The Armenian Community in the Los Angeles area
The articles in this section were compiled from various Internet sources that are listed below.
Armenian immigration to the United States has been primarily triggered by political rather than economic reasons. The were two major waves of Armenian immigration: pre-1920s and post-1960s. The earliest wave of Armenian refugees fled the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century. The second wave of Armenian immigration started after 1965 when the restrictive U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 was finally lifted. The second wave of Armenian immigration was also caused by political turmoil in Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iran.
Thus there is an unusual mix of countries of origin and generations among Armenians. One group includes the survivors of the first wave of immigrants and their descendants who are now a middle-age second generation, and a young or very young third and even fourth generations. By contrast Armenian immigrants after 1965 include mostly a first generation ranging widely in age, so that there are both first-generation and third-generation Armenians of the same age. They differ, of course, in terms of country of origin.
Most of the earlier Armenian immigrants settled in the Eastern states after 1875, but some later migrated to Fresno, California, after 1883, to work in agriculture. By 1912 there were in Fresno and Tulare counties between 5,500 and 6,000 Armenians. They controlled between 8,000 and 19,000 acres of land. In the town of Fresno there were about 100 Armenian merchants and tradesmen, who competed on favorable terms with those of other nationalities. The combined wealth of the Armenians was estimated at $4 million.
The first Armenian Apostolic parish was established in Fresno at Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church. Other Armenian churches established in Fresno were the First Armenian Evangelical Presbyterian Church in 1897, which was the first Armenian ethnic church of any denomination in California; it was organized after Armenians attending the Congregational Church were kicked out in 1895. The Armenian Evangelical Pilgrim Congregational Church, established in 1902, was the second Armenian ethnic church of any denomination in California. The Armenian Full Gospel Church of God was established in Fresno in 1912 by the Reverend Vartan Moomjian.
Some of the second- and third-generation Armenians left the Fresno community and resettled in Los Angeles. The new wave of Armenian immigration was directed towards California and especially Los Angeles. Thus, Los Angeles has attracted both native-born Armenians from Fresno and from the Eastern states, as well as recent immigrants from a few Middle Eastern countries and the Soviet Union. Los Angeles is now one of the most ethnically diverse Armenian centers in the world.
From 1906 to 1908 there was a large movement of Armenians to Los Angeles. These were both Russian Armenians from Kars and the plain of Shirak and Turkish Armenians who had wearied of the farmers life in Fresno. They were joined by Armenians from the eastern states as well. Most came in whole families, and by 1911 the Armenian population had reached 1,000. Of these 520 were Russian Armenians, a few of whom were Molokans.
The 400 Russian Armenians from Shirak were almost all laborers in the cement and steel works of the San Bernardino area. The rest of the Armenians were occupied in small business, farming, trades, or small pursuits. About 100 were estimated to be produce sellers, rug repairers, junk peddlers, clothing pressers, and ice cream sellers. By 1911 there were five Armenian rug dealers in the area: Pashgian Brothers, Khazoyan, Enfiajian, M. Koroyan, and H. Minasian. The Armenian immigrants of Southern California clearly demonstrated an independent mentality, wishing to be the master of something, anything, no matter how small or insignificant. Many of them prospered over the years and generations.
The Size of the Armenian Community in Southern California
According to Archbishop Hovnan Derderian of the Armenian Church of North America in May 2007, there are some 450,000 Armenians in the Los Angeles area (compared to an estimated 550,000 Jews); and as primate of his church's Western Diocese, encompassing 14 states, he leads a flock of 800,000. However, according to the 2000 Census, there were only 138,015 Armenian language speakers in Los Angeles County (this includes East Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, Pasadena, etc., where most Armenians are located). In addition, there are many people of Armenian ancestry who do not speak Armenian today who are descendents of Armenians who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s and later.
The Armenians of East Hollywood tend to be Russian Armenians, with certain cultural characteristics resulting from their experience of living for 70 years under a Communist system. Iranian Armenians tend to live in Glendale and have their own social and economic networks. The Armenian community of Pasadena tends to be strongly of Middle Eastern origin.
