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 from their Mother Church through a reform movement. Their numbers soon grew and spread throughout Anatolia, Syria and Armenia. As Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian (AMAA Executive Director 1987-2000), describes in the book The Armenian Evangelical Church 2000 “by the early 1900s, there were 140 or more Armenian Evangelical churches with 55,000 or more adherents, served by no fewer than 185 pastors, evangelists and coworkers….The Genocide perpetrated by the Turks in 1915 against Armenians was a disaster for Armenians of all creeds…After the sovietization of Armenia, Armenian Christian believers were also persecuted in their homeland. As a result, by the early 1920s there were left no more than 50 organized Armenian Evangelical churches in the world.”
Today, there are 150 or more Armenian Evangelical organized churches and fellowships in the Republic of Armenia and 23 other countries.
For 169 years the Armenian Evangelical Church has faithfully adhered to the commandment of the Teacher and continues to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” -Mark 16:15
For 169 years the Church has reflected the Love of God in the service of our people and continues to do so in the homeland and in our communities across the globe.
We thank God for the Church and its mission and wish it spiritual growth and zealous loyalty to the Creator.
Every two years the United Church of Christ (UCC) brings together thousands of faithful members for the General Synod.
The UCC has more than 5,100 churches and 1.1 million members across the United States. Many Armenian Evangelical Churches within the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America (AEUNA) are members of the UCC.
This year, General Synod 30 is currently being held (June 26-30th) in Cleveland, OH –the birthplace of the United Church of Christ. Dr. Peter Makari, Area Executive for Middle East/Europe of the UCC, announced that this morning [June 29th] the Synod adopted the resolution of witness submitted by Wider Church Ministries “Commemorating 100 Years Since the Armenian Genocide.”
Rev. Dr. James Moos, Executive Minister of the Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ
During the General Synod, Rev. Dr. James Moos, Executive Minister of Wider Church Ministries, UCC, read the statements of Rev. L. Nishan Bakalian, Pastor of Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church, Havertown, PA and Rev. Michelle Torigian, Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ (UCC) in Cincinnati, OH.
The Armenian Missionary Association of America would like to take this opportunity to thank Wider Church Ministries for their continued support of the Armenians from 1890s to present as well as of human rights causes, including the presentation of the passage of this resolution to the General Synod of UCC for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and for calling on the U.S. and Turkish governments to recognize it as well.
The Annual Graduation Ceremony is a great tradition at the Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian School for grades fourth through ninth. This year the Ceremony, which was held on June 19th, was unique in a couple of aspects. It was the first graduation ceremony to be held at the new School building!
It was with great honor that a number of distinguished guests from both Armenia and the Diaspora were able to attend including: Karen Nazaryan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Susanna Azatyan, Head of the Preschool and Secondary Education Department of RA Ministry of Education and Science; Armine Ohanyan, Senior Specialist of the Preschool and Secondary Education Department of RA Ministry of Education; Ruzanna Khachatryan, wife of the RA Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan; Family members of Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan; Dr. Armen Der Kiureghian, President of the American University of Armenia; Gevorg Goyunyan, Vice President of the American University of Armenia and staff members; Abgar Apinyan, President of Writers’ Union of Yerevan; Vartkes and Mary Najarian, benefactors of the School; Representatives of the AMAA U.S. Medical Mission Team; School principals of the Malatia-Sebastia district; various representatives of international and social organizations; school parents and journalists.
The theme of this year’s Graduation Program was “Patriotism,” and it was not by chance; the primary mission of the Avedisian School is to create patriotic, well-educated citizens who are devoted and loyal to their Homeland. Performances by students included dancing, singing patriotic songs and recitation of poems.
After his speech, which urged students to study well and be good citizens for Armenia, the School benefactor, Mr. Edward Avedisian introduced the keynote speaker, Mr. Karen Nazaryan.
In his remarks, Mr. Nazaryan stated that Armenia is “…one of the richest nations in the world with its educational and cultural heritage. Avedisian School is not only a unique educational institution in Armenia but in the whole region. I know that a lot of talented children study here and participate in various Olympiads and win awards. I know that many outstanding teachers work here and their dedicated services have been greatly appreciated. And these are the best rewards to our compatriots in the Diaspora, to the Avedisian family and to the Armenian Missionary Association of America for their support in the realization of this patriotic and glorious educational institution.”
In her speech, Avedisian School Principal, Melania Geghamyan stated that she is a proud principal. She is proud of her School benefactors, proud of her teachers, and most of all proud of her students. She is also immensely happy for the 9th grade students’ current success and is overjoyed that they will not yet leave the school, but will continue their education at the Avedisian High School.
The graduation ceremony was followed by planting a silver fir tree in memory of Khoren and Shooshanig Avedisian.
“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. With this Graduation Ceremony, a new generation of future scholars, professionals and academicians in the Homeland are marching on. You support of the School will make a difference.” –– Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO
by Kyle Kevorkian
Day 10- The official final day in Armenia.
Today I felt a lot of mixed emotions and I’m sure the other team members did as well.
I was yearning to go home to the life I left behind in America but I was also extremely sad to be leaving Armenia and the family that I formed while I was there.
Our last day consisted mainly of touring. We stopped first at the Pagan temple of Garni and then passed to the cave-monastery of Geghard. It was a very informative day with a very knowledgeable tour guide who was able to give us heaps of information about the cites we visited, as well as the history of Armenia as a whole.
