EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS OF THE AMERICAN
Van saw that the educational activity of the Dominican (French) and German missionaries was not as effective as that of the American missionaries, which we will cover briefly. The first American missionaries set up operations in Van in the 70’s. Mr. Barnum and Dr. Reynolds, who set up school and church, emphasized education as much as possible. We knew that the Protestant missionaries at the start believed that the Armenian Church was based on a system of idolatry. But as they continued for a long time to have contact with the people they began gradually to change their opinion, and drew closer to the Lusavorchagan [Gregorian] church, as is evident today from the Armenian preachers who received their education from them.
Dr. Reynolds was a strong-willed “Yankee.” He worked in Van and surroundings for 45 years, such that his name remains tied to the history of Vasburagan. He learned Armenian quickly, and preached in that language. He also translated the words of English speakers into Armenian. Although he was a physician, his primary interest was in preaching and education, which he felt was more important than medicine.
He often visited the villages and other cities, to preach and to distribute aid. Several times, he visited America and Europe. He was a practical and consequential man, such that he succeeded gradually in building, on the hill east of Aygestan, a school, a “meeting place” [church], a graveyard, a hospital, a pharmacy, a garden for vegetables and flowers, all in the American style. He had under him two American missionaries as assistants, as well as Armenian preachers and helpers. But it was he who ran everything; all his staff, Armenian or foreign, had to see things as in his eyes and move as he ordered. If they did not, they would be dismissed to return to their former positions, American or foreign.
The American Board [of Commissioners for Foreign Missions], having full confidence in him, provided financial coverage for his work, and for the Van fire in 1876 and other tragedies that followed. He distributed funds according to his judgment. Aid was being received also from Switzerland, England, and Germany. After the tragedy of 1896, Reynolds undertook to take care of the difficult task of sustaining and educating of 5-600 orphans, boys and girls. It is certain that he had a powerful will to take on that task along with his church and schools. Dr. Reynolds’ wife, called “hanum,” did not fall behind her husband in her serving as “mother” for the orphans, and for their education. During the fighting in 1915, when Dr. Reynolds was in America, she took care of all the work, and while on the deportation trail, she died of the fatigue and rigors of the march, in Tiflis. It was there that the grateful people of Van buried her remains with fitting ceremony.
During his last visit to America, Reynolds worked to raise funds to raise his intermediate school to college level. But, death left his hope unfulfilled. He passed on to eternity, not having seen, for the last time, the Van that he loved. It is said that he willed to have his remains transported to Van. This active missionary, familiar with Van’s life, air, water, and scenery as a result of having lived and worked there for 46 years, said at a meeting in London in 1913, “It would be a misfortune to die without seeing Van.”
Dr. Reynolds’ unfulfilled hopes:
This tireless missionary worker once visited Germany with the desire to arrange for a silk factory to be built in Van. But he did not succeed. He showed up once again in London, in 1913, on a stage and surrounded by an Armenian and English audience, in a gathering chaired by Archbishop Ghevont Utujian.
Dr. Reynolds, as one who worked there for 46 years and as one who loved Van and was a “Vanetsi”, explained the need for higher education in Van and surroundings. He recalled the words of Lynch, “To see Van, and only then to die.”
He said his purpose was to establish a college there, which was central to Garin, Paghesh [Bitlis], the Caucasus, and Persia. With the land already available, he was calling on the people to support that high purpose. The American Board would guarantee its future. Armenians of London were responding to his call with 1200 English pounds sterling. A fund-raising committee in Manchester also was planned. The goal was to raise 20-40,000 pounds. Unfortunately, this purpose too remained unfulfilled with the destruction of Van in 1915.
In 1916, with funds from America in hand, he went to the Caucasus and distributed aid to refugees in Yerevan. He returned to America and died there (his wife had died in the deportations of 1915 in Tiflis, and was buried there).
Like Khrimian, Reynolds willed that his remains be transported to Van at the earliest opportunity. In 1925, Minister E. Rushduni wrote H. Yeramian from America, saying, “His remains have been put in my care and I hope to take them with me on the caravan of Vanetsis and bury them in our dearly loved Van.”
Sadly, our Badveli was unable to fulfill this purpose. For the time being we may hope that in the future that might happen.
As an assistant to Dr. Reynolds, Mr. Green, a young man, first came to Van to enhance the work of preaching and educating. At first he had formed a very unfavorable opinion of the people of Van. However, after having had contact with all classes of the people, he gradually changed his wrong attitude and became more liberal and loving of Armenians. However, with the fanatical “brothers” and the opposition group’s dissatisfaction, he was declared to have a “mental disease,” and was driven away from Van.