The Little Armenian Community in East Hollywood
Little Armenia is defined by the Los Angeles City Council as "the area bounded on the north by Hollywood Blvd between the 101 Freeway and Vermont Ave, on the east by Vermont Avenue from Hollywood Blvd to Santa Monica Blvd, on the south by Santa Monica Blvd between Vermont Ave and the 101 Freeway and on the west by the 101 Freeway from Santa Monica Blvd to Hollywood Blvd". (Adopted on 6 October 2000.)
Its name comes from the large number of Armenian-Americans that live in the area and also from the large number of Armenian stores and businesses that had already opened in the neighborhood by the early 1990's. Prior to this time, the neighborhood was known as being a rather seedy one, known for street prostitution, cheap bars, and drug sales. All of these still exist in the area, but to a significantly lesser extent, due to the efforts of the Armenian community and the city government of Los Angeles. Also, gentrification is beginning to spill over into East Hollywood due to its proximity to Los Feliz and Silver Lake, especially in the parts closest to those areas.
St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church is an Armenian church that is located inside Little Armenia. St. Garabed church is the place of prayer for the vast majority of Armenians living in Hollywood. It is located on Alexandria Avenue and it was built in 1978. The church is located front of the Rose and Alex Pilibos Armenian School. Little Armenia's only public park is Barnsdall Art Park, which includes the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House and a city-run arts center built in 1919-1921. The park, located on small but scenic Olive Hill, was donated to the city of Los Angeles by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall.
One of the major event that occurs in "Little
Armenia" is every year on April 24, when Armenians gather in Hollywood to take
part in a protest for the recognition of Armenian Genocide.
According to the Armenians, backed by predominant historical analysis, between 1915 and
1923, Turkey killed 1.5 million Armenian civilians in a planned genocide. Turkey
maintains that some 300,000 Armenians died, but that an equal number of Turks perished,
and that both sides were victims of chaotic wartime conditions, disease and famine, not a
predetermined extermination. Turks refer to the wartime slaughter by the Arabic word
mukapele, which Sensoy translated during a phone interview as "mutual massacre."
Year after year, Armenian Americans have commemorated the beginning of the slaughter by demanding that modern Turkey formally acknowledge the persecutions and deaths of their ancestors as the Armenian Genocide. Just as consistently, the Ankara government has refused.
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Armenian Cleric Visits Pasadena, Spreads Faith's Traditions (October 2007)
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Armenian Churches in Southern California
Armenia is a country with a more than two-thousand year history. Christianity became the state religion in 301 CE, the Kingdom of Armenia being the first state to adopt Christianity. Distinctively, the Armenian Apostolic Church accepted only the earliest Christian doctrines. In the nineteenth century, European and American missionizing led to the formation of the Armenian Protestant Church and the Armenian Catholic Church.
There are a variety of religious traditions among Armenians in the Los Angeles area: Apostolic, Prelacy (Dashnak, anti-Soviet), Diocese (non-Dashnak, accepted Soviet rule of Armenia), Roman Catholic, Protestant and Jehovah's Witnesses (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York).
The liturgical language for the Armenian Apostolic Church is Grabar [Krapar, Old Armenian, Classical Armenian]. The various organizational structures of this ancient Christian Church are as follows:
Evangelical Armenian Congregations in Pasadena
Armenian Apostolic Churches in Pasadena
NOTE: See article about the new church
building for St. Gregory the Illuminator
Armenian Apostolic Church in Pasadena (10 Sept 2007).
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See the following sources for more information about the history of the Armenian community in Southern California:George Byron Kooshian, Jr., "The Armenian Immigrant Community of California: 18801935." Los Angeles: UCLA, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation in History, 2002: http://webpages.charter.net/georgebbruin/ George Byron Kooshian, Jr., "The Armenian Immigrant Community of Pasadena, California: One Hundred Years." PDF document, 2006. http://webpages.charter.net/georgebbruin/
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Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church History
As the Armenian Evangelical Church was born out of the Mother
Church (the Armenian Orthodox Apostolic Church), likewise the Armenian Brotherhood Church
was born out of the Armenian Evangelical Church.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, some of the suburbs of Cilicia as Harpert, Marash, Hasan Bay, Aintab, and Adana, had seen strong spiritual awakenings, where numerous persons repented and committed themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Having the desire for a warm spiritual environment, they joined the group that sprang out of the Evangelical Church, which was having unofficial meetings and which had similar concerns. This group was being known as Brotherhood fellowship.
