեակն էր: Պատշաճօրէն՝ հայրենիքի եւ սփիւռքի տարածքին տպաւորիչ զինուորական տողանցքով եւ բազմաթիւ փայլուն հանդիսութիւններով յիշատակուեցաւ պատմականօրէն մանուկ այս հանրապետութեան տարեդարձը: Սեպտեմբեր 21ի երեկոյան Երեւանի մարզահամալիրի փառաւոր հանդիսութեան, ՀՀ Նախագահի արտասանած խօսքը անզուգական նկարագրութիւն մըն էր այն իտեալ հայրենիքին զոր բոլորս կը փաղձանք: Հայաստանի քաղաքացիին իրաւունքներու եւ ազատութիւններու նկարագրութիւնը մարմին փշաքաղող դասագրքային շարահիւսութիւն էր: Իրականացնելու համար ժողովրդավար եւ զարգացած երկրի մը մէջ անհրաժեշտութիւն եղող ընկերային արդարութիւնը եւ տնտեսական բարեկեցութիւնը, կը մնայ հաւաքական ջանքերով եւ պահանջքներով իրականացնել բոլոր այդ գեղեցիկ իրաւունքներու կիրարկումը երկրին մէջ: Երկրի նոր վարչապէտը այդ իրաւունքներու ցանկէն անպայման օրինակ մը ունենալու է իր գրասեղանին վրայ: Քաղաքացին, պայքարելու եւ պահանջելու հարկանդրանքին տակ գտնուելու չէ վայելելու համար սահամանադրականօրէն իրը եղող որեւէ իրաւունք: Հայրենիքի պաշտպանութեան համար սահմանները հսկող եւ կամ իր արիւնը յեղող քաղաքացին տէր է այդ իրաւունքին: Նմանապէս իր հարկերը կանոնաւորապէս վճառող քաղաքացիին բնական իրաւունքն է հեզասահ կերպով վայելել մարդկային իրաւունքներու գեղեցիկ փունջը զոր երկրի սահմանադրութիւնը ապահոված: Այս իրաւունքներու ծիրին մէջ է նաեւ օրէնքի արդար եւ հաւասար կիրարկումը բոլոր քաղաքացիներու վրայ առանց խտրականութեան զոր կաշառակերութեան, փտածութեան եւ ինքնահարստացման դէմ պայքարի առաջնահերթ միջոցն է:
Հայրենիքի հողին վրայ գտնուող ամէնաթանկագին հարստութիւնը երկրի քաղաքացին է: Անոր գոհունակութիւնը, պատիւն ու արժանապատուութիւնը երաշխիքն է հայրենիքի յարատեւութեան, գոյութեան եւ զարգացման: Պետութեան կողքին, հզօր հայրենիքի մը ապահով սահմաններուն մէջ գոհունակ քաղաքացիութեան մը ապահովումը նաեւ իմ եւ քու պարտաւորութիւնն է, մեր հաւաքական յանձնառութիւնը եւ աշխատանքը զոր մեզմէ կը պահանջուի առանց պայմանի, առեւտուրի կամ վարձատրութեան:
Ուրիշ ելք չկա’յ:
Բ. 2016ին Արցախի Հանրապետութիւնը եւս յիշատակեց իր անկախութեան քսանհինգամեակը: Հակառակ տօնախմբութեան մթնոլորտին եւ ոգիին, Արցախը՝ Ապրիլեան քառօրեայ պատերազմի փորձառութեամբ նորոգուած ցաւով կը մնայ խոցելի: Արեւելեան ճակատի ոսոխին անակնկալ եւ վայրագ յարձակումին պատճառած աղետը երկար դարմանումի կարօտ է: Ամէնափոքր վնասն եւ մէկ զոհն իսկ շատ է մեզի համար: Համահայկական ընդոստ նեցուկը թէեւ մխիթարական է, սակայն թշնամիին նենգ եւ դաւադիր դիրքը կը մնայ լուրջ սպառնալիք: Արցախը մեր անսակարկելի ճակատն է, արժանի ամէն զոհողութեան եւ նեցուկի: Արցախը մեր Աւարայրն ու Սարտարապատն է: Արցախեան ճակատը, Հայաստանի գոյութեան, հզօրութեան եւ գերիշխանութեան գրաւականն է, անսասան թումբը եւ անխախտելի գիծը: Մեր բոլորին բնական եւ տրամաբանական ակնկալութիւնն է որ Պետութիւն եւ իշխանութիւն ի Հայաստան եւ Արցախ պէտք եղած բարեփոխութիւնները կատարելագործած ըլլան Ապրիլեան ճակատումի որպէս արդիւնք ի յայտ եկած եւ սերտուած բացթողումներու փոռձարութենէն:
Գիտակից ենք թէ վերջերս Արցախեան տագնապը լուծելու փորձերը աշխուժացած իսկ ճնշումները հայկական կողմին վրայ ուժեղացած են: Ճշմարիտ է նաեւ թէ սերունդներ շարունակ պատերազմի սպառնալիքին տակ պահելը անփաղձալի է: Այդ վիճակը կրնայ ժողովուրդի մը ստեղծագործելու եւ արդիւնաբերելու կարողականութիւնը ջլատել իսկ անոր Աստուածատուր խաղաղ եւ արժանավայել կեանք մը ապրելու արդար իրաւունքը զլանալ: Ամէն սակարկութիւն սակայն եւ ակնկալուած զիջում ազգային ռազմագիտական անկիւնէ սահմանուած գին մը ունի որը կարելի չէ խախտել: Մեր երկրի ղեկավարները պարտին գիտնալ զոհողութեան եւ զիջումի այդ սահմանը եւ այդ գիտակցութեամբ մտնեն բանակցութեան տաղաւարը: Խաղաղութեան ճանապարհը սուրբ է եւ փշոտ: Հարկ է սրբութեամբ մօտենալ այդ ճանապարհին վրայ մեր կարողականութեան համոզումին եւ կարելիութիւններու եւ միջոցարումներու ինքնավստահութեան: Արցախեան ազատագրութեան ճանապարհը որոգուած է նահատակ ազատամարտիկներու արիւնով, որեւէ լուծում այդ զոհողութեան արդար գինը նժարի վրայ դնելու է:
Հաւաքաբար պատրաստ պէտք է ըլլանք տագնապի լուծման արդար գինը պարտադրող լուծումին:
Ուրիշ ելք չկա’յ:
Գ. Սփիւռքահայութեան կազմաւորման, հաւաքական կարողականութեան, հայապահապանումի, ֆիզիքական գոյութեան պայքարի, ստեղծուած նոր գաղութներու, լեզուի եւ մշակոյթի պահպանումի, հայրենիքի եւ Արցախի նկատմամբ նուիրագործուած միաձոյլ ճակատ մը կազմելու եւ այլ մտահոգութիւններու տուն տուող հարցերը բազմաթիւ են: Թաւալող տագնապներ՝ որոնք կը ժառանգուին սերունդէ սերունդ:
Հինգ տարի է սակայն որ հայ ժողովուրդը կ’ապրի եւ կը դիմագրաւէ Սփիւռքահայութեան արմատները խախտող եւ գոյութեան սպառնացող յետ Եղեռնեան ամէնամեծ Ազգային Աղէտը: Սուրիահայութեան տագնապին, Սփիւռքահայ Մայր Գաղութի անդամահատումին եւ Սուրիահայ հոծ գաղթականներու անյոյս եւ անմխիթար վիճակին՝ մենք հաւանաբար հարկ եղած լրջութեամբ չմօտեցանք: Այո՝ գոյութիւն քաշքշող սնունդ մը կարողացանք հայթայթել կրակի տակ գտնուողներուն: Գորովագին օժանդակութեամբ թեթեւցուցինք Հայրենիք ապաստան գտնող անկողմնացոյց գաղթականներու ցաւը: Սակայն չկրցանք մեծ պատկերը տեսնել եւ գաղութի քայքայումէն փխած նուազագոյն օգուտը քաղել: Որովհետեւ՝ Սուրիահայութեան տագնապէն փխած բոլոր չարիքներուն դիմաց միայն մէկ մխիթարութիւն եւ ազգային շահ կրնայ ըլլալ՝ անոնց հայրենիք հաստատուիլը եւ հայրենիքը մարդուժով, տաղանդով, մասնագիտութեամբ եւ կարողականութեամբ հարստացնելը: Սուրիան եւ Սուրիահայութիւնը, փրկութեան կարօտ ոգեղէն Արեւմտահայաստանն է եւ մենք եր՞բ որոշեցինք պատմութեան կորսուած էջերուն յանձնել Արեւմտահայաստանը:
Վտանգի նուազումի եւ յարաբերական ապահովութեան վերադարձի մշուշոտ յոյսեր կ’երեւան Սուրիական հորիզոնի վրայ: Հալէպը մանաւանդ, ազատագրուելու վերջին հանգրուանի վրայ ըլլալ կը թուի: Մենք երախտապարտ ենք Սուրիական հայրենիքին՝ որ դար մը շարունակ ապահով ապաստան եւ հովանի պարգեւեց առաջին ցեղասպանութենէն փրկուած հայու բեկորներուն եւ այդ բեկորները իրենց կարգին, երկրագունդի վրայ արտակարգօրէն ծաւալած Սփիւռքահայութեան զարթօնքի աւիշն ու արիւնը հանդիսացան:
Այսօր այդ գաղութի զաւակներէն ոմանք, հաւատարիմ նոր հայրենիքին, հաստատ եւ գիտակից կերպով թերեւս փափաքին շարունակել իրենց կեանքը, վերջ ի վերջոյ օր մը, խելայեղօրէն զարգացումի, վերաշինութեան եւ վերականգնումի ենթակայ ծննդավայրի մը մէջ: Եւ մենք, յարգելով անոնց կամքն ու որոշումը, մղուած մարդկային եւ ազգային պարտաւորութիւններէ, պարտինք սատարել անոնց վերականգնումին: Ժողովուրդի մը կեանքին մէջ սակայն, մի քանի սերունդի բաժանումով անկողմնացոյց երկու բռնագաղթ անկրկնելի մնալու է եւ ուրեմն հարկ է հաւաքուիլ հարազատ հողամասի մը վրայ ուր աւելի տրամաբնօրէն ապահովելի է աղետի անկրկնելիութիւնը:
Հայ Սփիւռքը ընդհանրապէս եւ Սուրիահայ Սփիւռքը յատկապէս հարկ է հաւաքել ապահով, հիւրընկալ եւ գուրգուրալից հայրենիքի մը հողին վրայ:
Ուրիշ ելք չկա՛յ:
Դեկտեմբեր 31, 2016
Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ
Ձեզի, մեզի, Մեծ Աւետիս
Paramus, NJ – In the fall of 2015, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), as part of its Syria Relief efforts, established the Syria LifeLine program to help willing individuals and families who are victims of the war in Syria to resettle in Armenia. These families had little or no money. The AMAA provided them with all the financial and logistical assistance for ground transportation to Lebanon and subsequently a flight to the safety of the Homeland. To date, through AMAA’s Syria LifeLine, 113 Syrian Armenians have arrived at Zvartnotz Airport in Yerevan, where they were welcomed by AMAA-Armenia staff and social workers and escorted to temporary homes and shelters.
