California's oldest Armenian Church to salute Senior Pastor and Family

Members and friends of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church of Fresno will salute Senior Pastor Mgrdich Melkonian, his wife Houri, and their family at an Appreciation Luncheon on Sunday afternoon, May 20, 2012.

Reverend Melkonian is concluding his Central California pastorate of almost nine years to accept a call to ministry from the Armenian Missionary Association of America in the Republic of Armenia. Reverend Melkonian has been designated Mentor Pastor to the pastors of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Republic of Armenia. He will observe his first day in the new pastorate on July 1, 2012.

Rev. Melkonian was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1954. He received his early education at the Emmanuel Armenian Evangelical School and the Karen Jeppe Azkayn Jemaran (high school) in his native city.                           

In 1974 and 1975, Rev. Melkonian served as a teacher at the Bethel Armenian Evangelical School in Aleppo. In fall 1975, he enrolled as a pre-theological student at the Near East School of Theology (NEST) in Beirut, Lebanon. The 1976 civil war in Lebanon interrupted his education and he returned to Aleppo to again teach at Bethel School. The following year he resumed his education in Beirut.

In 1982 he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Armenian literature from Haigazian University. In 1984, he earned his Master of Divinity degree from NEST and he married Houri Aposhian, a fellow graduate of NEST. The couple has three daughters, Alina, Shogher and Tamar, and one grandson, Peter Mgo Shanoian.

Upon his graduation from seminary, the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East called Melkonian to serve as the director of the Armenian Evangelical youth in Syria and Lebanon. In the succeeding five years, he served as Christian Educator of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in Damascus, Horns, Kessab and Aleppo. He also served as preacher at the Armenian Evangelical Martyrs' Church and Bethel Armenian Evangelical Church in Aleppo.

In 1989, the First Armenian Evangelical Church of Montreal, Quebec called Melkonian to its pastorate. The Armenian Evangelical Union of North America ordained him a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in 1990.                   

During his stay in Quebec, Reverend Melkonian started the Tebi Louys (Toward Light) television ministry and chaired the task force for the AEUNA 12th Biennial General Assembly. He also served as vice-president of the Armenian Missionary Association of Canada.

In 1995, the United Armenian Congregational Church of Hollywood, California called Melkonian as associate pastor for parish development On June 1, 2003, the FAPC congregation called Reverend Melkonian as its 11th Senior Pastor.

Reverend Melkonian was installed in the Senior Pastorate of FAPC on Sunday, September 21, 2003. Along with his almost nine-year parish ministry; he has served as Moderator of the AEUNA (2002-2004) and he presided at the Union's 17th Biennial General Assembly in Fresno on June 23-27, 2004. He is currently the Moderator of the AEUNA and will preside at the Union’s 21st Biennial General Assembly in Montreal (June 28-July 1, 2012). Reverend Melkonian is also the current President of the Armenian Evangelical World Council.

Forty immigrants from Marsovan chartered the Fresno congregation in a rented hall on July 25, 1897. The boyhood church of authors William Saroyan and A.I. Bezzerides and filmmaker J. Michael Hagopian, FAPC today is a multigenerational evangelical congregation drawn from the Old and New Worlds.

Reverend Mike Mekredijian is the Associate Pastor of the congregation, Philip C. Garo, Jr., M.Div. is the Director of Children's and Youth Ministries, and Elder Edward Saliba and Mary Lou Bagdasarian are Co-Chairs of the Appreciation Luncheon Committee.

The 2012 theme of the congregation is "A New Mission."