I remember him in a talk at an Armenian meeting in Boston when he had as title for his remarks, “I went from America to Van as a missionary, and now I come to America from Van as a Vanetsi missionary.”
He did not forget the Vanetsi, and beginning in 1895, he served as secretary for the New York Armenian Aid committee until 1918. He was one of those liberal and kind Americans who worked in the true spirit of the Gospel until the great tragedy....
He was another young missionary who came to Van, in 1894, Herbert Allen. A former editor of the “Avedaper” paper of Constantinople, Allen’s son, also a missionary, was principal of a school. Having been born in Kharpert, he was fluent in Armenian, he loved Armenians, and he was loved by them. Taking advantage of that circumstance, an attempt was to be made to unite the two churches, which surely would be a difficult task.
The tragedy at Sasun in 1894 had already wounded him, and the one at Kharpert in 1895-96 added to it. The Kharpert tragedy had taken the life of his crippled father. He rushed to Kharpert, buried his father’s body, and returned to Van. He sent the missionary women of Van to Persia for their protection. He then went to America to look after the education of children, and so he escaped the fighting at Van.
In 1897 he returned once again to Van to take over his mission, and at the same time he looked into getting back those lands that had been taken from the villagers. He also worked to get draft animals to improve the farming operations, getting help in the spring of 1897 from one who knew about animals, Shahen of Shadakh. They went on to Persia, to the village of Payachug of Salmasd, taking with him the vice consul at Van. During those days this writer was occupied with teaching in the village of Havtvan, and was getting ready to go Van; it seemed to be a good opportunity to meet them. Allen introduced me to the vice consul, and advised him of my wish to return to Van. After the vice consul had given his approval, it was time for him to look after his concerns. He wanted to see the local revolutionaries, and talk to the governor about his concerns. He wanted to speak of dangers in the future if the revolutionaries conducted any attacks against the Turkish border (that would be the famous Khanasor attack by the Dashnags, about which I have given details in a series of articles in the November 1948 issues of the Nor Or paper).
When Mr. Allen returned to Van (as I did), he continued in his supervisory mission, but he too, as it was with Mr. Green, for his liberal ideas, was obliged to leave Van. In 1900 he established the journal “Gochnag Hayasdani” [Call to Armenia], which is now in the fiftieth year of publication. [This must refer to Hayasdani Gotchnag]
Mr. Allen, on going to Bardizag, took on the position of principal of the American school, and the editorship of the “Avedaper” paper, in which he clearly showed his liberal feelings. Sadly, he died in 1911, in his 46th year.
His Armenian-loving character shows in his legacy -- “Tell my race to love one another, and not deviate from the true path.” His words were directed to the Armenian race that he had adopted, that race in which he had spent his youth and his years of energetic work. He worked for its moral and cultural advancement, and he fell on the path of duty. If only each missionary and each evangelical preacher followed that path Allen had cut. But it is worth hearing Allen’s sincere words about the Armenian Church.
THE ARMENIAN CHURCH
By Herbert Allen
In all of the history of religion there is nothing that stirs my imagination and enthusiasm so completely as does the venerable Armenian Church. The reason is not simply that it is so ancient. An institution can be venerable, yet not fruitful. And the reason is not its structure, though it is noteworthy and grand. The reason is that this church, more than for all others, represents the embodiment of the soul of the nation on earth.
Despite the thick obscurity that ignorance and prejudice around it that for centuries has tried to deny its beauty and reduce its vitality, the heart and soul of an immortal life still beats steadily.
It is the vision of the ever faithful and forever hopeful that fires the imagination and spurs the enthusiasm of the Armenian believer so that he, in Christ’s holy name, sometimes battles against the throngs of obscurity, sometimes is unbelievably persecuted, maimed and bloodied, sometimes in periods of peace is able to sing the glory of the victory of faith, but is always there.
This influence of the soul of the Armenian people I have at no time felt as deeply as when I was standing in the courtyard of an ancient monastery in the midst of a quiet vale in far-off Armenia.
Ah, what elocutionary silence that was. And then, visits to the firm, stone-built, ever-open churches of cities, towns, villages, hamlets, with the beckoning peal of their bells -- for all of sixteen centuries. Ah, what countless wonders they reveal about their powerful spirit that neither fire nor time has been able to dampen.
When I stand in an Armenian Church edifice, buried in such thoughts, it matters not how inglorious it may appear, I listen to the reading of the gospel, or the chanting or singing of the ancient sharakans, or the voicing of the supernal prayers, and I am deeply moved. Then, how can an Armenian remain indifferent to the mother soul -- I have tried in vain to understand. The fundamental idea of the Armenian Church is to spread the comforting warmth of its arms, and provide a shelter for all those who were born Armenian.
