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St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church Conors 50 Years in Wynnewood, Pa

In a gala anniversary weekend, the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob parish celebrated 50 years in its current church building in Wynnewood, PA. Through half a century of growth and activity, the castle-like church has been the focal point of community life for the West Philadelphia Armenian community, and a well-known and highly regarded presence in the surrounding society.

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PRESS OFFICE
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Chris Zakian
Tel: (212) 686-0710; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: chrisz@armeniandiocese.org
Website: www.armenianchurch-ed.net
October 28, 2013
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ST. SAHAG AND ST. MESROB CHURCH HONORS 50 YEARS IN WYNNEWOOD, PA
In a gala anniversary weekend, the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob parish celebrated 50 years in its current church building in Wynnewood, PA. Through half a century of growth and activity, the castle-like church has been the focal point of community life for the West Philadelphia Armenian community, and a well-known and highly regarded presence in the surrounding society.
The commemorative events began in suitably spiritual style on Saturday, October 19, when two young men of the parish were ordained as altar servers of the church. In a solemn ceremony, Loutfig Arabatlian was ordained as an acolyte, and Steven Keytanjian was ordained as a sub-deacon, by the hand of Diocesan Primate Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.

A reception in honor of the occasion followed, where the newly-ordained altar servers were congratulated by family and friends in the parish.
“Steve and Lou are two young Armenians who have been deeply inspired by their service to the church, and have made a spiritual home here,” said St. Sahag and St. Mesrob’s pastor the Very Rev. Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian. “Our church is very proud of their achievement.”
Later that evening, a dance in the beautifully renovated church hall brought together several generations of parishioners—some of whom had traveled from out of town especially for the weekend.
The feeling of an anniversary reunion of families and friends continued into Sunday, as the community gathered in the church’s sun-lit sanctuary for the Divine Liturgy.

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was the celebrant and delivered a homily on the season of the Holy Cross, and on the way the cross of Christ has inspired more than four generations of worshippers at St. Sahag and St. Mesrob.
“This parish started out in West Philadelphia, in a neighborhood where the immigrant Armenian families lived and worked close to one another,” the Primate observed. “But fifty years ago, the people of this church were faced with a choice. They had built a vital Armenian community—and were proud of that fact. A whole new generation had grown up together, and formed a tight-knit group—an extended family.”
The community was growing and changing, he said; and that momentum inspired the founders of the parish to locate a new sanctuary which would serve the future needs of the parish.

“It was a difficult choice, and it took great courage and foresight to make the decision,” said the Primate. “But in the end, your founders realized that in our mission as the Armenian Church in America, we must always look forward, and pursue growth. Your new church became the anchor for a whole new community—as Armenian families began to move into the surrounding towns, into the orbit of the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church in Wynnewood. And as you moved to this area, you brought the Armenian Christian spirit with you.”
To conclude the service, Archbishop Barsamian led a veneration prayer for the “Relic of St. Vartan the Brave”—a gift to the Eastern Diocese from His Holiness Karekin II, the Catholicos of All Armenians—which the Primate had brought with him from the Diocesan Center in New York.
Following services, the crowd adjourned to the church hall for a beautiful anniversary banquet, over which the Primate presided. Also present for the occasion was Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate.
In the banquet program, Steven Barsamian served as master of ceremonies, offering a toast for the occasion before Marie Azadian officially welcomed the crowd on behalf of the parish’s 50th anniversary committee.
Parish pastor Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian offered remarks, as did parish council chairman Robert Zakian. Archbishop Aykazian also spoke.

The St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Junior Choir, under the direction of Maestro Khoren Mekanejian, the Diocesan music ministry director, delighted the crowd with a performance of two classic Armenian selections.
A video “photo montage” prepared by Fr. Gulgulian transported attendees back through 50 years of activity at the church: from the purchase of the property through five decades-worth of parish events. Viewers were especially touched to see the faces of many departed members, as well as living parishioners in their earlier days.
The parish also presented its 2013 “Stewardship Award” to three outstanding parishioners who have been exemplary and inspirational figures throughout these past 50 years. The honorees in this special anniversary year were Helen Amirian, Deacon Minas Mihranian, and Laura Zakian—each of whom received heartfelt applause from the audience as they came forward to be recognized.
As a capstone to the banquet, longtime parish leader John Eskandarian received the “St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal,” conferred by His Holiness Karekin II. Archbishop Barsamian presented the award to Mr. Eskandarian on behalf of the Catholicos, and commended the honoree’s devotion to the youth of the parish.
John Eskandarian’s work in the parish, and the important role he has played in the life of its youth for several decades, were the subject of personal reflections delivered by Fr. Gulgulian, Steve Barsamian, and Alex Topakbashian. Finally, Mr. Eskandarian himself approached the podium with his wife Opy beside him, to express his gratitude in the humble, self-effacing manner so characteristic of his long service to the Wynnewood parish.
The Primate concluded the afternoon with his warm congratulations and blessings.
As a special gift to each attendee, the organizing committee produced a beautiful commemorative book, some 90 pages in length, filled with historical information and photos of the people and events of the parish over the past half-century and more.
The splendid two-day anniversary event was co-chaired by Migirdich and Marie Azadian and Robert and Nanette Zakian. Organizing committee members included Alma Alabilikian, Laraine Ballard, Elizabeth Barsamian, Steve Barsamian, Julyet Degirmenci, Nadine Hoplamazian, Jovia Keytanjian, Lisa Manookian, and Robin Williams.
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Photos attached.
Photo 1: Archbishop Barsamian presents parishioner John Eskandarian with the St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal.
Photo 2: “Stewardship Award” recipient Helen Amirian with Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.
Photo 3: “Stewardship Award” recipient Deacon Minas Mihranian with Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.
Photo 4: “Stewardship Award” recipient Laura Zakian with Fr. Oshagan Gulgulian and Archbishop Khajag Barsamian.
Photo 5: Parishioners at the anniversary banquet at St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Church.

PublicRelations [publicrelations@armeniandiocese.org]

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