By Dr. Robert Kachadourian
In January 2014, the Armenian Heritage Committee published Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian’s 36th book, entitled My Life Journey. The book is a compilation of the walk of a clergyman, author, educator, lecturer, and family man.
Education was always important in Rev. Tootikian’s journey, even from the earliest days of. His K-12, university, and post-graduate work were hallmarks of his career in academia. Dr. Tootikian was born in Kessab, Syria, a city filled with history and a wonderful place to grow up, as he describes it. I would venture to say that it prepared the author for his life’s journey. Throughout the text, his joy for learning—his joie de vivre—literally “jumps” out at the reader. Rev. Tootikian’s lifelong quest for learning resulted not only in this book but the previous 35.
A portion of the book is like reading the current events of that particular period. For example, the era of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser is referenced with interesting anecdotes. Dr. Tootikian was there during this tense time when Egypt and Syria became the United Arab Republic. This caused political and personal repercussions for many. His experiences are enlightening and give the reader the history of what happened through the eyes of someone who was there.
My Life Journey also encapsulates his experiences in his pastorates from Damascus to Detroit. There were stops in between, such as in Cairo, Egypt and Watertown, Mass. Since most of Dr. Tootikian’s pastoral journey have been in the United States, it would be remiss to not reference his story on these shores. Upon his arrival he immediately pursued his lifelong love of education. Attaining various degrees, which culminated in a doctorate, he began his service to the Armenian Memorial Church in Watertown. There, Dr. Tootikian served not only his church but the Armenian community at large.
Upon arriving in the Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit (in Southfield, Mich.), Dr. Tootikian again immersed himself in church activities and served the community. There’s a theme here. He has served the Armenian community wherever he has gone.
My Life Journey exemplifies his role as a “lifelong learner” and his accomplishments in academia. It’s a study of service through committees, councils, seminars, forums, and a plethora of groups all dedicated to the betterment of mankind.
My Life Journey is not merely a report of one’s experiences; it’s an examination of a life that is on a mission. The mission to serve others in the name of Our Lord. This is manifested in every ministerial position Dr. Tootikian has held in this nation.
We must not stop with the pastorates of Watertown and Southfield. His influence extends from coast to coast. Dr. Tootikian has served as moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America four times; served the Armenian Evangelical World Council (AEWC) as secretary and president; and since 2003, has been serving AEWC as its executive director.
In sum, My Life Journey is a history of not only Dr. Tootikian’s journey, but the one he had with all he encountered along the way. It’s a journey he now shares in written form, and it’s a journey that others need to be acquainted with.
This 394-page autobiographical hardcover book may be obtained by writing to the Armenian Heritage Committee, 3922 Yorba Linda Blvd., Royal Oak, MI 48073.