This concept is more true for the Armenian Church than it is for any other national church.
Let us admit that this idea is carefully protected. Another fine attribute of the Armenian Church is its tolerance of all other Christian groups. And I say with a fullness of meaning that those Armenians are fortunate who feel that their religious heritage is priceless.
Let this statement, a living creed, by Herbert Allen be a matter for reflection by all groups that are separated from the Armenian Church, especially for their leaders. That message comes to us from a foreign missionary.
In coming to Kharpert from America in 1900 and then to Van, he has dedicated his very busy life to the Armenian community.
After lecturing in the missionary school, he dedicated the greater part of his effort to the task of building, and he put his professional skill to effective use. He healed many who were sick, he was audacious in his work, and he was helpful and well liked.
He worked continually for the welfare of the Armenian people. In the familiar events of 1915, he joined those in the deportation and went with them to Yerevan. He became the overseer there of the work of the Near East Relief. In his humorous remarks he has said that he ‘was once the Armenian king.’ That was when the communist forces were approaching Yerevan and the former government of Armenia was fleeing, government affairs were in his hands, documents, (of course, no funds) which he, a day later, handed over to the new authorities. Dr. Ussher was a helpful and kind apostle for Vasburagan. It is sad that the confused situation of the times prevented him from carrying on his humanitarian work.
On returning to America, Dr. Ussher, in spite of his poor health, continued in his love and his contact with the Armenian people. He is now in California seeking rest and recovery of his health.
CAPTAIN ERNEST YARO
Missionary Yaro too was a teacher and a missionary worker in various positions. He was a supervisor of Armenians working for the missionaries, and many recall his name.
He presided over the missionary high school in Van. He provided a valuable service to the Armenian people during World War I in Van, and in Yerevan, helping orphans and especially those in miserable condition. He was awarded a medal of honor by the Armenian government. He died in 1940, in Yerevan.
PHYSICIAN MISS CAMPBELL
During the 80’s, this American woman came to Van, and was named supervisor of the girls’ school, which she managed well, together with her companion, Miss Johnson. Later, she returned to America and studied medicine. She then returned to Van and became a skilled and compassionate physician. She was well liked everywhere. As Dr. Reynolds’ assistant, she expanded and improved the pharmacy which was being managed by a graduate, Mr. Oksen Der Harutiunian (later a physician). That pharmacy carried medicines not to be found in the government pharmacy.
Dr. Campbell learned Armenian very quickly, and she spoke like a literate Armenian. She was interested in Armenian literature, which she read often. She was fascinated by the soul-stirring writings of Yeghishe, Khrimian, and Melkiset Muradian. Under the influence of their writings, she became an Armenian woman in heart and spirit.
Dr. Campbell added social service to her teaching and educational work. During the upheavals of 1895, villagers were pouring in to Van, seeking shelter, food, and health care. As was being done by Daniel Vartabed of the prelacy, to organize a committee to provide the care, Dr. Campbell, as well, organized a missionary care committee. Later, the two committees combined, under the direction of Dr. Campbell, who was the driving spirit behind the effort, with her practical approach and her Christian humanitarianism.
With the purchase of a large supply of wool, cotton, thread, etc., work was being provided women and girls, as well as for unemployed artisans. In this way the people were being protected from famine, thanks to the provided benefits. The crisis of ‘96 gave Dr. Campbell the opportunity of enlarging her operations, which she continued for an additional year. She worked day and night, struggled, became fatigued, but, as it was with others, she did not please Dr. Reynolds and had to leave Van after 15 years of diligent work
VERABADVELI ARSEN A. GEORGIZIAN
He was born in Van, where he received his education in the local American high school, and while still a youth he, with Verabadveli K. Bedrosian, founded the city-center boys’ school of Van. After serving there for four years, he was sent to the Anatolia College of Marsovan. From there he went to Germany where he received theological education in the Berlin Alliants Seminary. Returning to Van in 1912, he served to 1915 as vice principal of the city’s American co-educational school, and as pastor of the church of the same name.
After the tragic events of 1915, he went to the Caucasus as teacher in the school for the Armenian refugees in Baku, and at the same time served as preacher in the local Armenian Evangelical Church until 1917. For an additional year he served with the Near East Relief as director of the Home Relief division. In 1918, he was invited to become pastor of the Armenian Presbyterian Church of Tabriz.
