About St. John Garabed Armenian Church
Armenian families began to settle in the San Diego area in the 1920's. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated in San Diego in 1965 by The Rev. Fr. Shahé Semerdjian at St. Andrew Church in La Mesa. In 1970, the Diocese appointed a Parish Council under the chairmanship of Parsegh Khoybesserian. On December 14, 1973, the Armenian Apostolic Church of San Diego was officially established. The first elected Parish Council was sworn in by His Eminence Archbishop Vatché Hovsepian, Primate of Western Diocese, with Vahakn Hart serving as the first Council Chairman and Bart Baron as the first Parish Assembly Chairman. It became an integral, administrative and canonical part of the Armenian Church of North America, Western Diocese on December 27, 1973. On July 7, 1977, at a Special Parish Assembly, presided by His Eminence Archbishop Vatché Hovsepian, 25 members of the Parish voted in favor of purchasing the present at 4473 30 th Street in San Diego. At a Fund Raising Banquet, chaired by Robert Agejeenian on September 17, 1977, contributions exceeded $50,000. The acquisition of the property became a reality when two members of the Parish Council, Vartan Khosharian and Noubar Markarian acted as guarantors of the loan. The first services in our Church were held on November 27, 1977, with The Rev. Fr. Shahé Semerdjian officiating. Soon after, the late Rev. Fr. Krikor Hairabedian brought his wisdom and spiritual leadership as a Visiting Clergyman to our community and was formally appointed Parish Priest in 1979. Now, better organized and working harmoniously to further our faith and culture, our community reached another landmark in 1981, when the Church was consecrated by His Eminence Archbishop Vatché Hovsepian. The Markarian family who had recently immigrated from Jerusalem, pledged to be the Godfather of the Church, named henceforth St. John Garabed Armenian Church (Soorp Hovhannoo-Garabed). In 1983, The Rev. Fr. Levon Avak Kahana Arakelian assumed the Pastorship of St. John Garabed Church and continued to serve until his retirement in 1989. In June of 1990, The Rev. Fr. Datev Tatoulian was appointed Parish Priest and moved from Reedley, California, where he had served for fifteen years. Shortly after his arrival, the first Baku Armenians began migrating to the San Diego Area. Fr. Datev with the aid of faithful church members, embarked on the task of welcoming and assisting these new community members. In 1991 a Saturday Armenian Language School began offering instructional classes in history, language, dance, music and recitations. This newest organization breathed new life into the community. At the present classes continue to be offered every Saturday between 10:30-1:00, with new students enrolling on a steady basis. The Sunday School and Armenian Church Youth Organization (ACYO) was revitalized, reorganizing and establishing new executive bodies. The Youth Organization within our Parish continues to flourish dictating the need for additional classroom space. In 1996 the adjacent building was renovated to accommodate 2 additional classes. Donations made from the estate of the late Dirouhi Jingozian, a founding member of the Parish, financed the project. In November 1996 the building was dedicated to the Dirouhi Jingozian Youth Center. In 1995 a group of concerned Church members organized themselves to look to the future of the community. The new committee's point of business was to retire the mortgage on the property, which took place on June 3, 1995. A Gala Mortgage Burning Banquet was held in the Red Lion Hotel. On Sunday, June 4 at a wine and cheese brunch, the mortgage was officially burned, the Church was on its way to securing its future. A new Church Building Committee, recently established, is actively seeking property for a new site for the Home of the Armenian People of San Diego. In November 2005, St. John Garabed celebrated its 28 th Anniversary. Our Church continues as the inextinguishable beacon of our people not only spiritually, but also culturally and socially. The Ladies' Society, the Choir, the ACYO, Sunday School, Armenian School and Social Service Groups; and the resolute leadership of our Pastor, The Rev. Archpriest Fr. Datev Tatoulian and the Parish Council, we continue to work together productively toward the enlightened growth of our Parish.