Inauguration of the new AMAA Ministry Center building in Stepanavan

By Rev. L. Nishan Bakalian, Church Relations Coordinator, Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East

AMAA Stepanavan Center

On July 3, 2022, foreign visitors and local church members traveled to northern Armenia, to the city of Stepanavan, to offer praises to God for his many blessings, especially for a trio of observances: the dedication of the Armenian missionary the newly constructed building of the Ministry Center of the Association of America (AMAA), the inauguration of the renovated building of the Evangelical Church of Armenia (ECA) and the service of praise and action thanks be to God on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church.

Children dancing at the inauguration of the AMAA Stepanavan center

All three events were supposed to take place a year ago, when the construction and reconstruction works were completed, but due to the global pandemic, everything was postponed. Nonetheless, AMAA staff and church volunteers were on hand and ready to greet the busloads of people and guide them to the stairs of the Center. A group of young girls in traditional costumes from the AMAA center dance group performed a graceful Armenian dance to open the ceremony. Invoking Psalm 127:1, AMAA President Dr. Nazareth Darakjian issued words of defiance to keep God as the foundation of the Center’s work, while AMAA Executive Director Zaven Khanjian spoke words of gratitude to the benefactors who wished to honor the memory of three generations of their ancestors, all for the good of Armenia today. CEA Senior Pastor, Reverend Bishop Melkonian, offered a prayer of dedication for the work that has already begun and will continue at this facility. The ribbon was cut and the commemorative plaque was unveiled. Center workers have started taking visitors to visit the building’s myriad facilities, which cater to the needs of Stepanavan’s children in academics, arts, as well as social and psychological needs.

Zaven Khanjian thanks the donors of the Stepanavan Center

The group had to cross the field to get to the church sanctuary as the worship service was about to begin. Church pastor Rev. Hrant Badalyan opened the service with prayer and led the entire service, while the choir and pianist led the congregation in singing the doxology, “Fairest Lord Jesus” and “The Church’s One Foundation”. Attendees included pastors from all of the Armenian Evangelical Unions, beginning with Reverend Joel Mikaelian’s greetings to all members of the congregation on behalf of the Armenian Evangelical World Council (AEWC).

Dr. Nazareth Darakjian brought a special message to the service, reminding the church that God does not reside in man-made structures, but in the hearts of the people who make up the church. Khanjian urged the church to make it a goal to develop Christian character in young and old and bring those virtues to help guide the Armenian nation in the ways of God. Following these words, Rev. Dr. Haroutune Selimian delivered a dedicatory prayer for the 175th anniversary of the Armenian Evangelical Church and its mission.

Focusing on the dedication of the renovated church building, Reverend Albert Paytyan, Chairman of ECA, presented a historical account of the Armenian Evangelical community in Stepanavan, dating back over a century ago , and noting that the Church of Stepanavan was the first church structure. which will be built by AMAA in Armenia. Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian’s moving dedication prayer for the church brought every aspect of the Armenian Evangelical Community of Stepanavan’s worship life before God, asking that the Holy Spirit be present in every moment of their collective life and individual.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In his sermon, Reverend Badalyan applied the message “Where is the Christ? (Rev. 3:20) to the special occasions celebrated on that day, as well as to the individual lives of believers each day. With humor and conviction, he spoke of the ways in which Christians prevent Christ from entering their inner world and urged all to be warm to the Lord as the key to the vitality of the local and global church.

By closing the service with the singing of the Our Father, the hundreds of people present expressed their unity in Christ and their love for the Armenian nation. After the end of the service, the enthusiastic interaction between congregants continued, while visitation resumed next door. A generous table was set for visitors to lunch and fellowship, with singers performing Armenian songs and bringing hosts and guests to their feet in Armenian dance. After exchanging farewells and promises to meet again in Armenia, the participants began their long journey back to Yerevan and beyond, with the praises of God in their hearts for these blessed days.

Guests at the opening of the AMAA Stepanavan center

Armenian Missionary Association of America

The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) was founded in 1918 in Worcester, MA, and incorporated as a nonprofit charitable organization in 1920 in New York State. We are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Our goal is to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people everywhere, both at home and abroad. To fulfill this global mission, we maintain a range of education, evangelism, relief, social service, church and childcare ministries in 24 countries around the world.

Armenian Missionary Association of America

Barry F. Howard