Six months later, after the second great exodus from Vasburagan, and under the authority of the British army, he founded food stations along the Hamadan-Kirmanshah-Baghdad line to provide aid to his compatriots. At the end of the year, he was sent to Baghdad as representative of the Tehran National Council to the British government for the care of twenty thousand Armenian refugees there, in the Baquba desert, with the former Primate, Archbishop Mushegh Seropian. He founded and directed the Vasburagan and Araradian A.G.B.U. co-educational orphanages, later transferred to Jerusalem.
A year later, in 1918, on returning to Armenia, he served in the work of the Armenian Republic. He was then designated as regional director of the Near East Relief, in the overall relief in the Ghamarlu area. Later, he was designated as the representative of the London Lord Mayor’s Fund until the sovietization of Armenia. At the same time he was on the editorial staff of the daily paper “Tzayn Hayrenyats” published in Yerevan. In 1921 he returned to Tabriz, to his former pastoral position.
In 1923 Verabadveli Georgizian came to America and studied at the Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1925, he was invited as pastor of the two Armenian Presbyterian churches of Princeton and West New York. In 1928, he built the West New York church. He has served in churches in California, and at present he is pastor of the Salem Depot Presbyterian church. For twelve years he has been the secretary of the Armenian Evangelical Union of America. He has also supported the Vasburagan Society of America, as one of its founders, and many years as Chairman of the Central Committee. At present he is executive secretary. Thus, we see in him a diligent, effective, and dedicated life.
We have known Verabadveli Georgizian for the last 18 years, and we have seen him to be forthright, sociable, and patriotic, along with his religious faithfulness. And we can truthfully say that he is “a man of Israel in whom there is no evil.” He has worked for his people with dedication, and he has shown no discrimination among the well known persons of Van who serve in the Evangelical family. He has worked effectively with the clergy of the Apostolic faith, always warmly, and without prejudice of any kind. He has been cordial with followers of both faiths equally.
We are confident that from now on too, he will serve the nation with a pure and patriotic spirit. Verabadveli A. Georgizian, while in California, had the misfortune of losing his first life-mate, Mrs. Nevart, a sensitive poet, whose biography we give below.
MRS. NEVART GEORGIZIAN
She was born on March 12, 1899, in the city of Van. She graduated from the local American High School. She married Verabadveli A. A. Georgizian in 1915, becoming Van’s first bride in its freedom. Joining the deportation caravan in 1917-18, she was of great service to the Armenian orphans of Baghdad-Baquba, and she was awarded the title of “Mother of Orphans” by the British military command. She came to America in 1927. Through self-study and great diligence she became a poet bringing great honor to the Vanetsi. Unfortunately, a sickness that invaded her prevented her from realizing her hopes. She parted from us in Fresno, in 1941.
According to Rev. E. Rushduni, Nevart’s weary and frail body still cradled a vigorous and ready will, with an alert mind always eager to study and write, thanks to which she developed a cultivated mind and a flowing pen.
Neither sickness nor the great distance to the fatherland was able to dampen Nevart’s patriotism. She remained always loving of her homeland and Van’s blue sea, Varak mountain, and the general environment of Van. She loved Armenian music, the hymns of the Church and folk songs. She saw in them the finest emotions of our ancestors. We have heard that Rev. Georgizian is preparing to publish her literary produce. We give here several examples. The sadly departed one seems to have foretold her passing in mid-life. She “sang” the following.
These bitter days will soon pass.
We shall no longer be ‘I’ and ‘thou.’
A dream, out of life, as a shadow
Has come, and I and thou will pass on.
When we meet, at the other side of the grave.
Then may our souls interfuse, and there will no longer be I and thou.
DYARNENTARACH (PRESENTATION OF THE LORD)
It is the feast of Dyarnentarach, bride, the inextinguishable Light of the
Enlightener glows from our evening lanterns.
Let the light flare, from rooftops, courtyards, with variegated candles and
With music all about us, and family dancing, jump over the flames of the
blessed bonfire, bride.
Then spread the sparks in all directions, may they bring forth blessed native
Throw your tunic down from the rooftops, half burned, let goodness flow
from our homes and hands.
Be the priestess, bride, instead of roasted wheat grains, bring promises from
Cover with ashes the flame of our hearts, that we may not freeze before the
close of Dyarnentarach.
SONGS OF LONGING [Garodi Yerker]
By Nevart Georgizian
YOU PROMISED, YOU MUST COME
I have lowered the curtains of my window, but have left a tiny crack.
And with throbbing heart I am looking at the path by which you will come.
I am looking from behind the curtain, that you may not see me waiting.
I am afraid, take pity on me.
Your looking is incapable of penetrating the curtains of my window,
It is in vain that you seek me. There is no one awaiting you.
SECRET LOVE [Kaghdni Ser]
The maid invites you to come to the small chamber, saying that I shall come.
