PARAMUS, N.J.—The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) held the opening of its Evangelical Center on Baghramian Ave. in Yerevan on April 19. Numerous government officials, leaders of various churches and nonprofit organizations, and foreign ambassadors were present to share in the joy of this event. The festivities continued into the evening, when young musicians of the Armenian Evangelical Church amazed numerous guests with their heartfelt and professional performances.
Celebrating another “Together, We Can Build Miracles” campaign achievement, the grand opening of the Evangelical Center is a demonstration of the exemplary support from devoted donors. The AMAA continues to realize significant successes with this fundraising initiative.
“For many years we have been dreaming of coming to our historical Motherland, and only after our beloved Armenia gained independence in 1991 has our dream come true,” said Andrew Torigian, the executive director of the AMAA, which since the devastating 1988 earthquake, continues to help thousands of Armenian children and impoverished people through various charitable, social, educational, and medical programs. The Armenian Evangelical Church has existed for over 160 years, and the AMAA is over 90 years old.
Rev. Dr. Rene Leonian, the president of the Evangelical Church of Armenia and a representative of Hope for Armenia and the AMAA in Armenia, said: “Our aim is, together with various institutions acting in Armenia today, to support in the best possible way the upbringing in Armenia of new, worthy generations, full of hope, and the creation of conditions for all of us to be good citizens of our Motherland, to live in freedom, realizing the happiness—in spite of all our hardships—of being an Armenian.” Rev. Leonian thanked the Armenian government especially for their support of the AMAA’s many programs.
“The opening of a place of worship in this particular building is quite remarkable,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie L. Yovanovitch in her congratulatory speech. Yovanovitch reminded all present that the U.S. Embassy in Armenia was located in this building from 1992 to 2005. “The history of this building really reflects the positive development of Armenia itself, which in 18 short years has evolved from a Soviet republic to a newly independent state that today is working to consolidate the fruits of democracy and economic development. This building will always occupy a special place in the view of the U.S. government because, while the American people and the Armenian people have had a long relationship with each other, it’s here that the USA and Armenia started their diplomatic relations that continue to evolve and strengthen. As you know, one of the key democratic principles the United States espouses, and which the U.S. government promotes around the world, is freedom of religion. As the birthplace of Christianity, Armenia occupies a special place in the history of world religions. It’s also known as a nation of tolerance that respects the faith of other peoples, and we hope the Armenian government continues to do its utmost to promote Armenia as a place of tolerance and respect towards other peoples’ cultures, beliefs, and faiths.”
Yovanovitch expressed her hope that the center “will do its own work to strengthen the dialogue, mutual understanding, and respect between all the faiths that today peacefully coexist in Armenia.”
The renovation to the 60-year-old buildings in the complex began in June 2006 and continues at a rapid pace, thanks to the efforts of prominent local and American Armenian specialists including Gagik Galstyan, president of the Union of Builders of Armenia and of the Horizon-95 construction company; Hrach Sargsyan, president of the MKO OJS air-conditioning firm; Antranig M. Ouzoonian, the chief structural engineer; Norayr Avagyan, a member of Union of Architects of Armenia; and Armand P. Avakian, the chief architect of the AMAA and construction projects manager. All were awarded special plaques by Torigian on behalf of the AMAA.