This booklet is created on the occasion of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Consecration of the first level of St. George Armenian Apostolic Church of Hartford, Connecticut. It is a tribute to all those who were willing to strive, no matter how difficult or lengthy the task may have been, to succeed in building a church in the community. One of their main objectives was to ensure that Armenian culture and religion would be represented among the other cultures and churches of Greater Hartford.
Due to their foresight, this long effort finally saw fruition so that the children and families of the area have had the advantage of an available and viable place of worship and learning — a place to continue the culture of their Armenian ancestors. It is our fervent hope that as Armenian-Americans, our efforts will represent a contribution of significant value to the country of our adoption and will encourage our future generations to emulate this example.
To the best of our knowledge, a number of Armenians arrived in the Hartford area in the early years of the 20th century. The area was subsequently served by itinerant clergy during a period when all local Armenians, regardless of political affiliation, were united as one Parish.
The final effort to build an Armenian Church in Hartford began in 1944 with the formation of a Building Committee composed of: John Giligian, Chairman; George B. Norsigian, Secretary; Khayajan Surmelian, Treasurer; and Richard Bedrossian and Aram Hakimian. This committee was enlarged in the next several years to include: Antranig Ajemian, Edward Bagdigian, Dr. Garo Bulbul, David Kazarian, Lazarus Kazarian, Girard Kevorkian and Stephen Simonian. This committee’s efforts were well rewarded with the completion and Consecration of the lower level in September of 1953. This new structure, the first Armenian Church, ever in Hartford, was named “St. George Armenian Apostolic Church” by the Godfather and Godmother, Mr. John Choolgian and his mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Choolgian.
In the mid-1950’s, Mr. John Choolgian was appointed Chairman of a Building Committee charged to complete the upper structure of our church. Little progress was realized until the 1959 Parish Council began moving for action by investigating alternate ways to complete the superstructure within reachable estimates of cost. In actuality, the 1959 Parish Council served as the Building Committee and formed a Building Fund Committee to assist it. After many meetings and Parish Assemblies to traverse the numerous alternate decisions, a builder was chosen and construction was started.
The superstructure was completed and Consecrated in September 1961; and a few short years later the total costs of construction were paid off in full — to the everlasting credit of the Armenian people of Greater Hartford, to our friends in other parishes and to many of our non-Armenian friends and well wishers.
In 1913, the Hartford Church Ladies Auxiliary was organized with the following executives: Anna Kallajian, Chairperson; Jouhar Giligian, Treasurer and with Vartanoush Kallajian, Anna Zamagochian and Anagiul Jamgochian. This group continued through changes of executives for fifty years, holding many affairs, raising funds which were eventually used for the building of the church. In 1963, some of the venerable, experienced senior women, their ranks depleted by age and death merged with the Young Women’s Guild of St. George Church, to still continue their long years of service in the way they know best.
In addition to these two ladies groups, other active units strived to help organize the church community. In so doing, they accumulated funds to help accomplish the construction efforts. These groups were: The Knights of St. George, the ACYOA Jrs., the ACYOA Srs., the various Parish Councils, the Sunday School and its Parents’ Auxiliary.
The road from here forward must inevitably involve the next several generations. New challenges require timely changes in direction and objectives. New and stimulating incentives and programs to set inspiring goals for the young to strive for are necessary to keep abreast with our youth’s desires to keep abreast with and ahead of their contemporary counterparts. These challenges are before us, awaiting action!