AMAA’s Syria Relief efforts are directed to four areas:
- Aid to those who wish to stay in Syria and need assistance
- In conjunction with Armenian Evangelical churches in the communities, aid to those who have found refuge outside the borders of Syria, such as Lebanon and Canada
- Help to those who are forced to leave Syria and willfully wish to relocate in the Homeland
Help settle all those who have arrived in the Homeland.
AMAA’s Relief Programs in Syria provide:
- Food, water, heating and other basic necessities
- Medical assistance
- Educational assistance
- Resettlement in Armenia
AMAA’s Relief Programs in Armenia provide:
- Temporary housing and rent subsidies
- Medical and Dental assistance
- Infant formula
- Entrepreneurship training and job placement support
To coordinate its relief efforts In Armenia, the AMAA cooperates with the Ministry of Diaspora, the Aleppo Compatriotic Union, the Center for Coordination of SyrArmenians’ issues, and the social services departments of the Administrative Districts of the City of Yerevan.
To date, the AMAA has provided over two million dollars for its Syria Relief efforts around the globe. Financial assistance is still needed to ensure our continuous efforts to reach out and help those who are still in Syria and those who are struggling daily to settle in Armenia and re-establish their lives. Your caring gift, no matter how large or small, will help provide much needed relief to these families who have undergone so much suffering and unrest. They are also in need of your daily prayers.
Ամերիկայի Հայ Աւետարանչական Ընկերակցութեան “Syria LifeLine” Ծրագիրը կը հովանաւորէ 113 Սուրիահայերու տեղափոխումը դէպի Հայրենիք
Բըրէմըս, Նիւ Ճըրզի – 2015-ի աշնան, Ամերիկայի Հայ Աւետարանչական Ընկերակցութիւնը (ԱՀԱԸ), Սուրիահայերու Օգնութեան իր ծրագրի ոլորտին, ստեղծեց Syria LifeLine ծրագիրը, օժանդակելու բոլոր անոնց, որոնք Սուրիոյ պատերազմին պատճառով, կամովին կը փափաքէին հաստատուիլ Հայրենիքի մէջ։ Այս ընտանիքները կարիքը ունէին նիւթական օգնութեան իրականացնելու իրենց փափաքն ու երազը։ ԱՀԱԸ-ը օժանդակեց այս ընտանիքներուն նիւթապէս, ինչպէս նաեւ մատուցեց յատուկ կարգադրութիւններ անոնց ցամաքի ճամբով դէպի Լիբանան ուղեւորութեան եւ ապա ապահովելով դէպի Մայր Հայրենիք չուերթը։ Մինչեւ օրս, ԱՀԱԸ-ի սոյն ծրագրին միջոցով 113 Սուրիահայեր արդէն հասած են Երեւանի Զուարթնոց Օդակայանը, ուր շատեր դիմաւորուած են ԱՀԱԸ-ի Հայաստանի մասնաճիւղի պաշտօնեաներուն կողմէ եւ առաջնորդուած ժամանակաւոր բնակարաններ կամ հանրակացարաններ։
ԱՀԱԸ-ի Սուրիահայերու Օգնութեան ջանքերը ուղղուած են՝
- Օժանդակութիւն բոլոր անոնց որոնք կառչած կը մնան Սուրիական հայրենիքին
- Հայ Աւետարանական Եկեղեցիներու հետ համատեղ՝ տուեալ համայնքներու մէջ նիւթապէս եւ
- բարոյապէս օգնել բոլոր անոնց՝ որոնք ապաստան գտած են Սուրիոյ սահմաններէն դուրս այլ
- երկիրներու մէջ՝ ինչպէս Լիբանան եւ Գանատա
- Օժանդակել բոլոր անոնց, որոնք անապահով պայմաններու բերումով կը ձգենՍուրիան եւ կը
- փափաքին հաստատուիլ Հայրենիքի մէջ
- Օժանդակել բոլոր անոնց, որոնք ապաստան գտած են Հայրենիքի մէջ
ԱՀԱԸ-ի Բարեսիրական Ծրագիրը Սուրիոյ մէջ կ՚ապահովէ
- Սնունդ, ջուր, ջեռուցում եւ այլ հիմնական կարիքներ
- Բժշկական ծառայութիւն
- Վերաբնակեցում Հայաստանի մէջ
ԱՀԱԸ-ի Բարեսիրական Ծրագիրը Հայաստանի մէջ կ՚ապահովէ
- Ժամանակաւոր բնակարաններ եւ տան վարձք
- Բժշկական եւ ատամնաբուժական ծառայութիւն
- Մանուկներու յատուկ սնունդ
- Այլեւայլ կարիքներ
- ձեռնարկատիրութեան դասընթացքներ եւ աշխատանքի տեղաւորման աջակցութիւն
Համակարգելու համար Սուրիահայութեան ուղղուած իր բարեսիրական ծրագիրները Հայաստանի մէջ, ԱՀԱԸ-ը կը համագործակցի Սփիւռքի Նախարարութեան, թաղապետարաններու, Սիրիահայերի Հիմնախնդիրները Համակարգող Կեդրոնի եւ ՀԱԼԷՊ Հայրենակցական Բարեսիրական Միութեան հետ։
Ցայսօր՝ ԱՀԱԸ-ը տրամադրած է աւելի քան երկու միլիոն տոլար Սուրիահայերու Օգնութեան իր ծրագիրներուն։ Հակառակ Հալէպի ազատագրման եւ տեղացող մահաբեր ռումբերու անմիջական վտանգի խաբանման, Սուրիահայ գաղութը մեր սիրոյ եւ հոգածութեան կարիքը ունի դիմանալու երկրի մէջ տիրող տնտեսական սուր տագնապին եւ պատրաստուելու վերանորոգման աշխատանքներու մեկնարկին։ Օժանդակութեան կարիքը ունին նաեւ բոլոր անոնք, որոնք տեղափոխուած են Հայաստան, ուր կը պայքարին վերահաստատելու իրենց կեանքը Հայրենիքի մէջ։ Մեր բոլորին նիւթական աջակցութիւնը, հոգ չէ թէ մեծ կամ փոքր, մեծապէս պիտի նպաստէ բոլոր անոնց, որոնք տակաւին կարիքը ունին մեր աջակցութեան՝ ընտանիքներ եւ անհատներ՝ որոնք խիզախօրէն դիմագրաւած են տագնապը եւ տակաւին կը շարունակեն տառապիլ՝ քաղաքական անկայունութիւններու պատճառով։ Վերջապէս, մեր եղբայրները եւ քոյրերը կարիքը ունին նաեւ մեր ամէնօրեայ աղօթքներուն։ Առատաձեռնօրէն շարունակենք նպաստել Սուրիահայ Մայր Գաղութի զաւակներուն՝ կանգուն պահելու համար Եղեռնէն յարութիւն առնող մեր ժողովուրդի առաջին ապաստանարանը։
This Christmas celebrate your connections to the AMAA. Make a gift to remember a loved one, commemorate a special occasion or honor a special person in your life.
As you plan your charitable Christmas giving there are many ways you can support the AMAA. We encourage you to visit our Giving section for the various options.
In the history of the world it is known that the greatest gift ever given is one which is still celebrated today, well over 2,000 years later. Celebrating the birth of Jesus, the light who came into the world, homes are prepared to be filled with love and laughter among family and friends. But for countless individuals, young and old, all over the world, their homes remain unlit and cold.
For many, joy stems from a belief that through faith trouble does not last. Through some of our own experiences, and those of our ancestors, faith encourages us to persevere and experience His blessings of renewal, finding the oasis after many days of having walked through the desert. Faith is the anchor to the cycle of life, knowing that once the long hours of the night’s darkness pass there is hope knowing sunrise will break on the horizon.
It is to situations like this that we are called. The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) remains a beacon of light, carrying forth the promise of joy and hope to those who need to be uplifted. Your support to our annual Christmas appeal is instrumental. Every dollar received is one more student to whom the AMAA can offer a quality education, one more family the AMAA helps leave behind the destruction of Syria and onward to a new life, one more villager provided a livelihood, and one more individual who receives the Good News.
Help us distribute the gifts of love, joy and hope to the individuals served through our programs and services. May we be reminded of our one true hope, as God’s love was revealed among us ”
He sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9) We all have much to celebrate this Season because of God’s extravagant love. May we continue to be His messengers to all those in need.
May God bless you and your family during this Christmas season.
Քրիստոս ծնաւ եւ յայտնեցաւ. ձեզի, մեզի Մեծ Աւետիս!
Krisdos dzenav yev haydnetzav, tsezee, mezee Medz Avedis!
(Christ is born and is revealed, good tidings to you and to us!)
AMAA Executive Director/CEO
The most positive outcome is that drinking water is in the taps since 2012!
In spite of the mentioned developments, shells continue to fall in western Aleppo and especially in the predominantly Christian and non-Christian neighborhoods of Ferkan, Jabriye, Seif Aldawle, Azizieh, Telephone Hawai, Maysalun and Halab Jdide districts.
We are praying for an end to this war and that we will continue to be able to live together as Syrians and not as people belonging to a certain community with little contact with other communities. As Christian believers we need to work on this and continue to be open to all others. We were all created in the image of God.
Rev. Haroutune Selimian, President
Armenian Protestant Community in Syria
Saturday, December 17th at Bloomingdale’s Glendale & South Coast Plaza, CA
In remembrance, we pay tribute to the thousands who perished on that fateful day, 28 years ago, when the northern regions of Armenia shook at 11:41 am from a devastating earthquake.
We thank God for the ability to rebuild and redevelop the affected regions and continue working toward a full recovery. On the occasion of this anniversary, we present AMAA Gyumri Office Manager Mr. Karen Manukyan’s thoughts and reflections, as one who survived this natural disaster.
Today, we’re back on our feet; the devastated towns and villages are lively and vivacious, we hang on to life, continue to create and move ahead. The Lord is our rock and fortress, we trust in Him.
