PARAMUS, N.J.—Elizabeth Agbabian, past Board member, benefactor, Life Member of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), and respected longtime activist in the Armenian Evangelical Community and the Armenian American Community at large, was recently awarded the Movses Khorenatsi Medal by Republic of Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian, on the 99th Anniversary of the First Republic.
The President’s award decree reads: “Guided by the 2005 amendments to Article 55, paragraph 16 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, and based on the Law of the Republic of Armenia on state awards and honorary titles of the Republic, I have decided; On the occasion of the Day of the Republic, to award philanthropist Elizabeth Agbabian(USA) for her contribution to the preservation of the Armenian identity, with the Movses Khorenatsi Medal.”
The Movses Khorenatsi Medal is the Republic of Armenia’s highest cultural award. It is presented by the President to those who have significantly contributed to the advancement of Armenian culture in the spheres of culture, art, literature, education, social sciences and sports.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon to Reverend Hovhannes and Aznive Apkarian, Elizabeth Apkarian Agbabian earned a B.A. degree in Social Work and has worked as a trained social worker first in Cleveland, OH and then in Los Angeles, Calif., where she has lived since her marriage to Dr. Mihran Agbabian in 1953.
Elizabeth has been active at the United Armenian Congregational Church and has served on the Boards of the Armenian Missionary Association of America and the Armenian Evangelical Social Service Center. She was a founding Co-Chair of the AMAA’s Orphan and Child Care Committee, which was formed soon after the devastating December 7, 1988 earthquake in Armenia and has continued to serve on the Committee for over 28 years. She has visited Armenia frequently to view firsthand the living conditions of the children. Elizabeth was also a founding member of the Haigazian University Women’s Auxiliary and the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School’s Women’s Auxiliary with the late Rev. Dr. Movses Janbazian, then Executive Director of the AMAA, and Zaven Khanjian, then Chairman of the Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School.
Elizabeth is also one of the co-founders of the Armenian International Women’s Association (AIWA-LA), a non-profit organization dedicated in promoting and enriching the lives of Armenian women worldwide. Along with her committee members, she was also supportive of many groundbreaking initiatives on the West coast including the opening of Armenia’s Consulate General in Los Angeles. With her husband Dr. Mihran Agbabian, founding President of the American University of Armenia, Elizabeth has played a critical role in establishing the University, a most renowned educational institution in Armenia.
Over the years, Elizabeth has earned many prestigious awards. They include the Humanitarian Award of Ararat Home of Los Angeles in 1994, a proclamation of Pontifical Blessings from His Holiness Karekin II in 2003, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2006, a Medal from the Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East for her long standing educational services in 2008, the Gold Medal of the Ministry of the Diaspora of the Armenian Government in 2011, Distinguished Humanitarian Award from the Armenian Assembly of America in 2012 and Tributes from the AMAA Board in 1999, 2003 and 2016.
“Volunteers and humanitarians do not help people for medals and decorations,” said Mrs. Agbabian. “Our greatest reward is, knowing that our efforts have helped the needy and the neglected children of Armenia. Important things are the small acts that make our world a better place. I am grateful to God for giving me this opportunity to serve my people through the AMAA. It was Armenia who called me to give to orphans and destitute children the gift of love, compassion and Christian service, which I have received from my family and friends in my childhood and adult life. Our reward will be to see a new generation of youth coming out of despair to a productive and happy life.”
“The AMAA salutes Elizabeth Agbabian for this honor coming from the Homeland,” said Zaven Khanjian, Executive Director/CEO of the AMAA. “She has an indelible fountain of energy, love of the nation and a natural urge to help all anchored on her faith in God. On behalf of the larger family of the Armenian Missionary Association of America, we congratulate Elizabeth for the honor bestowed on her by President Sarkisian and thank her and Dr. Agbabian for all they do to support the Mission of the AMAA.”