"Renewed Faith: A Historical Review of the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Beirut"

The Premiere Screening of the Documentary Film

On Saturaday, December 6, 2014, 7:00PM, at the hall of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, the premiere screening of the documentary film "Renewed Faith: A Historical Review of the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Beirut" took place, organized by the First Armenian Evangelical Church's Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association (AECA), and under the patronage of the president of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East (UAECNE), Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian.

AECA chairman Luder Artinian delivered the opening word of the evening. He briefly presented the AECA's history mentioning that it had originated thanks to the initiative of a group of youth from the First Armenian Evangelical Church, in October 2006.  About the documentary film, he explained, " Three-and-a-half years ago the Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association started working towards the realization of its idea of a documentary about the First Armenian Evangelical Church when Hratch Tokatlian, an expert in the field of audio-visual studies voluntarily offered his services, his time and his knowledge towards the realization of this goal, thus becoming the director of this documentary film. Today, three-and-a-half years later, the Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association and the First Armenian Evangelical Church have this completed documentary film at our disposal. As you will soon see, it is an important document not only for us, the members of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, but also for all Lebanese Armenians and Lebanese Christians. It is also valuable for future generations and for every one who is interested in the Armenian Evangelical Church." He thanked all those who had who had in many different ways aided the production and realization of this documentary.

UAECNE president Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian receiving the first copy of the DVD fit in a plaque from the AECA chairman Luder Artinian

Then the audience viewed the 55-minute long documentary film which presents the history of the First Armenian Evangelical Church beginning from the 1800s and the birth of the Armenian Evangelical Church in Constantinople, moving on to the settlement in Lebanon of survivors of the Armenian Genocide beginning in 1915, and the formation of the First Armenian Evangelical Church in Beirut in 1922, and then presenting the history of that church up to the present day.
At the end of the documentary film, the pastor of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, Rev. Hrayr Cholakian, delivered his word, appreciating the documentary film and the rarity of the production of such documentary films. He emphasized the importance of this work for our faith and for the future of the church. He thanked two people who had a special contribution in the realization of the documentary film: Dr. Armen Urneshlian (narrator), and Miss Perla Kherlakian (editor), to both of whom the AECA presented special gifts.

The first copy of the DVD fit in a plaque with the Bible verse from Romans 12:2, that was presented to the UAECNE president by the AECA

Then he gave special thanks to AECA member Mrs. Shushan Artinian-Tokatlian who had greatly contributed to the researches undertaken for the documentary film. He invited AECA committee member Ara Kojadelian who presented her with a bouquet and a special gift. Then he invited the AECA chairman to present the first copy of the documentary film's DVD fit in a plaque engraved with the Bible verse Romans 12:2 to the evening's patron Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian.

Chairman of the board of trustees of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, Freddy Ekmekji (left) presenting the painting by Ara Shiraz as a gift of gratitude from the First Armenian Evangelical Church to the director of the "Renewed Faith: A Historical Review of the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Beirut" Hratch A. Tokatlian (right)

Then he invited the director of the documentary film, Hratch Tokatlian, to deliver his word. In his word, he specially emphasized the importance of archives, the necessity of their preservation, and their role in the goal of preserving our Armenian heritage. He also particularly thanked historian and Armenologist Dr. Yervant Kassouni for his years' worth of research work which had become the main source for this documentary film. Then the chairman of the board of trustees of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, Freddy Ekmekji, was invited to present the director with a painting by Ara Shiraz in gratitude for his work.
The special evening of the premiere screening of this documentary film was brought to a close by UAECNE president Rev. Megrditch Karagoezian's prayer of benediction.

The organizing committee together with the director of the documentary film. From left to right: Ara Kojadelian (AECA committee member), Rev. Hrayr Cholakian (pastor of the First Armenian Evangelical Church), Shushan Artinian (AECA member and documentary researcher), Hratch A. Tokatlian (director of the documentary), and Luder Artinian (AECA chairman)

At the end, the audience were treated to a reception prepared by the Women's Association of the church and had the opportunity to buy DVD-s of the documentary film. It is possible to buy DVDs of this documentary film by contacting the First Armenian Evangelical Church's office (961-01-343182, 01-349817), as well as by e-mailing the Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association at the following address:  aecahamm@yahoo.com (contact the e-mail for overseas orders). Moreover, orders of the DVD in the USA can be made to Rev. Nishan Bakalian.
You can view the report, aired on the Lebanese "Future TV" channel's "Armenian News" program on January 3, 2015, about the "Renewed Faith: A Historical Review of the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Beirut" documentary film on the AECA's YouTube channel at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JimaTe7H8s8

Luder Artinian
Photos courtesy of Levon Babikian and Luder Artinian

Screening of “Ravished Armenia” in Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide

On Saturday, April 30, the Lebanese public had a unique opportunity to watch the first Armenian Genocide film “Ravished Armenia” that was produced in 1919. The Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association (AECA) organized a special evening to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. The event took place at the First Armenian Evangelical Church in Beirut.

