Memorial Church Centennial to Be Marked


Caption: The committee for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown meets in preparation.They are (back, l to r) Anahid Salakian, Laura Nabedian, Sarkis Salakian, Grace Kent and Arpie Nigoghosian Evans and (front, l to r) Co-chair Libby Sabounjian, Betty Boole and Co-chair Phyllis Dohanian.

Caption: The committee for the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown meets in preparation.They are (back, l to r) Anahid Salakian, Laura Nabedian, Sarkis Salakian, Grace Kent and Arpie Nigoghosian Evans and (front, l to r) Co-chair Libby Sabounjian, Betty Boole and Co-chair Phyllis Dohanian.

WATERTOWN — The Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a commemorative banquet at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Woburn on Saturday evening September 26, and a special service and reception on Sunday morning, September 27. Former pastors, church leaders from the Armenian Evangelical Union and the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and clergy from community Watertown churches will join the congregation at both events.

Keynote speakers for Saturday evening will be present pastor Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian and former pastor Rev. Dr. Ron Tovmassian of the United Armenian Church of Hollywood, Calif. Soprano Kate Norigian accompanied by pianist John Norigian will present vocal selections. Harpist Sevan Sarian and violinist Mary Richardson will serenade during the cocktail hour, and guitarist John Baboian and his ensemble will perform  in the dining room.

Rev. Laura Everett, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. and Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, former pastor and executive director of the Armenian Evangelical World Council,  will deliver the sermons Sunday morning, The commemorative service will include special music under director of music June Baboian as well as communion and the reception of new members. Following the service, the congregation will assemble in front of the Church to bury an anniversary time capsule. The day will conclude with a festive reception and refreshments in the Abrahamian social hall.

Phyllis Dohanian of Belmont and Libby Sabounjian of Wilmington co-chaired the anniversary committee with Betty Boole of Waltham, Arpie Nigoghosian Evans of Nashua, NH, Grace Kent of Wilmington, Laura Nabedian of Bedford, and Anahid and Sarkis Salakian of Watertown.

The Church’s origins trace back to  seven Armenian immigrants from Marash, Turkey in 1897, and the gathering of more immigrant Armenian Protestant families who cherished their faith and began meeting for Bible studies. In 1915, they incorporated under the Massachusetts Congregational Church under the name Cilician Armenian Memorial Church:  “Cilician” because they had come from the Cilicia region of Turkey and “Memorial” for the friends and loved ones lost in the Armenian genocide of 1915.  The newly formed church began holding Sunday afternoon services at the Shawmut Congregational Church in the South End of Boston and later at churches in Cambridge. Finally, in the late 1940’s the congregation had accumulated enough money to buy a property on 32 Bigelow Avenue in Watertown and built its own church. Construction began in 1950, and the first service in the sanctuary has held on November 4, 1950.

From its humble start, the Armenian Memorial Church has grown into a vibrant Christian community spanning many generations.  While the Armenian Memorial Church has been a congregation dedicated to its Christian values, it has extended its reach through missions to the community and the world. Its 100th anniversary celebration marks “A Century of Faith.”