But I shall not come at once. I want you to wait.
For that reason I have undone my hair, and am combing it once again.
It frightens me to remain idle; I may become impatient, and come in,
Without forcing you to wait long.
Impatience foams on your face. You knead your fingers.
You strike the floor with your toes. I see you through the keyhole.
I rub on the door with something, as though I am coming.
You stand there, waiting to greet me. Your eyes gleam, and your smile dances
on your reddened face.
But still I come not. I want you to wait till you burst.
That gives me much pleasure.
I HATE [Yes Adum Yem]
I hate the daybreak ... I hate the cool winds of the dawn
That endlessly drive away, chase the impenetrable darkness of night.
Each time, at daybreak when the cocks crow,
And I hear the caw of crows, my heart is torn to bits.
The stars fall out of the sky with the fleeing night, driven by an unknown force,
but I know where.
I hate the opening dawn, that snatched the night from my bosom.
It gathered up its skirts, like the night, and went off far, where the night went.
If daybreak had not cone, and the darkness had not flown, it would have
remained with me.
If, for only once, the night would be as long as eternity.
For that reason I keep my window shutters closed against the dawn,
And cover them with heavy curtains, so that ...so that I may live that part of night,
When we, in close embrace, far from all eyes under the spread’s cover of darkness, Spend the whole of night in fairyland.
Why should I not hate the light of dawn, and all the noises that greet it.
VERABADVELI E. KH. RUSHDUNI
He was born in the Nor Avan village of the Kavash canton, in the state of Van, in 1889. This village is historical, according to Ormanian in his “Azkabadum.” Conciliation took place between the Pakraduni and the Ardzruni princely families with the marriage of Prince Ashod’s daughter to the Prince Derenig of the Ardzruni family, thus establishing a familial tie and friendship. The celebration took place in the Nor Avan of the Rushduni family. Badveli Rushduni’s family being the oldest of the area, we might conclude that the celebration took place at their home. His birth having taken place at the time of the abstinence of Elijah, he was named Yeghia [Elijah], but later, to honor his priest Yeghiazar, his name was changed to Yeghiazar.
A school teacher later added the surname Rushduni. His father’s name was Khachig, who had wanted also to be a priest, but during a fight with some Turks a blow to his head caused him to lose the sight of one eye, and through grief he died a few years later. The father and mother also died, and Yeghiazar became an orphan.
He received the education of the times from one of the priests and the school teacher -- Psalms, Bible, Yeghishe, and Nareg. For making an analysis of the latter, one would be looked upon as evidence of having received the highest level of education. And Rushduni, with his high aptitude, at age thirteen, had made that analysis, and that gave him the honor of teaching in his school for one year.
His desire for learning led him to leave the village school and go to Van where he was admitted to the Norashen school. Hardly six months later, the troubles of 1896 having begun, Rushduni was accepted in the American orphanage where he completed the seven-year course of study in two and a half years. He was graduated in 1899, and, as a repayment for the free education he had received, he taught for one year in his native regions of Nareg and elsewhere. In that way he paid his debt of gratitude.
From 1900 to 1902 he took the two-year course in the newly opened American high school. Teachers there were Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Ussher and his wife, H. Yeramian, Der Mesrop Kahana Janigian, and Hampartzum Hatsakordzian, a graduate of the seminary at Echmiadzin, all of them competent.
A year after Rushduni had completed his course of study he went to Anatolia College, in Marsovan (1903-7) and completed his studies successfully, leaving a very strong moral influence on the students. He inculcated them with the spirit for industriousness and progress, joining together the YMCA and the calisthenics regimens. Rev. Rushduni was then invited to teach at the American high school in Van. It was in those times that the local “New Generation” group had rebelled against their parents, and against the sanctity of family and faith. Rev. Rushduni took a strong stance against their abominable behavior, flagellating them right and left. The people in an emotional action, turned to the primate of the time, Zaven Vartabed (later Patriarch of Armenians in Turkey), protesting that he, Rev. Rushduni, and H. Yeramian, who were alternately giving advice in the churches and cautioning the youth, to stop that wrong practice.
In 1908, Rev. Rushduni chose his future life-mate and co-worker, the modest Miss Vartanush Ghazarian, sending her to Marsovan to complete her education. In 1909, he went to Edinburgh University in Scotland, where, in 1912, he received the degree of Master of Arts. He also studied Political Economy, Commercial Geography, and European History. and others, especially his favorite, Theology. He lapped up a 12-year course of study in three years, receiving certificates for having completed each of those courses mentioned. His worthiness having become known broadly, he received calls from many quarters, inviting him to teach or preach. But Rushduni preferred Van -- the dear fatherland which he wanted to serve. But alas, fighting began, as well as retreat, which he joined with his family, and then it was America. For six months he worked on the editorial staff of the Gotchnag weekly paper, and then decided that he wanted to devote himself to the pastoral field. He organized new churches in California, Detroit, and San Francisco. He purchased buildings, and through his efforts cleared the mortgages on the Euphrates Evangelical Church of Providence.