1988 թ… Հայաստանի Հանրապետությունը թևակոխում էր մի ծանր ժամանակաշրջան, պայքարում էր իր փոքր եղբոր՝ Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի անկախության ու ժողովրդի ազատագրման համար: Փորձում էր ինքնուրույնություն ձեռք բերել անծայրածիր թվացող հզոր պետությունների կողքին: Եվ ահա 1988թ., դեկտեմբերի 7, ժամը 11:41, թվում է սովորական ձմեռային կիսացուրտ օր, մարդիկ տարված իրենց առօրյա հոգսերով ապրում են. մեկն իր փոքրիկին տարել է նախակրթարան ու շտապում է աշխատանքի, մյուսներն արդեն պատրաստվում են ընդմիջման գնալ, շատ դպրոցականներ սպասում են, թե երբ է զրնգալու այդքան սպասված դասամիջոցի զանգը, որն այդպես էլ չհնչեց, շատ երիտասարդներ քննություններ են հանձնում բարձրագույն ուսումնական հաստատություններում, շատերը սպասում են, թե երբ են տուն վերադառնալու և ընտանիքի անդամների հետ իրենց տաքուկ հյուրասենյակներում ճաշելու և համեղ զրույց ծավալելու օրվա ընթացքի շուրջ: Բայց ավաղ, 1988թ. դեկտեմբերի 7-ին Շիրակի և Լոռու մարզի բնակիչները զրկվեցին համեղ զրույցից, զրկվեցին իրենց բնակարաններից, զրկվեցին իրենց ընտանիքներից, զրկվեցին իրենց ամենաթանկ և հարազատ մարդկանցից, զրկվեցին երազանքներից:
Armenian Children’s Milk Fund Continues to Make a Lifelong Impact
When it comes to choosing the best source of nutrition for an infant, it is always an individual journey. The Armenian Children’s Milk Fund has assisted thousands of families with their individual circumstances. Purchasing formula can quickly become a financial hardship and the ACMF is committed to helping to ease this burden by providing monthly allotments or on an as-needed basis.
With the support of caring members, such as you, the AMAA can sustain this special program and continue giving a gift of love which lasts a lifetime.
Make Your Gift of Love Today
And Help Give Infants a Healthy Start to Life
Support the Armenian Children’s Milk Fund program at the AMAA. A gift of $25 will feed one infant for one month; $300 will feed a child for one year.
Checks can be made payable to the Armenian Missionary Association of America and sent to: AMAA 31 W. Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652. memo: ACMF
AMAA's Boston area Orphan and Child Care Committee members
On September 29, the exquisite Wellesley Country Club was the setting for the AMAA Boston Area Orphan and Child Care Committee’s 25th Anniversary In The Spirit of Giving Gala.
Committee Chair Michele Simourian proudly welcomed the largest crowd ever for this event. The elegant dining room was decorated with tables all in gold and white, lit by softly gleaming chandeliers, and bedecked with flowers. Esteemed national Co-Chair of the Orphan and Child Care Committee Joyce Stein then inspired guests with her very personal memories of the children and families who have been helped over the years by the AMAA.
Following a delicious dinner, Committee member Joyce Janjigian introduced talented celebrity guest auctioneer and WBZ and WCCO radio talk show host Jordan Rich, who kept the laughter flowing. Among the items auctioned were tickets to the Boston Pops Christmas, the Boston Ballet Nutcracker, a tour of the State House with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, lunch with County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Bruins and Red Sox tickets, and exciting hotel stays. The wine pull delighted the vast majority, and quite a few lucky ladies left the event eager to wear their Armenian silk scarves designed by Anet.
The event closed with a heartfelt thanks to all the Committee members who were presented with gifts of beautiful Armenian artwork and elegant beaded scarves. These items were donated by the family of an Armenian survivor and orphan, who like so many, truly value and appreciate the continuing efforts of the AMAA Orphan and Child Care Committee.
Below is the most recent update the AMAA has received from Rev. Haroutune Selimian, President of the Armenian Protestant Community in Syria. We ask that you continue to keep our brothers and sisters in your prayers.
Since the month of April 2016, Aleppo has been going through a hellish war, which just seems to be getting worse and worse.
I’m writing this, as we see shells continue falling on civilian areas where there is not a single gun pointing at anybody. This has been the case for long and we have been through far too many funerals and seen too many people leave for safer areas. Five days ago the shelling didn’t stop for a minute and we actually sent all our students back to their homes as the schools were being targeted.
With the continuous aid from the West the ‘anti-government forces’ are getting more and more sophisticated weapons, although that area is supposed to be under siege. We wonder!
Latest developments: Syrian Army and rebels were locked in fierce clashes Sunday on the western edges of Aleppo, where 38 civilians have been killed in two days of opposition rocket fire. Among those killed over the two-day period were 14 children.
Another 250 civilians have been wounded in heavy bombardment by anti-government factions since Friday morning. The barrage is part of a major assault by rebels and allied jihadists to break a three-month government siege of Aleppo’s Eastern half, where more than 250,000 people still live. Rebel fighters have launched hundreds of rockets and shells onto the Western districts from positions inside the city and on its Western edges.
The rebels were trying to push East from the Dhaiyet al-Assad district –most of which they seized in the first day of the onslaught –towards Hamdaniyeh. (Hamdaniyeh is a regime-held district directly adjacent to opposition controlled Eastern neighborhoods.)
Fighting lasted all night and into Sunday morning, with air strikes and artillery fire along the western battlefronts heard even in the eastern districts.
Plumes of smoke could be seen snaking up from the city’s skyline. The offensive has seen an estimated 1,500 opposition fighters mass on the Western edges of Aleppo since Friday. They include local Aleppo rebels and reinforcements from Idlib province to the West, among them the jihadist Fateh al-Sham Front, which changed its name from Al-Nusra Front after breaking ties with Al-Qaeda.
We stick to our faith and work for peace in our country and a future for our people. We continue to pray that the violence will cease and the reconciliation process will start.
We want to continue to live in this wonderful country and we want to see the country re-established as soon as possible. We love Syria! We do not want to see the country destroyed. We believe that we can build a new Aleppo and a new Syria on a strong foundation. We continue to hope and pray.
We look forward to seeing the world cry out for peace in the Middle East. We certainly need one!
Rev. Haroutune Selimian, President
Armenian Protestant Community in Syria
Syrian ‘Lifeline’ Families Arriving in Yerevan
The AMAA’s focal point rests in our ‘Syria Lifeline’ to help families resettle in Armenia.
We have resettled dozens of Syrian Armenian families to the safety of the Homeland and continue to do so.
AMAA Sponsorship Program at the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School
Milena’s favorite subject at school is math. She is a first grader attending the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School. Coming to school every day is a joy for her.
Her father, a deliveryman, suffers from severe joint pain and is unable to fully provide for the family of seven who all live in a partially built one floor home, which is in need of extensive renovations. Her mother is unemployed and is the primary caretaker of the children and grandparents.
Constructed in the impoverished sector of Yerevan (Malatya-Sepastya), the School provides free education to 368 students in grades 1-11 and 50 kindergarteners. In June 2017 the School will be graduating its first class of eleventh graders bound for University or other higher education.Over the years, the school has won multiple academic awards, a testament to its excellence in education. Noteworthy recent accomplishments include: four students placing second in the 10th Chess Olympiad for Armenian schoolchildren, essay of Zaven Antonyan (9th grade) was selected and sent to the Universal Postal Union in a competition of essays titled Write a letter to you at the age of 45 and the Avedisian School hosting a European Youth Parliament session.
Clockwise from middle left to right: Joseph and Joyce Stein, Sona Khanjian and AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian, ROA Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian, AMAA President, Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, Haigazian University Trustee Chair, Dr. Ani Darakjian, founding President of Haigazian University Honoree Rev. Dr. John and Mrs. Inge Markarian
AMAA 97th ANNUAL MEETING BANQUET: FAITHFUL TO OUR LEGACY
After a few days of 97th Annual Meeting related activities, hosted by the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church in Havertown, PA, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) held its 97th Annual Meeting Banquet on Saturday, October 22nd, honoring three distinguished individuals: Albert Momjian, Esq., former President of the AMAA (posthumously), Honorable Set Momjian, former US Representative to the United Nations and Rev. Dr. John Markarian, founding President of Haigazian University.
Leading the program, Master of Ceremonies, Mark A. Momjian, Esq. brought a unique sense of humor and warmth to the event, welcoming the nearly 200 guests and acknowledging the legacy each honoree and the AMAA has left over the past 97 years throughout the world. Special video presentations were made, providing a glimpse of the very full lives of each honoree. Another video, produced by Tina Stein Segel, highlighted one of the AMAA’s newer ministries, the ‘Shogh Day Center’ program the AMAA runs in Armenia which illustrated its work in action.
The Honorable ROA Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian made a special presentation, encouraging the efforts of the AMAA to continue and he warmly recognized another pillar of the community, Ms. Wilma Cholakian, Administrative Dean at Haigazian University from 1985-1995.
Throughout the evening, musical entertainment was provided by the very lovely and gifted soprano Anush Avetisyan who performed Armenian and classical opera pieces.
AMAA President Dr. Nazareth Darakjian and Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO thank Rev. Nishan Bakalian, Committee Co-chairs Thomas Momjian, Esq. and Eileen Chopourian Stephey, Ed.D, Committee Members and all delegates of the Armenian Evangelical Churches, Unions, Armenian Evangelical World Council, AMAA Committees and affiliated organizations for their hard work and support in making this another successful and memorable affair!
Benefiting from Rev. Haroutune Selimian’ s visit to Paramus, NJ, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) organized an event on October 26, 2016 at the Armenian Presbyterian Church in Paramus, NJ to hear updates on Aleppo.
Rev. Selimian is the President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria and Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Bethel Church in Aleppo.
During the five-year war, which continues to be in escalation mode, Rev. Selimian has been with his flock suffering together the hardship and supporting them morally and spiritually every day.
Rev. Berj Gulleyan, Pastor of the Armenian Presbyterian Church, opened the evening with a prayer.
In his opening remarks, Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA, noted that the Western mainstream media recently hyped the reporting of the agony of the 250,000 Syrians living in Aleppo’s East side under the control of extremists. The media however ignored the five-year plight of the 1,250,000 people under government control who suffer from the daily barrages of rockets and mortars with no running water and no power.
Mr. Khanjian noted “now that we know ‘Where is Aleppo’ and ‘What is Aleppo’ it may be time to ask the question ‘How is Aleppo, all of Aleppo?’” He mentioned the continuous financial help that the AMAA has been extending to the Armenian community in Aleppo since the economic machine stopped because of the conflict.
He added that for those Syrian Armenians who are willing and unable, the AMAA has introduced the ‘Syria Lifeline’ program which manages their move and covers all transportation costs to the Homeland. Mr. Khanjian commended Rev. Selimian’s courage and sacrifice daily risking his life shepherding the flock in the divided war torn city.
