This February, the Armenian congregation in Glendale, California, made history as the first Armenian-speaking Adventist congregation officially organized in the Western hemisphere. Los Angeles is home to the densest population of Armenians in the United States, with more than 40 percent of the 200,000-plus people in Glendale claiming Armenian ancestry.*
“Adventist churches in our conference reflect the amazing diversity of Southern California,” observed Danny Chan, Southern California Conference (SCC) L.A. Metro Region director.
A special service highlighted the rich history and dedicated mission behind this congregation. Throughout the event, tributes were shared about the important work of this congregation in the Armenian community, as well as the historical foundation to that work. Three new members also joined the company by baptism during the program.
Leaders throughout the denomination recognized the special event, and letters were read from Ricardo Graham, Pacific Union Conference president; Tony Anobile, North American Division (NAD) director of Multilingual Ministries; G. Alexander Bryant, NAD president; and Ted Wilson, General Conference (GC) president. Karnik Doukmetzian, GC general counsel, was present to bring greetings from the GC. “I guess we could have done it by video, but as an Armenian, to give up this opportunity is just simply unheard of,” he shared.
The group started meeting at the Hollywood church in 1977. Hovik Saraffian, pastor of the congregation from 1983 to 2017, and now retired, spent many years pouring himself into the ministry this congregation provides to the Armenian community in Southern California. “The motivating part was that this is the only Seventh-day Adventist Armenian group outside of Armenia proper in all the world,” he stated.
This motivation has kept the congregation alive for more than 40 years. In 1981, the congregation began to meet in Glendale City church (GCC), and in 2017, Vigen Khachatryan joined the congregation as its leader.
Reflecting on the occasion, Khachatryan shared special thanks to God, SCC, and GCC for the help and support through the years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Khachatryan has led the congregation in tremendous growth through online ministry. “Our work for the community is done mostly through social media,” he shared. “We try to help people who are sick or frightened by the virus, or in distress because of the pandemic, to rely on God’s promises.”
Velino A. Salazar, SCC president, has supported this congregation throughout their ministry. Looking forward, he focused on the mission that lies ahead for this now-organized company.
“We need to emphasize that Jesus came to this earth to save people,” Salazar shared, “not just for eternity in the future, but now from suffering and anguish. We find that message of hope in the Holy Scriptures. May the Lord continue using you to share what people need — they need a Savior.”
— Lauren Lacson is communication director of the Southern California Conference; this article originally appeared on the Adventist Faith (Pacific Union Conference) website.