The Genocide did not permit this group to prosper in Cilicia. After the massacres, the remnant of the Armenian people migrated to the Middle East and settled in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Those who migrated to Europe, mainly settled in Greece and France.
Among those who settled in these countries, there were initiator spiritual brothers who, with the help of God, began similar meetings first at homes and later in rented halls, and finally, when the number of the constituency increased, and the monetary means allowed, they began to move into church buildings.
Among those who migrated to Aleppo, Syria, were Brothers Abraham Seferian, Minas Bozoklian and Mihran Kasardjian. They gathered people together and began to have unofficial home Bible studies. There were a mixed group of people who were born again, from the three denominations (i.e., Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical). In time this group became larger and took more official status, and finally it was named as the Spiritual Brotherhood Church. Due this course movement spread into other countries, although in different names as Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood Church, Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church, etc.
Numerous Brotherhood Churches were established in the Middle East: Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran, Cairo, Alexandria. In Europe: Valance, Paris, Athens. And in South America: Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Sao Paulo, and Montevideo.
The brothers who migrated to North America, established churches in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Fresno, Los Angeles, and Pasadena.
The founder of the Pasadena Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church was Rev. Ephlatone E. Elmajian, who after retiring in 1960's, transferred the work to Rev. Vahram Tourian.
In 1971, seven brothers, together with their families split from the church and founded a new church which conducted services in a rented church building at the corner of Washington and Holeston. The reason for the split was mainly doctrinal.
>The seven founding brothers were: Rev. John Mark, Rev. Joseph Matossion, brothers Dikran Matossion, Abraham Voskerichian, Haigazoon Kuyumjian, Jirair Aitablian and Moses Kasparian. Most of these brothers are in Heaven now.
After one month, the congregation moved to a Methodist church at the corner of Washington Blvd. and Pepper Dr. They stayed there for seven years after which the purchased a building at the corner of Washington Blvd. and Bresee. They had their worship services in the Bresee Nazarene church from 1979 - 1986, when they finally started to use their present location.
The church grew from 40 members to the present 280 membership. The membership grew mainly by new comers from Lebanon, Iran and Armenia.
The Brotherhood Churches are governed mainly by laymen. That was the case with the Pasadena church, when, because of the growth of the congregation, the Board of the Church invited Joseph Matossian to act as the full time pastor of the church. Rev. Matossian served from 1986 to 1994 and he handed the torch to Bro. Samuel Pambakian until 2000; thereafter handed over to Rev. Calvin Sagherian.
Sometime in 1998, the church ventured a giant construction
project, by spending around two million dollars. The church built a gymnasium, classrooms
and offices, together with a large parking area. These facilities are efficiently used by
the church for Sunday School, Bible Study groups, youth activities, banquets and executive
The Brotherhood church that is located in Pasadena is a member of the Union of the Armenian Brotherhood Bible Churches, which has to its membership 16 churches, among them are the two churches in the Los Angeles County: Glendale, with Rev. Krikor Malakian as Pastor; Hollywood, with Rev. Carlos Hadjian as Pastor.
In order to make the spiritual truths available to many and tie the Brotherhood churches together, in 1925, in Aleppo, Syria, a monthly magazine started to be published by the name of Maranatha, with Brothers Abraham Seferian and Minas Bozoklian as the editors. Besides Maranatha there had been other magazines published like Aveli Gyank (Abundant Life) and Tchahert (The Enlightened Journey), as well the Yerchanik Hooys (Blessed Hope) periodical. These periodicals brought a tremendous subsidy to the Armenian spiritual literature and spiritual nourishment to thousands of its readers. Today, only Yerchanik Hooys (Blessed Hope) is in print, as the organ of the Union of the Armenian Brotherhood Bible Churches, and is being published in Pasadena, California.
The members of the Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church in Pasadena give thanks to God for having a home where believers come and worship the Lord, get nourishment from His word, serve Him, have communion with their brothers and sisters in the Lord and prepare for the return of Jesus Christ.
The Lord has helped us up to day, He has been our Ebenezer. May His name be blessed and glorified among His flock.
