SANTA ANA—On July of 2013, Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian was appointed as Pastor to the Forty Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church of Orange County by His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. Since then, much has changed for the better in the Orange County Armenian community.
From the onset the Board of Trustees and new Pastor worked together in harmony and created a roadmap for the future with the understanding that the church is a place which embodies the community’s faith and national values. The Board of Trustees and Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian reached out to community organizations, Ari Guiragos Minassian Armenian school administration, faculty and parents, the AYF and youth in general, benefactors, and volunteers and delivered to them the simple message that the church is everyone’s home.
The energetic Pastor was greeted with enthusiasm and excitement by the entire community as such cooperation and camaraderie was long overdue. The Board of Trustees and the Pastor were once again a respected team welcomed by everyone, the positive impacts of which are increasing daily allowing the community to continue to improve and grow.
Although the new Pastor arrived in July of 2013, the Church Board had been working together for almost two years, re-establishing the presence and importance of the Forty Martyrs Church Board in the community. They worked tirelessly to reorganize and restructure the Church, for which the final piece of this successful puzzle was the youthful Rev. Fr. Karekin Bedourian.
Some of the highlights from the past six months (Der Karekin’s first six months) include numerous important and crucial activities that had been dormant for too many years. These include the reopening of the Sunday school with over 25 students under the leadership of Yeretsgin Sevan and a group of volunteers. Fr. Karekin also established the long awaited adult bible study group with over 50 members. He immediately created a second bible study group established with the youth in mind and attracted over 20 young participants. The Pastor also reinstituted a long standing tradition where the local Pastor would also teach religion at the daily Armenian school. Today Fr. Karekin teaches religion to AGM students and instills in their hearts and minds the value of the Armenian church, the importance of community, maintaining the culture and heritage, and the Armenian national identity and struggle for justice.
The Board and Pastor also felt it important to upgrade the facilities as part of their ongoing improvements as well as to help attract younger families. To this end, Mr. Haig Zaher, a longtime community member, voluntarily designed the new state of the art website encompassing the community organizations, news, Fr. Karekin’s weekly sermons, weekly bible study recordings, and many other areas of interest to the community. Fr. Karekin also prepared a weekly church bulletin, both in hard copy and electronically, which is sent out to the entire community. All this in addition to the Facebook page the Board created over a year ago which allows community members to connect and converse with one another while still receiving church announcements and news.
The Forty Martyrs Board and Ladies Auxiliary have also organized a host of events, including the community picnic with the blessing of the grapes, numerous luncheons and dinners, trips, and a very successful New Year’s Eve banquet! There are many more projects in the pipeline for Orange County, including the renovation of the Gugasian Hall and installing monitors in the church so parishioners can follow the Holy Liturgy both in Armenian and English.
The OC Armenian community is in its renaissance period. There is excitement in the air with positive feedback and support from the community. All the organizations work well together supporting each other’s activities and events. Each understands its role and the importance of the community and the nation. The church Board being at the focal point of the community has received praise as Rev. Fr. Karekin was welcomed with open arms by all. “The past is behind us and we have our eyes set on the future; we ask you to join us as we continue to improve and move forward together” stated Chairman of the Board Hagop Badolian. He went on to say that the Pastor and the Board of Trustees are investing in our future starting most importantly with our youth but still maintaining focus on all of our community members, because the Forty Martyrs Armenian Church is a safe-haven for everyone in the community.”