A video followed the presentation. The first part depicted ‘before and after’ pictures of institutions, structures, buildings, Armenian churches and schools in Aleppo, Kessab and Der Zor which show the horrible destruction. This part of the video also showed pictures of many Armenian victims of the war.
The second part was an illustration of the fervent life of the faithful at Sunday Church services, Sunday schools, children’s choir, youth groups and ladies’ guild activities as well as Kindergarten, Elementary and Secondary students in classrooms and at leisure. The video concluded with pictures of social services; food and water distribution, household essentials, cooking gas, clothing and shoes, monetary subsidies to families in need, Christmas and Easter packages, pajamas and toys to children and the Bethel Polytechnic, family visitations by the pastor, visitation to the Armenian old aged home, the orphanage, etc.
Rev. Selimian then spoke and reminded the guests that this is not the first time that the Armenian nation has endured a catastrophe like this. He said these experiences make people stronger in their faith and get closer to each other
He stated that without the help of the AMAA, none of the good shown in the video would happen. Because of the AMAA aid, institutional structural damage is immediately repaired, teachers are paid their full salary and bonuses to cover currency devaluation and the children’s’ tuition is paid.
Rev. Selimian elaborated on all the programs that were shown in the video. He stated that Christians believe that all people are created with the image of God. With this conviction some help is also distributed to local neighbors who suffer under the circumstances. He said ministers extend a shoulder for people to cry on, visit families of victims and perform funeral after funeral. Rev. Selimian expressed confidence that someday we shall see the Armenian churches rebuilt with the return of peace as there is always the hope of sunrise after darkness.
Mr. Khanjian ended the evening stressing that the vibrant and peaceful oasis amidst the desert of death and destruction in Aleppo is only achieved through the grace of God. He appealed to the audience to continue their steadfast support of the Armenian community in Aleppo. He said, “It is our spiritual, national and humanitarian duty to do so.”
Following Rev. Gulleyan’s closing prayer a reception followed.
The AMAA is thankful to all those who responded to Mr. Khanjian’s call for support; $12,000 was raised for needy Syrian Armenian families. A special thank you to George Khorozian, who donated $10,000 which was raised in honor of his 70th birthday.
Come and Learn How Aleppo is Coping
Wednesday, October 26th
Rev. Haroutune Selimian is the President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria and has lived through the Syrian crisis for the past five years.
Rev. Selimian is the courageous leader shepherding the flock, injecting hope and overlooking the safety and well-being of the community.
His seat is in Aleppo, the crucified war torn city, center of worldwide attention and cradle of the vibrant Syrian Armenian community, descendants of the survivors of the Genocide in 1915.
All members and friends welcome – please share and extend invitation to any and all who are interested!
Rev. Haroutune Selimian
President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria
CHILD AND ORPHAN CARE COMMITTEE HONORED
By Joyce Abdulian & Phyllis Hamo
On Saturday, October 8 at the Jonathan Club of Los Angeles, more than 300 guests gathered to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Child and Orphan Care Committee of the Armenian Missionary Association of America.
Co-Chairs Gary Phillips and Jack Muncherian welcomed the audience and introduced Master of Ceremonies Paul Kalemkiarian, Jr. who led the evening in celebration. Generous sponsors contributed $3.4M.
Dr. Lisa Karamardian’s heartfelt devotional and prayer were followed by a summary of AMAA outreach programs by President Dr. Nazareth Darakjian who outlined this kick-off event of the AMAA Centennial Celebration and its $20M Campaign. He mentioned that, through the efforts of the AMAA’s Child & Orphan Care Committee, the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of the orphans were being met and that schools and educational programs were a top priority.
Musical entertainment was provided by the Greg Hosharian Quartet which performed original and electrifying renditions of Armenian classic and folk music. A video, produced by Tina Stein Segel, highlighted and recognized the founding members of the AMAA Orphan and Child Care Committee, established in 1991. The founders honored were Joyce Abdulian, Elizabeth Agbabian, Hermine Janoyan, Grace Kurkjian, Mary Najarian, Joyce Stein, and Savey Tufenkian of Los Angeles, Juliette Abdulian of Chicago, Rosette Tootikian of Detroit, Michele Simourian of Boston and Mary Jane (MJ) Hekemian of New Jersey.
AMAA Executive Director/CEO Zaven Khanjian reported significant donations to the AMAA of three million dollars toward the Centennial Kick Off Campaign–—one million dollars each by Drs. Nazareth and Ani Darakjian, The Stephen Philibosian and Conte Foundations, and a donor establishing “The Papken and Helen Mugrditchian Endowment Fund.”
Mr. Khanjian noted that the future of the Homeland is in the hands of the orphans we have supported. He expressed his appreciation to the founding ladies: “…whose determined action 25 years ago made history, embarking on a major change in the direction of the AMAA and our Homeland, Armenia.” He added, “It was the reputable, credible, and righteous foundation on which, through the 25 years of Armenia’s independence, the AMAA has built an empire of benevolence all over the country.”
National Co-Chair of the Child and Orphan Care Committee, Joyce Stein, shared her personal testimony and family history with the AMAA, stating that the first AMAA Endowment was established by her father, Stephen Philibosian, in 1950. She expressed her appreciation for the multi-talented young women on the committee, and commended their extraordinary efforts for the highly successful annual Child and Orphan Care Children’s Fashion Show/Silent Auction fund-raiser. More than five million dollars has been raised over the past 25 years. Members of the event committee, Lori Muncherian and Arsine Phillips, honored the Child and Orphan Care volunteers with framed, original paintings created by children of Armenia.
The program concluded with the benediction song, “God Bless America,” and the evening emerged a rousing success. It was a solid kick-off for the AMAA Centennial campaign.
L to R: Drs. Nurhan and Celeste Helvacian, Zaven Khanjian, Victoria and Ambassador Grigor Hovhannissian, Sona Khanjian, Gary and Arine Phillips
On September 28, representatives of AMAA participated in the Celebration of Armenia’s 25th Independence Day at the Hall of the Americas in Washington, DC, organized by the Embassy of Armenia to the United States under the auspices of the Armenia Fund. Over 400 guests attended the event representing various Armenian and non-Armenian organization and churches.
Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Grigor Hovhannissian welcomed the guests and spoke about the key role of those who paved the way for U.S.-Armenia relations. Armenia Fund President Maria Mehranian served as the Master of Ceremonies, with special remarks from Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), as well as Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA).
By Rev. Dr. Paul Hadostian
On the occasion of the 170th anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church an all-Armenian Evangelical Pastors’ Retreat took place on September 22-24, 2016 at the AMAA’s Sheen-Shoghig Conference Center in Hankavan, Armenia, attended by 80 pastors from North America, Europe, the Middle East Armenia, Karabagh and Russia. The task of coordination and leadership of the conference was ably executed by Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian and assisting pastors in Armenia.
The title of the conference “Our Relationships” focused on the challenges of I Thessalonians 5:24. The program included worship and fellowship hours, prayer times, lectures and cultural programs. One such example was the special performance of the Armenian dance group of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Vanatzor, with poetry by Pastor Senig Saripekyan, vocal performance by Maretta Antonyan and the praise team of the church.
The preacher at the opening worship was Rev. George Dabbo, and a special greeting was given by the CEO/Executive Director of the AMAA, Mr. Zaven Khanjian, and the concluding communion service was led by Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian and Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian.
The five sub-themes of the conference were as follows: Rev. Mgrdich Karagoezian spoke on the “Pastor’s Relationship with the Church”; Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian spoke on the “Pastor’s Relationship with other Pastors”; Rev. Berdj Jambazian spoke on the “Pastor’s Relationship with his Mission”; Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian spoke on the “Pastor’s Relationship with his Surroundings”; Rev. Joel Mikaélian spoke on the “Pastor’s Relationship with his Family”; and finally Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian, who spoke on the “Pastor’s Relationship with God”.
The participants valued the new friendships developed, the prayerful learning that took place, the common identity formation that was fostered, and the brotherly atmosphere that was created.
At its Annual Banquet, to be held Saturday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott West, 111 Crawford Avenue, West Conshohocken, PA, the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) will honor three distinguished individuals, Albert Momjian, Esq. (posthumously), Set Momjian and Rev. Dr. John Markarian, for their many years of faithful and dedicated service to the Armenian Community. The theme of the AMAA Banquet will be Faithful to the Legacy.
Albert Momjian, Esq., who passed away July 11, 2016, served the AMAA as a member of the Board, on various committees and as Board President. His astute and wise leadership, dedicated and sacrificial service, focused and undivided attention, uncountable gratuitous professional services and boundless Christian love all contributed to the recent history of the AMAA. The AMAA is what it is and where it is today because of his towering presence at the helm of the organization for so long.
For many years, Set Momjian audaciously served the Armenian Community at large in the United States. His love of Christ and his people was instrumental in raising Armenian national interest to the highest levels of attention in the White House and to the political leadership of the country. His service as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations General Assembly, as the White House Representative to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, as a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and his fervent struggle as a human rights activist have earned him the reverence and respect of his people all across the globe.
In 1955, the AMAA, with the collaboration of the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, established Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon. Rev. Dr. John Markarian’s pioneer leadership as the founding President of this jewel educational institution, the one and only Armenian University in the Diaspora, had a tremendous role in the overwhelming success of this beacon of light, educating young men and women, preparing a leadership in the Middle East, exporting well rounded professionals across the oceans and dispersing ignorance and darkness wherever its rays rested upon.
The Banquet’s Master of Ceremonies will be Mark Momjian, Esq. Mr. Momjian is a graduate of Columbia Law School. He is an active leader in the Armenian-American community, having served on boards with the Armenian Assembly of America, the Armenian Missionary Association of America, and the Armenian Sisters Academy. For the past four years, Mr. Momjian has served as a member of the United States Advisory Committee of the Jinishian Memorial Program.
The Banquet will also feature Soprano Anush Avetisyan, a third-year Resident Artist at the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia studying with Voice Instructor Bill Schuman. Ms. Avetisyan has performed internationally throughout North America, Europe and the Middle East.
The 97th Annual Meeting of the AMAA will be held on Saturday, October 22 at 9:30 a.m. at the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church of Havertown, PA. All AMAA members are encouraged to participate and to review both the activities and the financial reports of the Association.
The Annual Meeting Worship of Praise will be held on Sunday, October 23, at the Armenia Martyrs’ Congregational Church of Havertown, PA at 11:00 a.m. The service will include a moment of remembrance dedicated to those AMAA members who concluded their earthly pilgrimage during the past year and joined the heavenly audience. The service will conclude with the installation of the newly elected Board Members.