In this way, dashing from place to place, preaching, working, Rev. Rushduni found love and sympathy through his easily approached and sincere manner. But his health forced him finally to leave the pastoral field that he loved, and withdraw to his vineyard in Kingsburg, near his children and grandchildren. Along with his pastoral duties, Rev. Rushduni constantly wrote articles for “Avedaper” of Constantinople, “Gotchnag, Nor Or, and other papers.
VERABADVELI KAPRIEL BEDROSIAN
He was born in the Haygavank parish of the city on January 15, 1881. His early education was received in the missionary school of Van in the Norashen parish schools. He graduated from the high school in 1901. He took a two-year course on theology under the missionaries. That was the beginning of the missionary college of Van, but because of the war the plan was not continued. He served in the city’s girls’ school for five years, and at the same time as principal for the boys’ schools, while teaching at the Santukhdian girls’ school and in the missionaries’ co-educational school in Aygestan. During that same time period he opened co-educational schools in the village of Avan.
In 1908, he came to America with Dr. Ussher and settled in Boston for a year, after which he went to the Armenian Evangelical Church of Lawrence to serve as pastor for nine years. He worked in the National Union million-dollar fund, and also for the A.G.B.U. “Salvation Contest” together with General Antranig, of blessed memory. His second pastoral assignment was in Worcester, the capital city for Armenians in America, where he served for many years. While serving in the Lawrence and Worcester churches, he studied at the following schools: one year at Boston University and Clark University, and eight years at Harvard and Andover theological schools.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1918 with the following degrees: Master of Arts, and S.T.B. in Theology. While serving in Lawrence he served also in Salem Depot, New Hampshire Armenian Evangelical Church where he built the present church edifice. During his pastoral duties in Worcester he visited and served the Armenians of 17 cities and towns of the area. During that same period he visited and preached in the Haverhill mission.
In 1936, he accepted the pastorship of the Los Angeles Armenian Gethsemane church, where he built the present church. During that period, he attended the University of Southern California in quest of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, but unfortunately the death of his former wife prevented him from fulfilling his desire. Starting in 1948, he accepted the pastorship of Oakland Bethany church. He organized the Sacramento mission, which he attends often to preach.
Rev. Bedrosian, with his friendly manner, has won the approval, wherever he has served, of both the Apostolic and the Evangelical communities. With his liberal mind, he has been true to his faith, and has always been helpful to those who approached him. He has always been present at national fund-raising events, and has spoken always as a true patriot. He has written for many papers on religious, national and social issues. We expect from him continued and evermore crystallized activity. He has a highly intellectual mind, and we have never doubted his patriotism.
We were recently pained to learned that while preaching, he had a heart attack, and was taken to a hospital. That attack affected his life-mate who had just returned from the hospital, putting her in shock, leading to her death. The reverend continues to suffer in his painful condition.
REV. HAGOP M. MUDOIAN
He was born in the canton of Hayots Tzor, in a village on the shore where there is a grave of the chieftain Adom. It is a prosperous village with productive vineyards. It had seventy homes and a few churches and historical sites, not far from the Khorkom and Keoshg villages, where Vart Badrig’s grave was.
His family was well respected and economically successful. The father, Mahdesi Murad, was at one time a secretary in the Constantinople tax office. There were several brothers, and a fine mother, in all a hospitable and devout family. Hagop was born on December 1, 1878. He grew up like the other good children of the village. He was educated by the kahana Der Avedis. The village had earlier had a school taught by one of the seminarians, teacher Nshan, a good scholar, of the Akhtamar seminary school. The United Society of Constantinople also had its school, being taught by a teacher from Constantinople named Khachig effendi.
In 1886, Hagop entered the school, and studied under Vanetsi Khachadur Kruzian (later kahana), until 1897, and then under Shadakhtsi Murad effendi Manugian until 1894. He then became a teacher in the village of Mashdag. When he was 18 years old, his father died, and he went to the village of Ghezelbash to teach. He then returned to Mashdag until 1904. At that time, a brave youth of 20 years, Mudoian decided to enter the field of ministry, inspired by the missionaries, becoming a humble official without forgetting his patriotic zeal. Now let us turn to one of his acquaintances to describe Mudoian’s life and works, so impressive and productive.
The American missionary representative in Van, Dr. Reynolds, handed over the work of selling Bibles to Mudoian in 1904, and at the same time he was entrusted with managing the missionary school of the province, following Mr. Kh. Kruzian. After that he was invited to oversee all the missionary schools of the Van province from 1906 to 1915. He carried on in that assignment conscientiously, maintaining a strong spirit of love of religion, education, nation, and fatherland in the people. At the same time, he preached the high and majestic principles of the Gospel, using as his basis, humanitarianism, brotherly love, and social awareness. He instilled the love of education and church throughout the province, and, as he had done in Mashdag, renovating and refurbishing the church, he did it for all the villages in Hayots Tzor. He was loved by the people of all the villages, and, one might believe that the saying, “a prophet has no honor in his own land,” is wrong, for Mudoian was honored and highly respected and loved by all the people indiscriminately throughout the province, even by the foreigners.
Rev. Mudoian traveled extensively throughout the provinces of Van and Bitlis on educational and evangelical work, in Timar, Arjesh, Aljavaz, Gargjan, Kavash, Hayots Tzor, Shadakh, and surroundings. He traveled with the American representative Dr. Reynolds in Moks, Mamerdank, Voghm, Sbargerd, Khizan, and Gargar. In March of 1910, he and 38 others climbed Nemrut Mountain.
His activity in teaching, selling books, and supervision of missionary schools in the province spanned the interval from 1898 to 1915. There were 32 schools in the province, all with competent teachers who had graduated from the missionary and national schools.
During the days of the defense of Van-Vasburagan, Rev. Mudoian performed veritable miracles in rescuing the 10,000 to 15,000 Armenians of Hayots Tzor from certain annihilation. With rifle in hand, and displaying the light of the Gospel, he was the leader of heroic, but weakened people. This is the way a witness described it. It was the morning of April 8, 1915, all of the people of Hayots Tzor were rescued from annihilation by Kurdish and Turkish mobs by Mudoian. Thousands of people they were, moving in good order, carrying their children, but barefoot, hungry, tired in the march through rain and darkness. At dawn, as they were nearing the monastery on the heights of the village of Sekhta, the slowly moving column of people were noticed by the Turks that had occupied the monastery. Then it came, a frightful assault by hundreds of the enemy on horseback. Mudoian, who was carrying his own two-year old child, put it down, and directed hardly a few dozen of his armed young men to take a defense position and there, on the slopes that rose toward Varak, form a barrier against the advancing Turkish horsemen.
The action was taken instantly. All dropped what they were carrying, even children, and responded to Mudoian’s self-sacrificing example. And then, what astonishment, what miracle! A dense lightning cloud descended from the hilltop and covered the people, concealing them from the attacking Turks until the people had escaped. The when the air cleared, all that the Turks saw was a dozen or so of the young men’s rifles. Mudoian’s leadership rescued the people from there without getting scorched, with only one loss. Some time earlier he had shown his mettle during the defense of Hayots Tzor when his faultless aim had saved the besieged people from the fire of four or more cannons. That is how a witness described it, and more.
Then, in carrying out his duties as distributor of American aid, he went to Magu and Khoy, and transported clothing for 43 thousand people to Van in a large caravan. Arriving in May, he proceeded in distributing the supplies, as well as in his evangelical work, until the morning of July 26, when the second retreat from Van took place. Mudoian went to the Caucasus, and there continued in the same kind of activity with the British representative Captain Grace.
The American missionary aid committee oncc again called on Mudoian, who traveled over the plains of Shirag and Ararat, through the villages of Nor Bayazid, Abaran, Karakilise, and hundreds of Armenian villages, until the end of June 1917.
The first orphanage of American aid was organized in Yerevan, where 100 orphans were brought. Mudoian was invited to serve as director, until March 1918 when Captain Yarro and Maynard left for America. Their places were taken by two young Americans, Elder and Arrol.
After the Armistice, American aid expanded its activity, increasing the number of its orphanages. Mudoian managed five orphanages, which had nearly a thousand orphans. In 1919, Mudoian was selected (along with Vartabed Yeznig Nergararian and Hampartzum of Mog) as a representative of the Armenian Council. The American Aid Committee, in the 1919-1920 period, was providing nearly 45,000 persons with two meals a day. During this period Mudoian was serving in a number of positions and places. That continued until about 1928 when he, not of his own will, went to Persia. On April 28, 1925, he was ordained a minister in the Armenian Evangelical Church, and continues now to serve in that capacity (1948), with full authority. His service in dedication to his people, and his exemplary life, his spirit for sacrifice and his noble humanitarian feelings have made him well loved and respected by the people and by government officials of Hamadan (Persia).