While the touring was enjoyable and enlightening, most of the fun occurred after we got back to the hotel. A large group of us walked around Yerevan for one last glimpse of Armenia before our depart. We ate delicious gelato and waffles with our group and some of the translators and enjoyed each other’s company before we part our ways.
Saying goodbye to my family in Armenia was as difficult as ever, but this year it was one of the hardest parts of the trip for me personally. This year was a tremendous experience in every possible way. The people in the group were absolutely amazing, God-fearing people with the biggest hearts. They made the whole experience totally exhilarating, aiding in my spiritual growth as well as providing entertainment and valuable instruction. I think that from my experience, it’s the mentality of the members that truly holds the team together. Without amazing people like the ones we had this year, the trip would be futile. I’m so glad to have returned to the mission team this year and to do God’s work in my home country with the most amazing group of people anyone could ask for.
I want to give a huge thank you to the Phillips family for coordinating another widely successful trip and for allowing me to come with them on this trip once again.
Thank you all for your time reading this blog and for your prayers.
See you in America!
by Kyle Kevorkian
Day 9 – Today, we spent most of the day travelling.
We had a half day of clinic and then we all packed up shop and headed on the bus. We spent about two hours driving to Lake Sevan where we were able to climb to the top of the hill and witness the beautiful view of the lake. We also saw the monasteries up there and, of course, took a gazillion pictures. After some walking around and wading in the waters of Sevan, we sat down to have dinner at a restaurant with an amazing view of the lake.
The trip to Sevan is truly a testament to the wonders of God’s creation. After a relaxing afternoon at Sevan we returned to Yeravan and checked back into Hotel Ani. For the remainder of the night, a few of us went out and explored the streets of Yerevan as a final bit of adventure before we leave Armenia. As we were walking, it hit me that we would soon be leaving Armenia for a whole year and I found myself in a curious position. I’m at extremely excited to go home and see my family, friends, and country. Yet I am terribly sad to be leaving Armenia. The memories I have made here are endless and I know that if I had more time in Armenia with this group I could make a million more.
Both the act of serving God and doing His work, as well as spending time with a beyond amazing group of people is a once in a lifetime experience. I know that even though I will be more comfortable in my natural setting with my family, bed, shower etc. I will still be missing my friends, no, family, who I spent the last two weeks with. It has been the experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to get back at it again next year!
As for prayers, we need none for us. Continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Armenia who need to know the Lord and need to experience his love, not for two weeks of the year, but every day of every week.
Thank you as always.
By Kyle Kevorkian
Day 8- Our last day of clinic for this year has arrived.
It was an amazing, momentous day but also a somber one. As I looked around the clinic at the end of the day, I saw people genuinely sad that our work here was done. I could tell on people’s faces and I even heard it from some people’s mouths; they thought that their work wasn’t enough, that they were inadequate, and that there was more that they should have done for people. This is part of what made year’s group unlike any other.
I could write about the clinic as I usually do, but I fear that that is a boring read for all of you so I’d like to take this day of the blog to discuss the team. Every year the Phillips family says, “This year’s team is going to be the best ever!” And they too acknowledge that they say this every year whether it’s true or not. One key part of this is that you cannot truly compare teams from year to year since the overall composition of the team is so diverse and complex, with so many different talents, personalities, and people in each year’s team.
However, I can honestly say that this year’s team blew me away. I formed a meaningful bond with each and every member of the team this year and I was utterly amazed at how joyfully every member of the team embraced Christ as they worked in clinic and willingly admitted that all of their work here is done for God’s glorification.
This year we saw about 1350 patients; far above our record of 1001 patients in previous years. While this is in part due to having one more doctor than in previous years, I believe that this goal was reached through every member’s love and desire to work for God and to help these people to heal physically and also spiritually. Today I request that you pray for our patients. Pray that every patient who, we saw is able to address their physical problems but more importantly. Pray that they put their faith in God and acknowledge that he will guide them through the toughest times, as well as the best of times. While efforts amazed me this year, the members’ faith amazed me even more. This I recognized on the final day of clinic. Thank you.
by Kyle Kevorkian
Day 7- Our official first day of clinic at Stephanavan!
Today we had scheduled 330+ patients, so it was another extremely busy day for everyone. It was amazing though to see everyone working together and adapting so well to the change of environment.
The Stephanavan clinic is always more difficult than the Vanadzor clinic for a few reasons. First, the Church where our clinic is held is only one massive hall and the doctors are all located in a totally different building a short walk away. Having the vital station, urine station, triage station, EKG station, and pharmacy in one large sanctuary is no simple feat. That coupled with the sanctuary having only one entrance and exit makes crowd control a living nightmare.
I got lucky. I had to handle crowd control today in the clinic and it was truly an experience but thankfully I was able to deal with it well and the patients responded well to my directions. It’s actually a very enjoyable job for me since I get to exert some control and authority, which always feels good, and also you get lots of bachigs (kisses) from the little old ladies who are, strangely enough, so thankful that you are there telling them where to sit down next.
That’s one of the aspects of clinic which makes it so amazing. Sure there are always the ones who come back to the doctors, barging in to ask for more medicine that they don’t need, but for the most part, the people are so thankful for everything that we do at the clinic.
It’s truly amazing to see all of the team members interacting with the patients in various manners and to see how God uses each and every one of us in a different way to touch these patients and help them know God.
Today, I hope you will pray that He continues to work through us and I hope that you can find time to pray that everything we do here touches each and every patient and aids in the growth of God’s kingdom.
Thank you so much!