The program began with the opening word of the chairperson of the AECA Miss Shushan Artinian, who noted that the evening was a special tribute to all the survivors of the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman government, and especially to Arshalouys ‘Aurora’ Mardiganian, a witness and survivor during the first World War. She then introduced the guest speaker, Miss Katia Peltekian, currently a faculty member at Haigazian University, who spends her time researching for old archival material related to the Genocide, her main interest being compiling newspaper reports and articles of the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The evening’s program began with poetry recital. Sero Kelougian recited Siamanto’s “I Want To Die Singing” and was accompanied with duduk melody performed by his father Hagop Kelougian. Then Miss Peltekian took the podium and introduced the film “Ravished Armenia.” Her presentation included information about the making of the movie at the end of 1918 in Hollywood, including information about the producer, the director, and the cast which included Arshalouys herself and Mr. Henry Morgenthua, US Ambassador to Turkey at the time. Miss Peltekian then showed a few ads she had collected from different newspapers of the time promoting the film in different cities of the USA, Canada, and Britain. The ads specifically indicated that the purpose of the movie was to raise $30 million to help the orphans that had survived the massacres during 1915-16. One interesting news item came from Great Britain, where the League of Nations Union wanted to screen the movie at the Royal Albert Hall; political intrigue from the Foreign office resulted in censoring by the Scotland Yard and the Home Office five scenes from the movie in order not to raise any anti-Turkish sentiments as the Peace Conference with Turkey was still going on. The censoring of crucial scenes was implemented, and the word “Christian” was erased from all subtitles before it was given permission to be shown to the public.

Afterwards, Miss Peltekian related the story of 14-year-old Arshalouys Mardiganian, who had witnessed not only the murder of every single member of her family on the deportation route, but also the daily sufferings and mass murders of her fellow-Armenians. In fact, Arshalouys was also abducted and sold to Turkish pashas and beys for their harems. She escaped the two-year ordeal and was finally saved by an American missionary in Erzuroum and brought to New York with the help of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief.

The audience then watched the movie. The original movie was 85 minutes long, but it is considered lost. However, a 20-minute segment was discovered a couple of decades ago and is now reserved at the Genocide Museum in Yerevan. The nitrate based film was newly restored and produced by the late Richard Kloian from the Armenian Genocide Resource Center of

Northern California. The audience, some with tears in their eyes, watched the excruciatingly disturbing and stirring scenes that depicted every single crime that constitutes Genocide.

After the movie, Miss Peltekian described the last days of Arshalouys Mardiganian, who had married in 1929 and had a son. However, although she had lived and survived the worst atrocity in the history of mankind, her life ended in more tragedy as she died alone and her body was not claimed by anyone, not even her son. Her ashes were buried with around 2100 other unclaimed ashes of those who had passed away in 1994. Arshalouys did not even have a gravestone with her name carved on it.

At the end of the evening’s program, the Arakelots’ Chamber Choir, conducted by Krikor Alozian and accompanied by Hasmig Kasbarian on the piano, performed Mesrob Mashdots’ “I Stand Before Thee” and “ Have Mercy on Me, Oh Lord!” and Magar Yegmalian’s “Holy Holy.”

The evening was concluded by Pastor Hrayr Cholakian.

Press Release
Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association
The First Armenian Evangelical Church
Mexique Street, 11-2508
Riyad El Solh, Beirut 1107-2110, Lebanon Email: aecahamm@yahoo.com
May 1, 2011

Tertig, December - Issue VII - Year 3, 2009

Below, is the 7th issue of the newsletter of the Armenian Evangelical Cultural Association (Հայ Աւետարանական Մշակութային Միութիւն) of the First Armenian Evangelical Church, Beirut.

You can read it, by clicking on the following links: