Rev. Dr. Peter B. Doghramji
The Rev. Dr. Peter B. Doghramji was born in 1929, in Aleppo, Syria. He grew up in the Syriac Evangelical Church within the Armenian Evangelical Union. He attended the one-room school of the church, until the Rev. Edward Tovmassian, his pastor and hero, enrolled him in the fourth grade of the elementary section of Aleppo College, where he continued through high school and his freshman year in college. The Rev. Dikran Antreassian helped him enroll in the Seminary in Beirut in 1948. He graduated in 1953, with a B.A. from the American University of Beirut and a Diploma in Theology from the Near East School of Theology (NEST).
There he met his future wife, Marie Bedikian, an elementary school teacher who wanted to pursue her career in Christian Education. They were married in 1953 and headed to Badveli Doghramji’s first parish in Hassakeh, Syria, where ISIS is in control today. He preached in Arabic to a congregation of mostly Arabic, but also Armenian, Aramaic, Kurdish, and Russian-speaking people. He also was principal of the elementary school and taught English at the public high schools because English teachers were not available. Their first son, Karl, was born there in 1954. Badveli Doghramji was ordained by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (Arab Presbyterian).
The following year, Rev. Dr. Doghramji joined the faculty of Aleppo College as a teacher of religion and philosophy. Paul, their second son, was born in 1957. In 1959, Rev. Dr. Doghramji was elected as the first national President of Aleppo College. He was given a year’s leave for graduate study at Harvard University Divinity School, where he studied under such luminaries as Paul Tillich. He received a Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree in 1961.
From 1961 to 1966, he served Aleppo College as President and professor of religion. He was also the interim pastor of the National (Arab) Evangelical Church in Aleppo. Their third son, James, was born there in 1963. Rev. Dr. Doghramji resigned his position in 1966 to continue his doctoral studies in a joint program between Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation was “Christian Ethics in the Muslim Context.” He was awarded a Ph.D. degree, magna cum laude, in 1970.
During his last year at Princeton, he served the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church (AMCC) in Havertown, PA, as part-time interim pastor. He declined the invitation of the church to be their permanent pastor due to his commitment to teach at NEST as professor of theology. But after two semesters of teaching there in Beirut in 1969-70, he and his family moved to Havertown, where he resumed the ministry of the church on a full-time basis.
After serving the church for nine years he resigned in 1979 to join the staff of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ as an Assistant to the Conference Minister. In 1985, he became the President and Minister of the Conference. Having served a full term of six years, he retired in 1991. During his tenure in Collegeville, PA, he received the Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) degree from Ursinus College in 1986.
His retirement was interrupted several times: first, in 1993 as interim pastor of Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church of Downey, CA; next as interim (1993-94) and then senior pastor (1994-96) of the United Armenian Congregational Church
in Hollywood, CA; twice as interim pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York (2000-03 and 2006-12); and as Executive Director, Armenian Missionary Association of America in 2004.
Rev. Dr. Doghramji was a Trustee and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He served the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America as the first Executive Secretary (1979-84), Moderator (1984-86), and Chairman of the Theological Commission (from 1996). He has been widely known as a theologian, Biblical scholar, preacher and teacher. He is the author of the soon-to-be-released book on the Apostles’ Creed, Exploring Our Faith (published jointly by the AMAA and the AMCC), as well as the 2004 collection of reflections, In Other Words, (published by the Armenian Evangelical Church of NY and AMAA), both of which are available through the AMAA office. He and his wife continue to reside in Havertown, PA, and they have seven grandchildren. Sons Karl, Paul and James are practicing physicians in the Philadelphia area.