The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) serves the spiritual, educational and social needs of Armenian communities around the world. The AMAA was founded in 1918 in Worcester, MA and was incorporated in New York in 1920. The AMAA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Those who are interested in attending the AMAA Banquet or participating in the Annual Meeting activities may contact AMAA Headquarters at 201-265-2607.
On September 22, RA Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan received the delegation of the Armenian Evangelical World Council and the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), who were in Armenia to attend the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Independence of Armenia and to celebrate the 170th Anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church in the Motherland.
Minister Hakobyan welcomed the guests and extended congratulations on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence and the 170th anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church. She said: “I am glad that you are in Armenia these days when we proudly celebrate the 25th anniversary of our independence. In the achievements during the 25 years of our independence, I would like to stress three of them. The first is the existence of the two Armenian Republics, the second is our powerful military establishment, and the third, the creation of institutional structures that have been successfully cooperating with international organizations.”
Minister Hakobyan highly appreciated the invaluable role of the Diaspora during the difficult days of the establishment of an independent statehood and expressed her gratitude for the contribution of the Armenian Evangelical Church. The Minister also stressed the huge role of Haigazian University, the only Armenian institution of higher education in the Diaspora.
Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian, the President of the Armenian Evangelical World Council thanked the Minister for her warm words of appreciation and said: “More than obligation, it’s a joy for the members of the Armenian Evangelical Church to help the Homeland. We are seeing the tangible achievements during the past 25 years, and the dedication and the efforts of the young generation in keeping the Homeland with their blood and sweat.”
Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of AMAA said: “The Armenian Missionary Association of America has an undivided and enduring commitment towards Armenia and is ready to do everything possible in order to achieve as quick as possible to a strong Homeland that we all dream of.”
Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, the Executive Director of the Armenian Evangelical World Council, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, President of Haigazian University, Rev. Haroutune Selimian, the President of the Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria and others also expressed their appreciation.
In closing, Minister Hakobyan wished success to the jubilee Celebration of the 170th Anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church, which will take place in the Aram Khachadourian Music Hall on Sunday, September 25.
The newly constructed Bezjian Family Building at the C & E Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School in Sherman Oaks, California opened its doors to students for the first time on August 18, 2016. This beautiful 6,840 sq. ft. modern building offers state-of-the-art facilities to the School’s students. It encompasses five classrooms, a library, science lab, art room and an office for the athletic coach. Children and teachers alike were very excited to see their new, tastefully decorated classrooms. Each classroom is in the process of being equipped with the latest in technology to enhance the students’ learning experience.
On July 19, 2016, benefactors Mr. Albert and Mrs. Terry Bezjian who were visiting from Michigan, toured the newly completed building and were impressed with its quality of construction, functionality and elegance.
The School is pleased to offer its supporters with the opportunity to name classrooms in honor of loved ones. For information, please contact Board Members Dr. Ivan Shnorhokian at (412) 759-2020, or Dr. Vahe Nalbandian at (818) 507-9848.
Founded in 1982 and located in Sherman Oaks, CA, C & E Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School is the first Armenian Evangelical educational institution in the United States. Over the past thirty-four years, the dream of a few visionary Armenian Evangelicals has grown into a preschool through eighth grade middle school.
The Merdinian School believes that the integration of the educational efforts of the home, the church, and the school is basic to the development of each child’s fullest potential. To learn more about the School visit their website at www.merdinianschool.com
It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news of the passing of Rev. Emmanuel Darakjian, father of Dr. Nazareth Darakjian, AMAA President, on Monday evening, August 22, 2016 at his home in Chicago, IL.
Rev. Emmanuel Darakjian has served the Lord for many decades as an educator and minister in Syria and Lebanon. He moved to the United States with his family in 1975 and settled in Chicago. Rev. Darakjian was featured in the “Meet our Veteran Pastors” segment of the Jan-Feb-March 2016 AMAA News. (Click here to View Article – page 5)
Those who wish to convey their condolences to the Darakjian family in person are welcome to do so at one of the following services:
Visitation, 9:00 am on Friday, August 26, 2016 followed by the
Funeral service, 10:00 am on Friday, August 26, 2016
Chicago Armenian Evangelical Church
Mount Prospect, IL 60056
Mr. Curtis and Mrs. Arpy Sahakian, Skokie, IL
Drs. Nazareth and Ani Darakjian, La Canada, IL
-Drs. Hrair and Nadia Darakjian, Tarzana, CA
-Ms. Suzy Darakjian, Chicago, IL
and by his brother and his wife: Rev. & Mrs. Barkev and Agnes Darakjian of Glendale, CA
As we mourn the passing of Rev. Emmanuel Darakjian, we rejoice in his life and find consolation in the Hope of the Resurrection.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news of the passing of Past Board Member Charles (Chuck) Bilezikian, of Osterville and Boston, MA and Palm Beach, FL, on July 26, 2016.
Mr. Bilezikian faithfully served the Armenian Missionary Association of America as a Board Member and benefactor.
The funeral service will be held 11:00 am on Friday, July 29th at:
Belmont, MA 02478
The burial will follow the worship service at Newton Cemetery, Newton, MA.
A memorial luncheon will take place in the First Armenian Church Hall right after the burial service.
A celebration of Chuck’s life will be held 11:00 am on Thursday, August 18th, at the First Congregational Church, 329 Route 6A, Yarmouthport, MA.
He was the loving and devoted husband of Doreen (Portnoy) Bilezikian to whom he was married for 52 years. Chuck attended the public schools in Newton, MA and graduated from Suffolk University. Following graduation he began a lifelong career in retail. In 1970 he bought a small seasonal business on Cape Cod called The Christmas Tree Shops as a means of supporting his young family. He and his family worked long hours to make the company grow from a small seasonal company to a thriving year-round business which grew to become one of the premiere shopping destinations in the Northeast.
Chuck lived life joyfully and to the fullest. He was inquisitive about everything and everyone around him. He was devoted to his family. He and Doreen traveled the world together. He loved to celebrate his birthday and he especially loved Christmas. He was engaging, enthusiastic, thoughtful, loyal and generous. He was loved by all who knew him and admired for his honesty, integrity and humor. His handshake was his word. His family was his life. His love and special legacy will live on in the countless memories his family and his many friends will carry in their hearts.
Chuck is survived by his wife Doreen, a son Gregory of Hyannisport, MA and his children Lindsay, Kate, Chad and Mia; and a son Jeffrey, and his wife Nancy, of Watertown, MA and Osterville, MA and their children Beatrice and Frieda, along with nieces Krista, Kelly and Kim and nephew Jay.
The Bilezikian Family have been long-standing supporters of AMAA’s mission and projects, in Armenia & Karabagh, including: the Krikor and Beatrice Bilezikian Kindergarten in Shoushi, the Krikor and Beatrice Bilezikian Elementary Building at the Khoren & Shooshanig Avedisian School and Community Center in Yerevan, Camp Sheen-Shoghig in Hankavan, AMAA Dental Clinic and the renovation of the Margaryan Hospital.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made by check to: The Charles Bilezikian Memorial Fund, c/o The Cape Cod Foundation, 259 Willow Street, Yarmouthport, MA 02675 or online at CapeCodFoundation.org and mention The Charles Bilezikian Memorial Fund.
In The Spirit of Giving Gala to Benefit Children in Crisis
The Boston Area Orphan and Child Care Committee of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) will Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its In the Spirit of Giving Gala, a Wine and Dine Fundraising Event. The event will take place on Thursday, September 29, 2016, 7 pm at the Wellesley Country Club, Wellesley, MA. The Dinner will feature a Live Auction, Wine Pull and Bling Raffle, with special performance by renowned pianist Levon Hovsepian. All proceeds from the event will benefit Armenian children in crisis. Individuals or businesses wishing to donate goods or services, or those wishing to purchase tickets for the event may do so by contacting Dianne Chilingerian at firstname.lastname@example.org
Founded in 1918, the AMAA is a nonprofit, charitable organization that provides services to underprivileged youth through education, relief and mission ministries. AMAA is a nonsectarian Christian organization that renders its services to those in need without discrimination. AMAA operates in twenty four countries and often partners with other relief agencies to aid disaster stricken areas throughout the world. For additional information, you may visit www.amaa.org
What a blessing to be of service to the people of Armenia for the last eight years and we thank the Lord for all who have ventured along with us.
This year we had an enormous Medical Mission Team with 45 individuals from the US and Canada and nine Armenian translators. This was the largest team to date and although we were a bit apprehensive about the size and the ability to handle such a large group, we knew God had a plan. Little did we know that the fledging Evangelical Church congregation of Sisian had been praying that the medical team would come to their city. At the same time, three new physicians contacted us and said they were interested in joining the team after we had closed the application process. We couldn’t say no as these additional physicians allowed us to go to another region in southern Armenia. We had wanted to do this in prior years, but found that we didn’t have the manpower to split into two teams. Through God’s divine intervention the Sisian church prayers helped our dream become a reality. This year’s team included nine physicians, two dentists, a chiropractor, a pharmacist, three nurses and a very willing group of ancillary workers eager to serve the Armenian people.
We began the week setting up a complete ambulatory clinic within the Evangelical Church in Vanadzor. The clinic provided a laboratory and diagnostic testing with an ultrasound and EKG. Other services included a reading glasses station and medical education by our nurses. Our dentists educated the youth on dental hygiene and treated them with fluoride. After a two-day stay in Vanadzor, we divided the team into two groups with half going to Stepanavan and the other half to Sisian.
The overall success of our mission can be measured in many ways. First, we saw and treated over 1,400 patients in four days at the clinic. Second, over 400 children received fluoride dental treatments from our dentists. Third, we were able to bless patients with free medications, some that would last them for a year of treatment. Fourth, each physician team prayed with every patient who walked through the clinic offering more healing than just medication. Fifth, patients who had never been to church were able to attend church services that were held between the morning and afternoon clinic. And finally, we received word that because of our mission, more families are now coming to church and are growing in their faith.
We are thankful to those who were praying for us and the Medical Mission Team. This year was especially difficult with many personal trials that Sue and I endured just prior to leaving. Yet God is faithful and gave us the strength that only can come from Him. We are thankful for the monetary support that the Armenian Missionary Association of America provided, allowing us to distribute free medication and supplies to hundreds of Armenians. We are humbled to see how God has grown the medical mission over the years. We can assure you that your generous donations to the AMAA earmarked for the medical mission go directly to the Armenian people and are only used for medications and supplies. Please consider joining us next year if you have the desire to serve God in Armenia. See our website link on amaa.org for more information.
Dr. Al and Sue Phillips
Khoren & Shooshanig Avedisian School Graduation
This year, graduation at the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian High School was extra special. The students decided to present for the first time “Avedisian” Awards and recognize the benefactors and all the teachers of the School.
