The seeds of what would eventually become the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Greater Boston were first sown in the years 1891-1892 by a small group of Armenian immigrants who began to gather in worship together on Sunday afternoons at Boston’s Berkeley Temple under the leadership of several ministers and lay preachers.
The American Congregational Association took notice of this group of worshippers and, in 1899, allowed the growing Armenian congregation to hold services at its Pilgrim Hall, located on Park Street, Boston, where they remained for a number of years. In 1908, the church was formally organized as “First Armenian Church of Boston”. Services continued at the Park Street location until 1929, when the congregation purchased its own church building in Porter Square, Cambridge.
First Armenian Church flourished as a Sunday School was established and the Christian Endeavor Society was started for the youth. The Ladies Aid Society demonstrated God’s heart for missions by founding a kindergarten for Armenian refugee children in Beirut, Lebanon.
Things continued along very well until 1954 brought Hurricanes Carol and Edna, which sent the fifty-foot steeple crashing through the roof, leaving the church building beyond repair. However, this did not deter the Church, or its resilient people of God; they pressed on and continued to thrive and grow.
For the next four years the First Armenian congregation continued to worship and function by utilizing the neighboring churches. In 1955, an opportunity presented itself to purchase land on Concord Avenue, in Belmont. Construction of a church building was completed and services began at our current Belmont location on September 14, 1958.
1962 brought First Armenian Church’s 70th anniversary celebration, which was held in the newly constructed “Nahigian Hall”, built for fellowship and education, along with additional offices and Sunday School classrooms. A few years later, in 1968, a Parsonage was added next door to the church to provide housing for the minister.
First Armenian Church continued to grow and serve the Christian and Armenian communities right up to 1991, a year that marked the beginning of the church’s centennial. In celebration of this milestone anniversary, the congregation initiated a fundraising campaign, "Securing the Future". The culmination of this campaign occurred in 1992 when world-renowned organist Berj Zamkochian presented a concert in the Sanctuary.
On April 26, 1992, the Khatchkar (Stone Cross), located on the front lawn of First Armenian Church, was unveiled. The tufa stone for this Khatchkar was flown from Yerevan, Armenia, and carved on the premises of the church. It was formally placed in the spot where it still stands today as a part of the 100th anniversary celebration and dedicated to the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide. The clergy of all the Armenian churches in the community at large attended on this special day of dedication.
The next big happening occurred in 2002- 2003 as the congregation of the church planned and completed renovation of the church’s parsonage with a major fund-raising effort, making it a more updated and comfortable residence for the minister.
2012 brings us to the 120th anniversary celebration, which saw the congregation and surrounding community coming together to celebrate once again another milestone in the life of First Armenian Church. Funds raised from this commemoration helped to initiate much needed restoration projects within the church, including major renovations in the Sanctuary. On November 2, 2014, with the sanctuary completed and looking brand new, a special concert was held by musicians Glenn Priest and Chris Garven to dedicate the newly restored space.
April 26th, 2015, brought the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which was held jointly with our sister church, Armenian Memorial Church of Watertown. A wreath-laying ceremony at the Khatchkar followed the worship service; prayers were spoken, songs were sung, and immortal thoughts and memories echoed the words engraved on the Khatchkar: “Armenian people live forever with Christ”.
The First Armenian Church has been blessed over 123 years to have had 18 ministers who served the Lord Jesus by shepherding members and friends of the congregation.
God has been gracious and faithful to sustain us and to continue to mold us ever more into the image of His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We eagerly join him as He continues to write our history by His Holy Spirit through us.
To Him be the glory!