* * *In March 2003, there were 36 Armenian churches in the Los Angeles basin, with concentrations in Glendale, Hollywood, Pasadena and Montebello. There were 23 Amenian Protestant churches, the majority of which are Evangelical; 13 Armenian Apostolics (five under the jurisdiction of the Catholicos of Antelias--Cilicia, eight under the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin); and two Armenian Catholic churches. In their design, the church buildings are a syncretism of traditional Armenian design and twentieth-century California architecture. It is that transformation from tradition and Armenia to modernity and Southern California that is most striking.
Distribution of Armenian Churches in Los Angeles County, 2003
|Armenian Cilicia Congregational Church||Altadena||Protestant- Evangelical|
|Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church||Downey||Protestant- Evangelical|
|Holy Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church||Encino||Apostolic|
|Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church (Glendale/Burbank)||Glendale||Protestant- Armenian Brotherhood Bible Churches|
|Armenian Church of The Nazarene||Glendale||Protestant - Church of the Nazarene|
|Christ Armenian Church||Glendale||Protestant|
|First Armenian Evangelical Church of Glendale||Glendale||Protestant- Evangelical|
|St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church||Glendale||Catholic|
|St. Kevork Armenian Church Glendale||Glendale||Apostolic|
|St. Mary's Armenian Apostolic Church||Glendale||Apostolic|
|Holy Trinity Armenian Church||Hollywood||Protestant- Presbyterian|
|United Armenian Congregational Church||Hollywood||Protestant- Evangelical|
|First Armenian Pentecostal Church||La Habra Heights||Protestant- Pentecostal|
|Armenian Apostolic Church of La Verne||La Verne||Apostolic|
|Armenian Baptist Church||La Verne||Protestant- Baptist|
|Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church (Hollywood)||Los Angeles||Protestant- Armenian Brotherhood Bible Churches|
|Armenian Catholic Church Queen of Martyrs||Los Angeles||Catholic|
|Armenian Evangelical Brethren Church||Los Angeles||Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America|
|Armenian Evangelical Church of Hollywood||Los Angeles||Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America|
|St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church||Los Angeles||Apostolic|
|St. James Armenian Apostolic Church||Los Angeles||Apostolic|
|St. John Garabed Armenian Cathedral||Los Angeles||Apostolic|
|St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church||Los Angeles||Apostolic|
|Sheen Chapel||Mission Hills||Unconsecrated- open to all denominations|
|Armenian Evangelical Church of Montebello||Montebello||Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America|
|Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral||Montebello||Apostolic|
|St. Nareg Armenian Church||Montebello||Protestant- Evangelical|
|Armenian Apostolic Church of Pasadena||Pasadena||Apostolic|
|Armenian Bible Church||Pasadena||Protestant|
|Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church||Pasadena||Protestant- Armenian Brotherhood Bible Churches|
|Armenian Evangelical Brethren Church||Pasadena||Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America|
|Pasadena Armenian Church of the Nazarene||Pasadena||Protestant - Church of the Nazarene|
|St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Pasadena||Pasadena||Apostolic|
|Armenian Bible Church of the Nazarene||Sun Valley||Protestant - Church of the Nazarene|
|Armenian Apostolic Church||Tujunga||Apostolic|
|St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church||Van Nuys||Apostolic|
Map of Location of Armenian Churches in the Los Angeles Area, 2003
Directory of Armenian churches in the U.S.A.: http://www.armeniapedia.org/index.php?title=Armenian_Churches_in_the_USA
George Byron Kooshian, Jr., "The Armenian Immigrant Community of California: 18801935." Los Angeles: UCLA, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation in History, 2002: http://webpages.charter.net/georgebbruin/George Byron Kooshian, Jr., "The Armenian Immigrant Community of Pasadena, California: One Hundred Years." PDF document, 2006. http://webpages.charter.net/georgebbruin/ Georges Sabagh, Claudia Der-Wartirosian, and Mehdi Bozorgmehr. SUBETHNICITY: ARMENIANS IN LOS ANGELES. Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, April 1990: http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1011&context=issr History of Armenian Brotherhood Bible Churches: http://www.abbcpas.org/history.htm
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Armenia,_Los_Angeles,_CaliforniaThe Little Armenia Community website: http://www.littlearmenia.com/ Tom Tugend, "The Armenian Genocide debate pits moral values against realpolitik" in The Jewish Journal (May 4, 2007):