Rev. Emmanuel Darakjian
Reverend Emmanuel Darakjian was born in Aintab, Turkey on January 19, 1920, to Pastor Nazareth and Aroussiag Darakjian during the heroic war of resistance in Aintab.
Pastor Nazareth, Emmanuel’s father, was born in an apostolic family but his mother sent him to the Sunday school at the local Armenian Evangelical Church. Nazareth lost his father when he was three which forced him to leave school early and start working in the fabric weaving industry, acquiring the name “Darakhji” which was later Armenianized. As a teenager he went to the Evangelical Church with his friends, not so much to benefit from the service but to disrupt it. At some point he started listening to the sermons and accepted Christ in his life at age 18. Initially he devoted himself to Christian work while continuing his work but at the age of 24 he gave up his profession altogether and became a full time evangelist pastor.
When the Aintab war ended, the family moved to an area near Antioch where Pastor Nazareth served the local Armenian Evangelical churches. In 1926, in the city of Kirik Khan, Pastor Nazareth succumbed to malaria at age 41 leaving behind a wife and five very young boys ages one to ten. The family moved to Aleppo where Aroussiag’s brother Nejib Shirikjian lived. Nejib helped the family survive in these difficult circumstances.
Emmanuel received his elementary education at the Bethel School in Aleppo and went on to Aleppo College graduating in 1939. That same year at the ripe age of 19 he was sent to Kessab to serve as school principal for one year. In 1940 he entered the American University of Beirut and also attended the Near East School of Theology (N.E.S.T). In 1944 he received his B.A. in Theology and went back to Aleppo to serve as Principal in both Bethel and Emmanuel schools. In 1948 he married Mary Cholakian, a teacher at the Bethel school. Soon after the wedding they moved to Kessab where Pastor Emmanuel served the churches of Ekiz-Olouk and Keorkune for four years. They were blessed with their first daughter Arpy in 1950, and in 1952 the family moved back to Aleppo where Pastor Emmanuel served the Armenian Evangelical Church of Eshrefieh (also known as Davoodieh). In 1953 the family was blessed with a son Nazareth and Pastor Emmanuel was ordained.
As soon as he arrived in Eshrefieh, Rev. Emmanuel embarked on a major project to build a church, a school and a manse. This bold project was completed fairly quickly thus creating a sanctuary for the congregation to worship in, classrooms for the school children and a two bedroom apartment for the pastor and his family to live in. Rev. Darakjian served both as Pastor of the church and Principal of the school while his wife Mary served as a teacher in the school as well as the church organist and choir director and led the weekly women’s worship service.
The family was blessed again with the births of a boy Hrair in 1957, and a daughter Suzy in 1966.
In 1966 the family moved to Lebanon where Rev. Emmanuel assumed the role of Principal at the Armenian Evangelical Shamlian Tatigian Secondary School in Nor Marash, Bourj Hammoud. In 1968, Rev. Darakjian received an invitation to serve as Pastor of the Assyrian Evangelical Church near Beirut on a part time basis, which gave him the opportunity to reenter N.E.S.T as a student one more time, and acquire the degree of Bachelor in Divinity, and a few years later the degree of Master in Divinity.
After the Lebanese civil war erupted, Rev. Darakjian left the Near East in 1975 and moved to the United States with his family settling in Chicago. There being no empty pulpits in the Armenian Evangelical churches in the U.S. at that time, Rev. Darakjian found a position as an editorial assistant at Commerce Clearing House, a company that published books for the legal profession. In Chicago he attended the Armenian Congregational Church and often participated in the service by preaching.
In 2015 Rev. Darakjian lost his lifetime partner Mary. He currently resides in Chicago with his daughter Suzy.