Former Near East Student to Keynote Lenten Dinner

FRESNO–A Kentucky native who studied in the Near East will keynote a Lenten Season gathering at California’s oldest Armenian Church.

Reverend Roy Pope, Jr., Lead Pastor at Oak Hills Church of Clovis, California, will address the Men’s Fellowship of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno.

The dinner gathering will take place on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, at the FAPC Fellowship Hall, 430 South First Street at Huntington Boulevard. The evening will begin with ethnic appetizers at 6:30 p.m. followed by a barbecued steak and chicken dinner at 7 p.m. Reservations are $10 per person and may be made by calling George Karkazian at (559) 434-9009.

The keynoter was born and reared in Harlan County, a coal mining region in the southeastern portion of the Bluegrass State that is also home to musician Nick Lachey, basketball coach Bernie Bickerstaff, and journalist Maxine Cheshire. His great-great-great grandfather, Nathan Pope, was a Methodist Circuit Rider who brought the Gospel from the Tidewater area of Virginia into the mountain communities of Kentucky.

Reverend Pope graduated from Harlan High School and went on to Ohio Wesleyan University, a historic liberal arts college in the city of Delaware, just 20 minutes north of Columbus. During his junior year abroad, Pope engaged in special studies at the American University of Beirut and its neighboring graduate institution, the Near East School of Theology. The AUB is a 143-year-old institution of higher learning chartered by the State of New York. Dating to 1835, the NEST is an interdenominational Protestant seminary serving the Evangelical churches of the Middle East and Africa.

After completing his undergraduate studies, Pope enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, where he earned a Master of Divinity Degree. The then pastored churches in Wilmore, Kentucky, Sanger, California, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina. He served on the staff of Evangelical Free Church of Fresno for seven years before receiving a call to plant the Oak Hills Church in northeastern Clovis, near the Sierra foothills.

Pope and his wife, Zoe Anne, were both widowed in the same month in 1982. Zoe Anne is the daughter of Wilbur Plaugher, renowned rodeo clown and co-founder of the Fellowship of Christian Cowboys. Upon their marriage, the Popes raised a family of six children and now have seven grandchildren. Roy’s son, Nicholas Micah Pope, was educated at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston and serves a new church in southeast Fresno.

Forty immigran’s from Marsovan chartered the First Armenian Presbyterian Church on July 25, 1897. Reverend Mgrdich Melkonian is the Senior Pastor, Reverend Aren Balabanian is the Associate Pastor, Shant Barsoumian, M.Div., is the Pastoral Intern, and Dennis Shamlian, D.D.S. is the Chair of the Men’s Ministries Executive Committee.

The theme of the congregation for 2009 is “All Things Are Possible with God.” FAPC is a member church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America.

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