He enjoys the unconditional approval of the Evangelical community, as well as of the Apostolic community. On occasions of national feast days he gives talks on common topics and on evangelical truths. In his preaching and in his community works he encourages patience, love, and brotherly understanding and cooperation in national, cultural and all aspects of community life.
He has always been distant from narrow issues of faith, and a true believer in the Word. National traditions, for him, were sanctities. He was well versed in history, and in religious concepts, and he understood societal relationships and popular humanitarianism.
Mudoian was a great Armenian.
Rev. Mudoian has received numerous certificates honoring him for his countless and varied services from highest levels of American and Armenian agencies, certainly more than twenty.
Rev. Hagop Mudoian holds a unique position among workers arising out of Van-Vasburagan, in his having through his own efforts risen to the high level of popular love. His was an exemplary life of a Christian, and in his 50 long years of service he had never slowed down or tired. He extended a helping hand to all who needed it, worked to enhance the cultural level, and inspired faith and hope for the vision of a free Armenia.
REV. MARDIROS DER SAHAGIAN
He was born in the Mogs province of Vasburagan. He received his early education in the American high school for boys, in Van. He then attended the Anatolia College of Marsovan. He served as a teacher in the village of Dzevasdan, in the American high school for boys in Van, and then in the schools of the village of Shadakh. In that last capacity, he served also as a preacher for the Armenian Evangelical community and as vice superintendent of the united Apostolic and Evangelical schools.
In 1915, in order to obtain more regular aid for the more than ten thousand displaced Salmasd refugees in Persia, Mudoian went as delegate to the Caucasus to bring that dire situation to the attention of the aid body and to the Catholicos of All Armenians. Not long later that effort brought about both material and moral aid.
He was married in Yerevan in 1916. He obtained aid in Yerevan and in Tiflis from the American Near East Relief, and he served in large and responsible positions. Later, he accepted the position as pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Tiflis during the period 1919 to 1928.
He was ordained President of the Armenian Evangelical Committee of Ararat by Rev. Vahan Mikaelian and Rev. Titus Manugian. After serving successfully for eight years in Tiflis, he and his family moved to Germany where he remained for two years. He then went to France in 1930 and served in two evangelical missions, in Alforville and Bisset (Paris suburbs). He and his family came to America in 1934, and took the position in charge of the New Britain Evangelical mission. Then, in 1937, he took on the Chelsea mission, and in 1945 the Hollywood Armenian Congregational Church where he now serves.
After coming to America he attended Boston and Harvard Universities, one year each, for the study of theology, philosophy, and psychology. He wrote for the “Van Dosp,” “Panper,” and “Baikar” papers. He has a large quantity of unpublished works on religion, and poetry.
REV. MARDIROS BAGHDASARIAN
He was born in 1868 in the village of Pirbadalan, of Noduz. He was the brother of the talented painter Hovhan Baghdasarian.
He graduated from the American school of Van, and the Kharpert Theological school. He was a preacher in Van for six years, in Lawrence for two years, and Boston for 18 years. He was an editor for the Gotchnag weekly. He was a correspondent with “Artzakank,” “Avedaper,” and other papers. He wrote countless articles on national and moral issues, signing them with pen-names “Vasbur,” and “Rusas.”
He died in Los Angeles in 1941, under unfortunate circumstances. The deceased was a free-thinking, dedicated pastor. He was a faithful Christian, with sensitive feelings, a courageous speaker and preacher, forthright, and sociable. He has preached also in West New York, Lawrence, and Pasadena.
BADVELIS HIUSIAN AND KHACHADURIAN
In California, there are two evangelical preachers, Badvelis Hiusian and Khachadurian, for whom we do not have biographies. But we are sure that their life stories are like those that we have, and they were born in Van, They received their education in an American environment, served in schools, preached, moved from place to place, came to America, first in the east and then in California, where they found their flocks and now serve in their positions.
Page (of book) Page (of Translation)
Geography of Van - Map 8
Varak Monastery 44
Khrimian Hairig 39
Bishop Karekin Servantzdiants 67
Van Fortress 73
Bishop Sion Manugian 114
M. Portukalian 174
A. Tarpinian 192
Prof. Set Arsenian 197
Prof. L. Levonian 202
M. Avedisian 209
Yeghishe Vartabed Derderian 218
Kalusd Kazanjian 220
Baronig Baronigian 225
Nshan Hagopian 234
Mikayel Natanian 255
Dr. H. Hovhannesian 279
Dr. K. Malkhasian 286
Rev. Georgizian 301
Mrs. Nevart Georgizian 304