The ‘Most Patriotic Director’ award was given to Principal Melanya Geghamyan and “Avedisian” prizes were awarded to the Armenian Missionary Association of Armenia Representative -Mr. Harout Nercessian, Armenia Tree Project Executive Director -Ms. Jeanmarie Papelian, School Benefactor -Mr. Charles P. Bilezikian, President of the American University of Armenia -Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian and others. The motto of the awards stem from the phrase:
Երազի՛ր, Աշխատի՛ր, Վայելի՛ր, Գնահատի՛ր – “Yerazi’r, ashkhati’r, vayeli’r and gnahati’r”
The students of the School have been taught to live by this principle. They have learned to dream about a good education, pride in their country and to dream for the future. In order to achieve these dreams, hard work and contribution to the changing world around them is required.
The School’s benefactor, Edward Avedisian, praised the children’s knowledge and instruction and efforts by the teachers, all aimed at preserving the national spirit. He thanked and encouraged them to continue to maintain a high level of education for the advancement of the nation. Mr. Avedisian said that our students will have a bright and brilliant future.
In his speech, Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian -President of the American University of Armenia, recalled how two years ago he attended the opening ceremony of the School, and was especially impressed by the dedication and desire to succeed by everyone; from administrators and teachers to the student body. Mr. Der Kiureghian happily added that he was left with the same impression today. He offered some advice on learning by offering graduates to higher education if they wish to continue the American University of Armenia.
We wish all our teachers and students a good summer break as preparations are being made for the upcoming 2016-17 school year.
Avedisian School Elementary Graduation
The Graduation Ceremony of the Elementary Section (4th graders) of the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School (housed in the Krikor and Beatrice Bilezikian Building) was held on Thursday, June 16. The Elementary students transformed to golden winged bees, delicate flowers, precursor birds and shining stars presented a beautiful program of songs and recitations. They expressed their gratitude to their teachers, who taught them to love and appreciate books and the Armenian language, promising them to study well and be good citizens of their Motherland.
We thank God for the opportunities created at the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School for the children of Armenia. The passionate spirit to create an appealing and attractive atmosphere in an educational institution where students would love to excel and propel themselves forward has always been in the minds of the benefactors and the Armenian Missionary Association of America, who brought forth this unique educational institution.
It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news of the passing of Past AMAA President and Board Member Albert Momjian on July 11, 2016 after a brief illness.
For many decades, Albert Momjian faithfully served the Armenian Missionary Association of America, sitting on its Board of Directors, acting as its Solicitor, and serving as its President from 1993-1997. A long-time Trustee of the Stephen Philibosian Foundation, Albert was also a lifetime Trustee of Haigazian University, having served as its Solicitor.
He was also very active in the Armenian Evangelical World Council, serving as its Treasurer for many years. In addition, for more than a generation, Albert was active in the Armenian Assembly of America and the Armenian Sisters Academy, serving as Solicitor and on the Boards of both organizations.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m.
(visiting hours 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.) on Saturday, July 16th at
Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church
100 N. Edmonds Avenue, Havertown, PA 19083
to be followed by a private interment service.
Albert is survived by his beloved wife, Esther, of Huntington Valley, PA, his children, AMAA Board Member & Co-Recording Secretary Tom Momjian (click on link to send Tom an email), Mark and Melineh Momjian and Carol and Michael Hanamirian, and five grandsons.
As we mourn the passing of Mr. Albert Momjian, we rejoice in his life and find consolation in the Hope of the Resurrection.
Donations may be made in Mr. Momjian’s memory to the AMAA or Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church in Havertown, PA.
It is with deep sorrow that we share the sad news of the passing of Past AMAA Board Member Harry Balukjian on June 29, 2016 at home in Gaithersburg, MD.
Harry was proud of his Armenian heritage and helped people and institutions in need in Armenia, the Middle East and beyond, through generous donations to the Armenian Missionary Association of America, while serving on the AMAA board for two decades. Mr. Balukjian was instrumental in introducing Dr. John Markarian as a candidate for Founding President of Haigazian University.
A private funeral will be held on July 14th with a private graveyard service at Arlington Cemetery in Upper Darby, PA. The date of a public memorial service is yet to be determined.
Harry is survived by his brother, Robert, of Havertown, PA, the children of his sister Marion Sarian (deceased): nephews David Sarian (Linda) of Parkesburg, PA and Dan Sarian (Rebecca) of Littleton, CO, and niece Susan Hein (Gary), also of Littleton, along with six grandnephews/nieces.
As we mourn the passing of Mr. Harry Balukjian, we rejoice in his life and find consolation in the Hope of the Resurrection.
Donations be made in Mr. Balukjian’s memory to the AMAA or Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church, Havertown, PA.
Last week, Rev. Kirkor Ağabaloğlu, Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedik Pasa, Istanbul was in Armenia, along with a delegation comprised of members of the committee for the construction and rehabilitation of Istanbul’s CAMP ARMEN (Kamp Armen), including engineer Nazareth Binatli, architects Aleen Pontioglu, Zhan Gavrilov, representative of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Delal Dink (Hrant Dink’s daughter) and benefactors Harout and Dalar Khorozoglus.
Rev. Kirkor Ağabaloğlu spoke about all the difficulties that they went through last year for the return of CAMP ARMEN to its right owner, the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedik Pasa.
On July 1, 1846 in Constantinople (current day Istanbul), a spiritual awakening of thirty-seven men and three women formed a Society of the Pious which led them to declare their independence in the name of Jesus Christ through a reform movement.
Today, there are 150 or more Armenian Evangelical organized churches and fellowships in the Republic of Armenia and 23 other countries.
John and Michele Simourian in Armenia
The Untold Story
The Earthquake that Shook Armenia
The Relief Effort that Changed the World
By Stephen Kurkjian*
John A. Simourian was a legendary athlete at Watertown (MA) High School and Harvard College during the mid-1950s and his successes on the football and baseball fields made him one of the most celebrated Armenian-American sports figures in the 20th century.
Yet unbeknownst to everyone except a few close friends, Simourian initiated a relief effort that saved the lives of numerous victims of the devastating earthquake in Armenia in 1988 by reaching out to two players he had met while leading Harvard’s football team 30 years before.
The relief effort, which depended on a secret agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union to succeed, was spurred by an entreaty to Simourian by his wife Michele that “we’ve got to do something” hours after learning of the disaster.
Three decades later, the devastating earthquake is a reminder of the horrific events that Armenia and its people has had to endure to survive through history. But a closer look of what followed it, particularly the collapse of Communism and the closening of ties between those in the diaspora and the homeland, is also a tribute to the distinctly Armenian-characteristic of not only surviving national tragedy but becoming stronger from it.
For Simourian, that journey began the morning after he learned of the earthquake. From his office as president of his family-owned transportation company, he called the chief of one of the country’s largest manufacturers of dialysis equipment, a man whom Simourian had competed against while quarterbacking Harvard’s football team and told him of the crisis.
Having seen television images of the devastation, Vernon R. Loucks, Jr., Chairman of Baxter International and former end for Yale’s varsity football team, was only too willing to help with a massive relief effort. Baxter would donate more than a million dollars’ worth of modern dialysis equipment – as well as the doctors and technicians to operate them – that was desperately needed in Armenia.
“I consider what we did here perhaps the best thing I ever accomplished in my business career,” said Loucks, now 83. “And the real reason I did it was because of the sense of urgency in John’s voice.”
But Loucks knew that the 20 machines and related equipment needed to get to Armenia immediately or they would do little good to bring medical relief to the earthquake victims. Survivors of collapsed buildings invariably suffer shock, which can lead to fatal kidney damage unless treated with dialysis quickly.
Loucks asked Simourian if he knew anyone in Washington, D.C. who could cut through the red tape and expedite the transport of the equipment from the United States to Yerevan. Simourian’s next phone call was to the most important person he knew in Washington – US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who had been an end on the Harvard University varsity football team that Simourian played for during the 1950s.
Kennedy too had seen the television coverage of the devastation that the earthquake had brought and pledged to Simourian that he would do anything he could do and do it as soon as possible. But, according to Simourian, Kennedy insisted on one condition – that neither Simourian nor Loucks make any mention of Kennedy’s involvement in getting the desperately-needed approvals and permits granted. Simourian – and Loucks – kept that pledge for three decades even though the doors that he helped open for them were monumental and their impact both life-saving and long-lasting for Armenia.
Kennedy’s official papers cataloguing his work in the Senate have yet to be made public so documenting the actual steps he might have taken to facilitate the Baxter shipment from the United States to Armenia was impossible. However, Kennedy spoke of his commitment to the relief effort a few weeks later when the Soviet Union placed a sudden halt on all relief shipments to Yerevan. At a press conference at Boston’s Logan Airport where several planes filled with emergency goods had been delayed from taking off, Kennedy said:
“It will not only be physical things on that flight but, more deeply, it will be prayers and a sense of loss. This isn’t just one plane. There will be a second plane, and a third plane, and a fourth plane. The American people are resolute, and we are going to continue our efforts for Armenia.”
But by that time the Baxter dialysis equipment had already arrived in Yerevan and had been installed and being used to treat needy victims. How did it get there – by an extraordinary concession to America’s fiercest Cold War adversary. Apparently through Kennedy’s intercession, the Pentagon cleared a Soviet military transport plane to land at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland, the same airfield used by the President’s Air Force One, and take off from there to Yerevan.
At the same time, again apparently through Kennedy’s influence, the US State Department and the Soviet embassy in Washington gave immediate approval to allow Dr. Allan Collins, a Minnesota kidney specialist, and three Baxter engineers and technicians to fly aboard the military transport plane – squeezed in with the 80,000 pounds of dialysis equipment – from Andrews Air Force Base to Yerevan.
“I’ve been around government operations before, but I’d never seen anything like this,” recalled David Walker, a Baxter engineer who helped retrofit the new dialysis machines to make certain they would work once they arrived in Yerevan. “I still can’t believe it happened – loading modern, American healthcare equipment onto a Russian plane on what has to be one of the most secure American military bases there is.”
The flight – which stopped in Newfoundland and Moscow before reaching Armenia – lasted 20 hours. On arrival in Yerevan on December 20, the dialysis machines were immediately placed into the two Yerevan hospitals designated to treat those suffering from kidney damage.
The situation on the ground in Yerevan was near-desperate. According to Dr. James Tattersall, a British doctor who was one of the first medical personnel to rush to Armenia on hearing of the earthquake – arriving in Yerevan only days later – the need for the new kidney dialysis machines was urgent. He estimated that approximately 1,500 people, who had been rescued from collapsed buildings in Spitak and Leninakan (now Gyumri) and rushed to Yerevan for emergency dialysis treatment, died at the hospitals because of the lack of adequate dialysis equipment in operation at the time of the earthquake.
Ultimately, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who cut short a visit to the United States to rush to the earthquake-stricken region, would give official authorization for Armenia to accept humanitarian aid from the United States and the rest of the world. In all, more than 100 countries would respond. But, according to Dr. Sevak Avagyan, then a deputy within the Armenian Ministry of Health, it was the Baxter shipment of dialysis equipment that convinced the Soviet officials that they needed to accept humanitarian assistance from foreign countries.
“The only way to save those rescued from collapsed buildings was to get them on dialysis but our equipment was outdated and totally unable to meet the overwhelming demand,” said Avagyan, who is now Executive Director of the Armenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry in Yerevan. “Baxter was one of the first to arrive. They opened the door.”
Thirty years after the devastating earthquake, Simourian, having told only a few close friends about the relief effort over the years, spoke of it again over a recent dinner with Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). Khanjian was so moved by the account, he asked Simourian to allow him to make it public. I was contacted by the AMAA and asked to connect with Simourian. I did and looking as fit and focused when he was earning headlines as a standout athlete at Watertown High School and Harvard, Simourian agreed to tell me the story of the relief mission.
* * *
With its epicenter about 55 miles north of Yerevan, the earthquake began at 11:41 in the morning of December 7. The earthquake reached such a force and brought such immediate destruction that many residents believed for a long time that it was not a natural disaster but an underground nuclear explosion that had struck.
Later determined to be the largest ever to hit inside the Soviet republics, the earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and lasted about 30 seconds. The two Armenian cities closest to the epicenter, Spitak and Leninakan, suffered between 25,000 to 50,000 deaths, and up to 130,000 people were injured.
For Armenia, a country of about 3 million people, the casualty level made the earthquake one of the most devastating national disasters in modern times.
Leninakan was the bigger of the two cities struck, in fact with a population of 200,000 it was Armenia’s second largest in size. Following the quake, the collapse of the buildings was so bad that those who lived there in the past and rushed to the scene to assist, could not recognize their neighborhoods. More than 15,000 of its residents were killed and 75 percent of the city said to be destroyed. Block after block of eight- to ten-story buildings, built during the Soviet regime with inadequate concrete and steel reinforcements, lay in rubble. Even though a Russian military base was located there, it lacked the heavy equipment and cranes needed to move the rubble to search for possible survivors.
Former head of the Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan, Hayk Demoyan was a 15-year old school boy living with his family in Leninakan at the time. He had gone off to school with his brother that Wednesday morning with the warning of his mother echoing in his ears that she had had a nightmare and that the two boys should be extra careful at school that day.
Demoyan took notes of what happened during the next several days and shared them with me recently. He was in his shop class at 11:40 when the school began shaking, and his instructor immediately knew what was happening.
“He told us that it’s a quake and that we should run,” Demoyan wrote. “That race was the race between life and death. The creaking of the cement stairs, the party leaders’ pictures and the sound of the shattering glass, the screams of the students and teachers, all mixed together, creating a truly hellish reality. The sounds coming from outside were frightening and impossible to forget.”
On arriving home, he found that all members of his immediate family – his parents, brother and sister – had survived. But so many distant relatives had not, including his two cousins who were trapped beneath a building and spoke to rescuers for two days, before they died.
Anahit Harutyunyan** was only five years old living with her parents and sister. Now a reporter in Gyumri, she remembered being at her grandmother’s home soon after the earthquake struck. “Everyone was watching the chandelier, not with the expectation of light but to see if it moved,” she wrote in an article published in Mediamax.am in Armenia last year.
All the kids in her neighborhood learned to dread the Armenian word for earthquake – Zhazhq – and her lasting memory was standing in her grandmother’s dining room and staring at the chandelier to see if it would sway violently as it had during the earthquake.
The destruction in Spitak was even worse. The city was virtually destroyed in the quake, and a third of its 15,000 residents killed. The roads in and out of the city were rendered impassable and those fortunate enough to be rescued from collapsed structures could not be transported to Yerevan or hospitals outside of the epicenter. It took more than a week for an organized relief effort to mobilize, and in the interim many survivors slept outside in the December cold. Even the city’s main hospital collapsed during the earthquake killing both the patients and medical staff.
“The scale of the destruction drove people crazy, and each person focused on his own family,” said an Armenian professional photographer who arrived at the scene within two hours of the catastrophe. “Those who were at the factory or office, ran home. They were walking over bodies.”
Even though hundreds of relief workers rushed to the scene to assist in the recovery effort, the lack of power tools and heavy equipment hampered their efforts. An Armenian man who was found digging with his fingers and hands was told by a doctor that if he continued to dig that way, he risked amputation. According to the book, Armenia in Crisis: The 1988 Earthquake, the man answered: “What do my hands matter, everything I cherish is under there – my son, my daughter, my wife and my mother.”
For those fortunate enough to be pulled from the rubble, kidney failure was an immediate concern. When a person is trapped under concrete or debris, their blood supply will continue to flow to their brain but not their kidneys and lower extremities. “Crush” is the medical term for the condition and serious kidney damage, even death, can result if the patient is not given dialysis treatment within a matter of days.
So, realizing that time was of extreme essence that numerous lives of victims who had been rescued from collapsed buildings hung in the balance, Armenians everywhere began to rally. Only a trickling few in the Diaspora had given much time or money to a Homeland still caught in the Soviet grip but the emergency presented by the earthquake was something different. The horrific impact of the earthquake was being broadcast every day by CNN and the major television networks and it gave rise to countless frantic conversations in numerous homes of Armenians across America and elsewhere.
One of them was at the Lincoln, MA home of George and Carolann Najarian, both of whom had been to Armenia in prior years in part to study the condition of public health but once there had joined the growing call for independence for the enclave of Karabagh (now Artsakh).
“I don’t think many of the others had even been to Armenia, remember this was still during the Soviet regime, but this was something different – the suffering was on a massive scale and we needed to help,” Carolann Najarian recalled.
While basic emergency supplies such as food, clothes, blankets and children’s goods were foremost on the minds of countless people, a fundraising campaign was outlined among those who met at the Najarians’ home. But soon organizations began to be established to address more deep-seated needs in the country, including the Armenian Children’s Milk Fund, the Fund for Armenian Relief, the Armenian Health Alliance, Kirk Kerkorian’s The Lincy Foundation and, in 1994, Carolyn Mugar’s Armenia Tree Project. The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), which had been established in 1918 to provide care and support in numerous other countries for children left orphans by the Genocide, began the Earthquake Orphan Fund and provided care for the first time to children in Armenia.
For certain, the massive humanitarian relief effort did not take care of all of the damage done by the earthquake. At least 2,000 families in Gyumri still live in the tin shanties that provided housing for 40,000 residents immediately after the earthquake. But overall, three decades later, it is inspiring to consider the extraordinary rest of the Soviet Empire – since the earthquake. Public outrage by Armenians toward the shoddy construction of high-rise buildings that had collapsed in the tremors was followed by disgust over the slow and chaotic rescue efforts. Within a year, the Berlin Wall was falling, and Gorbachev was telling all Soviet republics they were free to declare their independence and Armenia was the first to do so, by popular vote in 1990.
But the Simourians could envisage none of those changes as they drove away from the Najarians’ home that night after the earthquake struck.
Michele Simourian recalled recently that with tears flowing down her eyes she looked at her husband, and said, “John, we’ve got to do something.” Then she reminded him of his friendship with Vernon Loucks, his Ivy League football foe. Loucks had risen in the ranks of Baxter Healthcare and taken over as its CEO as well as its Board Chairman the year before, and Michele suggested John call him.
A life-saving mission between two world powers would result from that phone call and remarkably enough it was the product of the respect and trust that two men gained playing football against each other more than 30 years before.
When asked recently about their strongest memory of the other, Simourian and Loucks both remembered the fierce competition each showed during the three varsity football games they played against one another between 1954-1956 – Yale winning two and Harvard one of The Games.
“I remember him because he played end on offense and defense,” Simourian said. “I’m still sore from some of the tackles he made on me.”
And what does Loucks remember about Simourian’s play? “He was a threat on every single play. He wasn’t the biggest guy on their team, but he was the most versatile,” Loucks recalled.
Following their graduations, both served in the military – Loucks as a Marine, and Simourian in the Navy – and after graduating from Harvard Business School at different times both began their successful business careers: Loucks in healthcare and Simourian, with his son, building a trucking company into a national transportation organization, headquartered in Needham, MA.
Despite his legendary athletic record and successful business career, Simourian says the most important decision he made in his life was to court and marry Michele, now his wife of 56 years. Born in France, Michele met John after coming to Boston and later Simmons College. Long an advocate for Armenian causes and organizations, she has served as a Board member of the AMAA. In addition, she is co-founder with Elizabeth Agbabian of AMAA’s Orphan and Child Care Committee commissioned by the Association.
If the idea for the relief mission began with Michele urging her husband to re-connect with his Ivy League football foe, Loucks credited one of Baxter’s vice presidents, Warren D. (Don) Johnson, with immediately implementing the idea and getting the equipment and engineers ready for flight to Armenia.
Johnson was accustomed to emergency missions. A retired lieutenant general in the US Marine Corps, Johnson had been a fighter pilot during World War II and risen to become chief of staff of the US Strategic Air Command in Omaha and then director of the US Defense Nuclear Agency which was responsible for maintaining the country’s atomic bombs and nuclear testing programs.
Because he had participated in negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union to reduce their nuclear arsenals, Johnson told Simourian he had contacts in Russia whom they could draw on. But echoing what Loucks had told him, Simourian recalled Johnson telling him that they needed someone in Washington who could facilitate getting the Baxter equipment transported from the United States to Yerevan.
That solidified it for Simourian – Kennedy was his only hope. In the early morning hours of December 18, 1988, a little more than ten days after the earthquake had struck Armenia, the Russian Aeroflot landed at Andrews Air Force Base, was quickly loaded with the 80,000 pounds of dialysis equipment and took off.
William Lundeen, another of the three Baxter engineers who helped load the 20 dialysis machines aboard the plane in the pre-dawn dark, says he wasn’t alone in wondering about the perilous nature of the mission he had joined. When he stepped out of a hangar to approach the transport plane, Lundeen recalls coming across a unit of US military commandos all dressed in black, whose commander told him: “We don’t know who’s coming off that plane, and we want to be sure we’re prepared for anything.”
It is evident Johnson too didn’t know what the Baxter engineers and Dr. Collins, the kidney specialist from Minnesota, should expect once they landed in Moscow, the last leg of their flight before reaching Yerevan. In a cable to them, Johnson stressed they should memorize the name and telephone number of Dr. Yevegny Chazov, the top Health Minister in the Kremlin, in case they ran into any trouble.
Several years before, Chazov had joined with the renowned Boston-based cardiologist Dr. Bernard Lown to establish the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and the group was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.
Johnson’s cable also listed Norman Stein as a person to contact in case the group ran into any problems while in the Soviet Union. Stein, who had raised money for the anti-nuke organization and traveled to Russia on several previous occasions, recalls advising the Baxter group: “Whatever you do, never leave the medical equipment out of your sight, or it will disappear, and you’ll never see it again.”
On reaching Yerevan, they received a welcoming embrace from the Soviet officials and Armenian medical personnel – a clear measure of how desperate the medical situation had become. Because of the antiquated medical equipment, neither of the two hospitals designated to treat the earthquake victims were able to provide the needed care, and hundreds were dying every day or being sent to Moscow.
The three Baxter engineers went to work immediately outfitting their dialysis machines to the water treatment resources that existed at the two hospitals. By the end of December, the Baxter dialysis machines had been joined by other pieces arriving from West Germany and England and together they were able to meet the critical demand that the earthquake had brought – the doctors were able to provide life-saving kidney dialysis treatment to 400 patients.
Anna Bulgarian, a 14-year old who had been pulled from a collapsed building, was one of the first to receive treatment from Dr. Collins. She was in a deep sleep when hooked up to the dialysis equipment but within two hours, her eyes opened, and she perked up enough to wave to Lundeen. “That was a real emotional level for everybody because this was the realization of the whole mission,” Lundeen said.
Lundeen and his two colleagues returned to the United States by the end of December but that did not end the Baxter commitment to Armenia – Loucks sent another five technical and medical personnel to replace them. The second team’s job was to continue to treat earthquake victims while working to make sure that Baxter’s dialysis machines became part of Armenia’s commitment to a modernized health care system.
Later that spring, Loucks summoned all of those Baxter employees who had participated in the relief effort to an appreciation dinner at the company’s headquarters in Illinois, and he asked John and Michele Simourian to attend. “I knew we had done something that none of us would ever forget,” Loucks said, “and I wanted to thank John and Michele as representatives of the Armenian people for letting us serve them.”
* Stephen Kurkjian is a retired reporter and editor for The Boston Globe and a founding member of The Globe’s investigative Spotlight Team. He shared in three Pulitzer Prizes as a member and editor of the Spotlight Team. In recent years, Kurkjian authored the non-fiction book MASTER THIEVES, which is regarded as the most authoritative account of the historic and still-unsolved theft of masterpieces from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Kurkjian has also written extensively on the Armenian Genocide and is a Board member of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research.
** Reporters Anahit Harutyunyan and Ani Hovhannissyan contributed from Armenia.
On the occasion of AMAA’s Centennial, celebratory banquets and gatherings have been organized throughout the world. AMAA members and friends are invited and encouraged to attend, celebrate and commemorate this special milestone together. Representatives from various Unions, Churches and Communities will gather to pay homage to the Founders, Philanthropists and Volunteers who have brought the AMAA forward, 100 years later!
Tickets will not be sent in advance. Reservations are held at door.
A moment of prayer and reflection at the eternal flame Dzidzernagapert (August 3, 2018)
This summer, Armenia was the gathering point for nearly 150 youth and leaders from Armenian Evangelical churches and Unions the world over, as the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) celebrates the centennial of its founding with an “All-Armenian Evangelical Youth Conference.
More than 150 Diaspora Armenian youth from North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Artsakh have come to Armenia to participate in this Conference.
With fifteen different countries represented, these youth gathered in the Homeland, some for the first time, to experience a connection with one another, with their culture and heritage, and with their identity as young Armenian Christians. They took in some of the significant touristic sights in and around Yerevan and became acquainted with the educational and benevolent work of the AMAA in Armenia. The Youth split among different groups and immersed themselves in various hands-on projects in communities around Armenia.
On Wednesday, August 15, the RA Minister of Diaspora Mkhitar Hayrapetyan participated in the Closing Ceremony of the All-Armenian Evangelical Youth Conference at AMAA’s Camp SHEEN-SHOGHIG in Hankavan.
Rev. Nishan Bakalian, in his closing message of the conference, directed the youth to I Tim. 6.11 as a concrete plan against which they can evaluate their growth as young Armenian Christians.
A youth talent show revealed the amazing gifts these young people have, whether in instrumental music, singing, Armenian and modern dance, drama, comedy and more.
Wrapping up the evening was a word of thanks to the many in the organizing and planning committees and to the leaders who stepped in as needed during the two weeks. Of particular note was the work of the Rev. Nishan and Maria Bakalian, Revs. Mgrdich Melkonian and Hovik Hovsepyan and the ECA, and Mr. Harout Nercessian, Mr. David Aynejian and Executive Director/CEO Mr. Zaven Khanjian of the AMAA.
The relationships which began there will now become worldwide networked connections. We pray that these new networks will help sustain the vitality of the Armenian Evangelical Church in every place, well into the future.
On the Occasion of the
30th Anniversary of Armenia’s Earthquake
THE POWER OF
“We’ve got to do something”
Two Thousand Eighteen is the 30th anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Armenia which took place on December 7, 1988.
It is also the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Missionary Association of America.
This September, the AMAA will celebrate our Centennial in the Homeland, Armenia. On September 30 we will inaugurate the new AMAA Community Center and Sanctuary in Gyumri and dedicate it to God Almighty. A Center that is AMAA’s gift to the people of Gyumri.
Over one hundred guests and donors from the Diaspora will join the community on September 30 to celebrate the revival of Armenia’s historical epicenter of cultural heritage and intellectual treasure. This Center will bring joy, add a smile on the faces of its children and bring honor to God.
In doing so, the AMAA follows suit of an amazing couple in the ranks of its members who 30 years ago, faced with the human and national tragedy that struck the Homeland, firmly asserted, “we’ve got to do something.” They did. And have continued to do ever since.
The feature story of John and Michele Simourian in this current issue of AMAA News reveals the power of “we’ve got to do something” commitment, goodwill and action. The story of an amazing miracle in a world separated by an Iron Curtain reveals how a commitment for “we’ve got to do something” melts the barriers of impossibility and impassibility, injecting life in a perceived hopeless reality.
Thanks to staunch AMAA supporter Phyllis Dohanian’s connection, the renowned (now retired) reporter and editor for The Boston Globe, three-time Pulitzer Prize sharing member and editor of the Globe’s investigative Spotlight Team, Stephen Kurkjian, picks up this breaking story for the historical perspective of our readers.
Also in this issue, AMAA Gyumri’s Representative Karen Manukyan, who was in the 7th grade during the 1988 earthquake, peeps through a periscope of memory, the conditions following the deadly earthquake and places the tragedy on a scale against the blessings of AMAA’s new Center and rich history of involvement and service in the region.
The AMAA Orphan and Child Care Program, itself a birth child of the earthquake, continues to serve the impoverished children of Armenia and Artsakh. Michele Simourian, an AMAA Board Member and founding Co-Chair of the Program, has recently taken a back seat after vigorously leading and serving for over 25 years. The AMAA is so appreciative of her many years of service and commitment. The AMAA is soundly on track with our “we’ve got to do something” commitment, extending our legacy of Faith, Love and Service all around the globe to a second century.
And, our AMAA Centennial Campaign continues with a wide range of programs and services that need funding and support.
We are proud of the many accomplishments of people like John, Michele, Stephen and Karen and so many others too numerous to mention. We invite each of you to search your heart and see where your “I’ve got to do something” focus lands.
All of us at the AMAA sincerely thank you for your continued support of our efforts.
AMAA Executive Director/CEO
By Joyce Abdulian
Ken Khachigian, distinguished Armenian-American political consultant, speech writer, attorney and veteran of nine presidential campaigns, will be the Master of Ceremonies at the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) Centennial Celebration Banquet on October 20, 2018 at the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel. Highlighting the evening’s celebration will be the recognition of AMAA esteemed benefactors John Sheen, Stephen Philibosian, Sirpuhe and John Conte, and Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian. The Centennial Committee is honored to announce Ken Khachigian as Master of Ceremonies.
Khachigian is a senior partner in the Orange County office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. He was a longtime aide to President Richard Nixon and chief speechwriter to President Ronald Reagan, as well as senior adviser and principal strategist for Governor George Deukmejian, with whom he had an ongoing friendship. Ken is considered by many, to be the State’s premier Republican strategist and wordsmith, and is regarded as the “lion” of California GOP politics. He directed several campaigns, and is included on the 100 LIVES’ list of “100 Armenians Who Changed the World.”
Khachigian began his distinguished public service career in the White House immediately following his graduation from Columbia law school — rising to Deputy Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon. President Ronald Reagan commissioned him Special Consultant to the President in 1981where he served as chief speech writer and senior White House adviser. Beginning with President Reagan’s first inaugural address, Ken collaborated on dozens of major and historic political and policy speeches throughout the president’s two terms of office. He served the Reagan-Bush Campaign, being one of only two campaign aides who accompanied President Reagan on Air Force One throughout his 1984 landslide re-election. He was also a key advisor and strategist for George H. W. Bush’s successful 1988 election campaign.
Ken was raised with his three brothers, Melvin, Luther, and Ronald in Visalia, California on a 60 acre grape, walnut, cotton and alfalfa farm. The farm was founded by Ken’s paternal grandfather Harutune, who left Chomakhlou, a village in Gesaria, prior to the Armenian Genocide intending to earn money to be reunited with his wife and children. But as the Turks began implementing the Genocide, they purged the entire village of Chomakhlou, sending its families into the Syrian Desert. Ken’s father, Ohannes, survived, but lost his mother, brother and sister to starvation and disease in Damascus, Syria. Ohannes John Khachigian emigrated to the United States, arriving in Ellis Island in December, 1920 and began working the family farm with his father. He married Ken’s mother, Elizabeth, who was born in Fresno, California to parents originally from Kharpert. The Khachigian family was active in the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Yettem — a close-knit congregation of mostly Chomakhlou immigrants. Khachigian notes, “The AMAA was very dear to my parents over the years. The work it has done for tens of thousands in our international family is immeasurable. It remains vitally important to me to carry on the vision that my family left me. ”
Ken’s wife, Meredith, served for three terms as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of California. They have two daughters Merissa and Kristina, and four
grandchildren, Kellan, Joseph, Sosie, and Sonny.
For more information about the Centennial Banquet please call Levon Filian (626) 487-5878 or the AMAA Office (201) 265-2607 or e-mail email@example.com