Tuesday, May 14, 2013

United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church, now Watertown Evangelical Church, celebrates 75 years, Cont'd.

Historical Review by Phillip Alajajian

Christ Jesus- The Chief Cornerstone of HIS CHURCH

Christ’s great commission: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”

1940s - mid 1950s

Founders of Armenian Brethren Church- Vartan Bilezikian, Socrate Amiralian

Vartan was saved at 25 yrs under the ministry of a Swedish evangelist, Fredrick Franson

“Apraham Hoja of Aintab”- a book written by Vartan in his later years tells his story profoundly; it  is available online at http://cosmades.org/

He experienced great revivals throughout Armenia but was imprisoned for publicly preaching the Gospel

Following his release from a prison stay for preaching the Gospel he left for the US at age 33

He planned to return to Armenia to preach the Gospel  (I.e., as with the early Apostles, the fires of persecution brought an even greater zeal in him to proclaim the Gospel)

In the meantime began preaching and teaching the scriptures in homes of Armenian families & later Dover Street Mission (renamed Union Rescue Mission)

A church is formed leading to the building of a church building in Watertown for $15,000 in 1938 (i.e., when average salaries were only $12/week)

Certain Godly women sold their jewelry to help finance its construction

The Bilezikian family was very instrumental in the construction of the building, esp. electrical needs

Vartan and Socrate focus was always on evangelism and growth in Christ likeness (Spiritual development)   - Meetings were held in Armenian and Turkish only, and later English

Leadership in Transition

Mid 1950s- 1960s

2nd Gen leaders decide to conduct services in English only to enable their children to adapt to American culture

Breaking from Brethren tradition the leaders invite a full time pastor to preach the Word in English beginning with Dr. Stuart Lease

1960s - 1970s

A Crossroad Decision- Name change from UABEC to WEC

To better reach the community of non Armenians with the Gospel, a proposal is made

Armenian heritage versus Christian heritage?

At first voted down, it is eventually welcomed and adopted in 1964

Early Pillars of Faith at UABEC-  Vahan Terzian, Barkev Amiralian

Vahan was a gifted Bible teacher and organizer of Christian ministries
He took the initiative and received support from Vartan and Socrate to become an elder/minister

Barkev excelled at Church administration and helped organize Children’s Sunday School and ministries for well over a decade

Many Armenian families were faithful in attendance and in ministry: Alajajians, Amiralians, Bilezikians, Chorlians, Ezekielians, Harutunians, Kechadorians, Kechajians,  Kricorians, and Terzians, among others

Among the non Armenians who joined WEC between 1960s thru 1980s were: Bruce & Karen Daggett, Jean Fault, Davis Family, Natalie Collela, Paul Capazolli, Steve & Carla St Germain, Gary & Ann Lentel, Bob & Marie Marchessault, Sam & Eileen Meier, Paula Usten, Andre & Julia Wu, among myriad others

Guidance and Growth in Ministry

Twelve pastors have served the church since the departure of the founders to Glory

Originally the primary services were Sunday School and Morning Worship and Prayer Meeting on Wed nights

The first missions conferences took place annually in the 1960s with themes like

- “Go Ye Into All the World and Preach the Gospel”

- “The Night Cometh When No Man Can Work”

From the 1960s onward the church added programs for youth

- Boys Brigade

- Pioneer Girls

- Youth groups


3rd Gen members, David Terzian and Phil Alajajian are appointed leaders at WEC

Ken Umenhofer serves as first interim pastor for 3 years in 1978

Bruce Daggett begins a tenure of 17 years as pastor of WEC in 1981

Seeking church growth WEC adds the following:

- Small group bible studies

- Nursery

- Dramas

- Choirs

- Praise and Worship Team

Looking Back over 75 years

We see where we have come from and how we got here

We need to reaffirm our commitment to knowing Christ individually and as a Body of believers, walking with Him in the Holy Spirit, and in making Him known by the same Spirit to a lost, fallen world in desperate need of His saving grace.


Post a Comment