‘Experiences’ by Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian

Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian, Pastor Emeritus of the Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit (ACCGD), has a new book to his credit—his 39th, which deals with his many years of experience as a teacher and a man of the cloth.

Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian

The book is dedicated to the Armenian Congregational Church of Greater Detroit on its centennial anniversary—“The church I served as minister from 1975-2005; as interim minister from 2012-2013; and since 2005 as Minister Emeritus; the church where most of my pastoral experience took place,” says Tootikian.

In his generosity, Badveli Tootikian created many happy recipients of Experiences, which he gave to those attending a recent function at the ACCGD. He signed each book with a personalized message.

The cover of Experiences

As in previous publications, they are bilingual, in English and Armenian. They describe different topics dealing with Rev. Tootikian’s personal and professional experiences, which he says “cannot be borrowed from others, because they are part and parcel of our beings.”

The pastor is a man to be respected on many levels particularly for his true faith as a Christian Armenian. He possesses the credibility to be inspirational, to be truly believed.

Among the book’s 31 chapters, you’ll find “Christian Behavior In Church,” “The Act Of Comforting,” “Go Fly A Kite,” “Looking At Ourselves,” “Alcholism,” “What Kind of Church Do People Prefer,” and “Honesty and Integrity,   topics that should and can be thought provoking to a mindful reader. That’s why you should take advantage of this latest book. Try it, you will like it for the sound advice and insight to the experiences of the man who has lived a full life in service to Christianity and many Armenian communities.

He asks, “What does it take to be a good witness for Christ? Answer: An important characteristic of a genuine witness is credibility with personal knowledge of the circumstances.”

You will be drawn to certain chapters such as “New Year’s Wishes.” His addresses to local churches include “The need to develop sympathy for others; make the church open to the world—for youth, middle-aged, and senior citizens.”

I believe the message he realizes the Armenian Church needs to be cognizant of is that it has the need to reach out more to its people, not to just always be taking but also giving back, to be there when they are hurting and need moral and perhaps even financial support. Armenians are people of pride and for the most part do not want their personal vulnerability to be of public knowledge, even to a clergyman. We are, after all only human. If the church is supposed to be “family” why are they not there to give support? Armenians are not made of stone. If anyone bears the suffering of their ancestors, it is the Armenians.

To fellow ministers, he wishes their goal would be to serve God with loving hearts and gratitude for the privilege of serving. There is no doubt Badveli has followed his own advice in this matter.

He continues: “I wish you would be positive people who won’t allow anyone or anything to cripple your dreams and paralyze your hopes.” This he directs to the community and national leaders and there are people who should heed this advice.

He is emphatic about bringing Christ back into Christmas and all the positive aspects that would have on everyone’s lives.

Like others, Rev. Tootikian has had his share of personal pain and when we ask “Lord why me?” We can only accept our fate and move forward in life as almost impossible it is. Badveli lost his first wife to a serious illness leaving him with three daughters, which now are adults and have brought honor to him. Rosette came into his life and together project love for each other, for the Lord, and for the community they continue to be a vital part.

Before arriving in Detroit, the proud Kessabtsi served as pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Damascus, and as the principal of the local school. His ministry then took him to Cairo, followed by his arrival in the U.S., where he served the Armenian memorial Church of Watertown, Mass. Detroit hit the jackpot when he came here to serve the Armenian Congregational Church of Southfield.

He has served as a teacher, community leader, and administrator. The life he leads is exemplary, one of high standards, which all people should endeavor to strive for, to elevate themselves.

As a visionary, Badveli hopes young Armenians will seek out other Armenians with which to wed to keep the Armenian genes continued. As the film The Promise conveys, “our revenge is to survive.”

Through it all, Badveli remains a down to earth humble man who most likely will grimace at accolades laden at his feet. Badveli and Rosette are a welcome asset to the Detroit Armenian community as well as wherever they travel around the world. They are respectfully greeted with open arms.

To the credit of Rev. Tootikian and wife Rosette, they can be found supporting activities of the entire Detroit Armenian community. Badveli has participated in church services of all the local Armenian houses of worship without discrimination, setting an example of togetherness for all Armenians to follow. Who better to set that example than a man of the cloth, someone from centuries long ago Armenians in their villages always looked up to for spiritual guidance and leadership?

Rev. Dr. Tootikian is a graduate of the Near East School of Theology. He did graduate work at Hartford, Harvard, and Andover Newton Theological Seminary earning two masters and a doctorate. He has been a lecturer at Lawrence Technological University and also at the University of Michigan. He is Executive Director of The Armenian Evangelical World Council.

He has membership in many educational, religious, and philanthropic organizations.

His authored books are currently used as college textbooks in North America and overseas. He has been actively involved in bringing attention to the plight of and raising funds for the Armenians of Syria.

From Kessab, to Egypt, to highly respected American universities, to Watertown, and finally to the Motor City, may Rev. Dr. Vahan h. Tootikian continue to shine his bright light on those of us privileged to be part of his life.

The book is a publication of the Armenian Heritage Committee and can be ordered by writing to:

3922 Yorba Linda Blvd
Royal Oak, Mi. 48073

Price: $25.00 – s & h add $3.50


Betty Apigian-Kessel

Betty (Serpouhie) Apigian Kessel was born in Pontiac, Mich. Together with her husband, Robert Kessel, she was the proprietor of Woodward Market in Pontiac and has two sons, Bradley and Brant Kessel. She belonged to the St. Sarkis Ladies Guild for 12 years, serving as secretary for many of those years. During the aftermath of the earthquake in Armenia in 1988, the Detroit community selected her to be the English-language secretary and she happily dedicated her efforts to help the earthquake victims. She has a column in the Armenian Weekly entitled “Michigan High Beat.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.