Residents of Lernanist village in Armenia’s Kotayk province gathered last fall for the consecration of a newly renovated 19th-century church. The renovation was made possible by two deacons in the Boston area who carried out the project in memory of their late father, Krikor Hachikian.
Dn. Varoujan Hachikian and his brother Dn. Zakar Hachikian—both of whom serve at Sts. Vartanants Church of Chelmsford, Mass., and Hye Pointe Church of Haverhill, Mass.—first decided to take up the task of renovating Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church a few years ago, at the request of His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.
The work included building a new altar and bell tower, replacing the roof and windows, reinforcing the interior and exterior walls and the foundation of the structure, and replacing the floor. The brothers also commissioned a new church bell from Russia and provided a new altar icon, vestments and liturgical vessels, books, rugs, and other furnishings.
On Oct. 27, 2012, Bishop Arakel Karamian, Primate of the Diocese of Kotayk, consecrated the house of worship. Bishop Karamian placed a special stone above the main entrance of the church in memory of Krikor Hachikian.
Dn. Zakar Hachikian and his wife Gayane traveled to Lernanist village to take part in the service. Hundreds of local residents, government officials, and other dignitaries attended the service and the banquet that followed. A traditional blessing of madagh was also held, and some of the residents and guests were baptized.
The Lernanist village (known as Verin Akhta until 1978), with a population of 4,000, is home to the descendants of Armenian settlers from Van, who first erected a small chapel, named Sourp Hagop, on the site of the present church. As the village population rose, Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church was built to meet the needs of the growing community. The new church was consecrated in 1906, but was shut down by the Soviet regime in 1932. The sanctuary was used to store grain, and was later converted into a function hall for weddings and other events.
Since the opening of the Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church last fall, services and sacraments are performed on a regular basis. Bishop Karamian has appointed an interim pastor for Lernanist, and a permanent priest is expected to serve the parish in the near future.
Meanwhile, the Hachikian brothers have taken up another renovation project, a 7th-century church in Talin, Armenia, which they expect to complete by the fall of 2013. This project is dedicated to the memory of Armenians who lost their lives in Pontic Amasia between 1894 and 1923.