Central Valley Scholarship Organization Marks 65th Anniversary

A graduate scholarship organization founded by Armenian immigrants will celebrate 65 years of service in Central California and around the world

Armenian Theological Students’ Aid, Inc. will mark the milestone in ministry at a celebration luncheon at 1 p.m. on Sunday, February 21, 2010.  The luncheon will take place in the Fellowship Hall of historic Pilgrim Armenian Congregational Church, 3673 North First Street at Garland Avenue in Fresno.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.  Tables of eight and a host of sponsorship opportunities are available.  Proceeds benefit the global graduate scholarship programs of the Fresno-based nonprofit corporation.   More information may be obtained by calling (559) 323-5502, (559) 260-3357, or (559) 320-2323.

On January 8, 1945, just five months before VE Day, pioneering Yettem resident Ezras Tellalian met with Fresno pastors Arsham K. Yeramian and Hagop A. Chakmakjian in the Mason Building law offices of Fresno attorney Gasper H. Magarian.  Remembering a generation of ethnic pastors lost in the genocides of the Ottoman Empire, the quartet formed a financial aid organization to assist students of Armenian descent preparing to become ministers, preachers, and teachers of the Holy Bible in the 20th Century.

In the ensuing six and one-half decades, the nonprofit organization they chartered–ATSA–has raised and granted almost $700,000 in scholarships to help more than 200 seminary students at home and abroad earn their entry-level graduate degrees.  

ATSA Scholars have matriculated in divinity schools across the United States, Dominion of Canada, Near East, Europe, and the Republic of Armenia.

ATSA works in partnership with the New Jersey-based Armenian Missionary Association of America, the Glendale-based Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, and the Beirut-based Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches of the Near East.

The February 21 luncheon will feature Canadian cuisine prepared by Chef Hrant Darakjian and his culinary team, ethnic music, and remarks by Talbot Seminary student Haig Darakjian.  Fresno architect Paul Nelson Halajian, AIA, will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

ATSA is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors: Hrant Darakjian, Arnold H. Gazarian, D.D.S., and Reverend Ara Richard Guekguezian (Class of 2009); Rafi Balabanian, D.D.S., Ann R. Karagozian-Sarafian, Ph.D., and Edward Saliba (Class of 2010), and Harry Halajian, Reverend Karl Vartan Avakian, and Philip Tavlian (Class of 2011).

ATSA is a recognized organization of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, an ecclesiastical confederation of Armenian Protestant churches, missions, and fellowships in the United States of America and Dominion of Canada.

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