Rev. Vahan Bedikian
Note: It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Our Veteran Pastor Rev. Vahan Bedikian, who went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, July 3. We had already prepared his bio to feature him in the July Aug. Sept. 2018 issue of the AMAA News as Our Veteran Pastor. However, because of his passing, we now dedicate this to his blessed memory. Our condolences to the Bedikian family. May God comfort them with His Holy Spirit. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day… 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Rev. Vahan Bedikian was born on April 12, 1931 in Alexandretta, Turkey and grew up under the influence of devout Christian parents.
In 1938, the family moved to Beirut, Lebanon where he attended Armenian Evangelical High School. For his higher education he attended the American University of Beirut along with a combined program at the Near East School of Theology (NEST). He graduated from both institutions in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts and a diploma in theology degrees, respectively. Rev. Bedikian assisted Rev. Garabed Tilkian at First Church in Beirut for one year after his graduation from the NEST.
Rev. Bedikian was the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s missionary in Syria following Rev. Hovhannes Karjian who left in 1956. The project was launched under the initiative of Rev. Puzant H. Kalfayan, the Executive Secretary of the AMAA. There were a number of Kurdish Armenians in the Kamishli area who had no spiritual leadership or any connection to the Armenian community. (This is the same area that has been more recently controlled by ISIS terrorists.) These Armenians worshipped in the local Presbyterian Church.
In 1957, he chose to go to the Bethel Church of Aleppo which was without a minister. There he met Zevart Abajian and they were married in 1958. He served Bethel Church and School for five years as minister, teacher and school administrator.
Rev. Bedikian and his family arrived in the United States in 1962 where he continued his post-graduate studies. Along with his preaching on Sundays, he pursued his studies at Hartford Seminary Foundation and received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1963. In 1964, he received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Union Theological Seminary of New York and also served the Armenian Presbyterian Church of New Jersey.
While serving the Armenian Evangelicals of Washington, D.C., he was ordained on October 9, 1966 by the United Church of Christ and the Armenian Evangelical Union where a new church was being formed. During the summer of that year he was called to minister at the Calvary Armenian Congregational Church of San Francisco. After serving there for about eight years, he submitted his resignation in late 1974.
Even though he received his credentials from the Sacramento Board of Education to teach in California in 1975, he decided to enter the business world.
Rev. Bedikian was an uncompromising leader. He upheld the principles and traditions of the Armenian Evangelical Church with the utmost faithfulness. His ministry has been characterized as an ecumenical one. Whether it was in Aleppo, Syria or San Francisco, Pastor Vahan brought together Armenian civic and ecclesiastical leaders of different persuasions. He has always believed that a true Armenian is one who has learned to establish friendships upon intellectual, cultural and ethnic interests and concerns with other Armenians of varied political, religious and ideological affiliations.
He once expressed his philosophy as “It is our spiritual duty to disseminate the Christian spirit of love and respect for all, especially toward those who do not think like us.”
Rev. Bedikian and his wife, Zevart, have three children Varouj, Ara and Lory.
This is an amended version of Rev. Vahan Bedikian’s biography by Rev. Dr. Peter Doghramji, which was published in Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian’s book “Fifty Years of Christian Service.” 2000, pages 52-53.