For more than 50 years, many members of our parish have played special roles in bringing to the community together to celebrate our beautiful Armenian church service on each and every Sunday. Even before our community consecrated Soorp Khatch, our Clergy, Acolytes, Choir Directors, Organists and Choir members celebrated our Badarak (Holy Mass) in other denominational churches. At the time, our community consisted of very few families and it was a handful of individuals who came together and dedicated themselves to make sure that the Armenian religion and identity were maintained.
Badarak without a sargavark would be rather difficult and in the 1950s, the church parishioners enjoyed the beautiful singing of Jirair Dickranian, with his soft melodic voice, and Zareh Balian, with his powerful voice and the personality that charmed everyone. When these two sang, the parish members felt as though they were in heaven. There was Garabed Devletian, who always took such pride in serving on the Altar that he had designed and built (up until it was redesigned recently). A holiday never went by without Garabed acknowledging altar boys and choir members with candy and flowers. He was proud to say that when he was a young man he sang in Komidas Vartabed’s chorus in Istanbul. Then there was Mihran Banerian (fondly called “Mr. Cheese”), always ready to serve as a sarkavark. Last but not least was Andranik Mouradian, who never said “No” to whatever was asked of him. New sarkavarks emerged, such as the soft-spoken and heavenly voice of Aram Balekjian; he served with reverence and dedication throughout the years until his illness forced him to retire. Throughout the years, the following dedicated individuals have served as sargavarks: Khajak Balekjian, Ardavast Dabbaghian, Karnig Dinkjian, Richard Doyan, Onnik Mutafian, Garbis Muradian, Garo Evereklian, Haroutioun Doukmajian, Vrej Besiryan, Ohan Balian, Hovik Apkarian, Sarkis Nazarian, Rosdom Sarkissian, George Zabounian, Sarkis Doudaklian, and Sarkis Aktavoukian, and stole/fan bearers, Christopher Arabian and Gabriel (Kapo) Apkarian.
Soorp Khatch is currently served by the following Deacons: Mr. Sarkis Aktavoukian, Mr. Sarkis Doudaklian, Mr. George Zabounian and Mr. Gabriel Apkarian (stole/fan bearer)
In the past, there were always two acolytes chosen from the Sunday school to hold the candles during church service every Sunday. A list would be displayed on the wall with names of each acolyte for each Sunday over the course of the year. Of course, in the beginning, with the community and school being so small, there weren’t a great number of young boys available to serve as acolytes. Alas, the church was blessed to have the following boys serve as acolytes over the years: Michael Jr, David and Robert Najarian; Lawrence, Gregory and Allen Loosararian; Vahan Khoyan; Michael Dombalagian; Gregory Ornazian; Gregg Atanossian; Garo and Raffi Aharonian; Ara Ayrandjian; Alex and Richard Balian; Robert and Richard Roomian; Armen Tavitian; Sevag Sinanian; Hrair Gakavian; Michael Caroglanian; Ara and Michael Kouchakdjian; Marashlian brothers; Hratch, Hrair and Haik Paghchanian; Christopher Arabian; Bedig Gelladian; Avo Aghguiguian and Arek Tatevosian.
The first Soorp Khatch Choir Director was Ashod Mnatzakanian, a devoted, talented violinist and engineer who gave so much of his time to the choir. He lived in Baltimore and once a week would take the train to Washington, D.C., to hold choir rehearsals at St. James Episcopal Church. When Mr. Mnatzakanian was unable to rehearse, his reliable assistant, Mrs. Sossie (Kavaldjian) Kochakian, took over. If the rehearsals weren’t held at the church, the members practiced at each other’s homes.
After Mr. Mnatzakanian officially retired, Armenag Boyadjian took over as the Director. Other devoted individuals who served as Choir Directors over the years included Sarkis Boyadjian, Karine Voos, Dicran Jamgochian, Lawrence Ayvazian and our current Choir Director Anahid Dardarian.
Our current female choir members include: Yeretzgin Maggie Aktavoukian, Mrs. Mary Altounjian, Mrs. Nayiri Apkarian, Mrs. Nairi Balian,Ms. Vivian Chakarian, Mrs. Seda Gregoian, Mrs. Sossy Khatcheressian, Mrs. Nevarth Moussessian, Mrs. Maro Nalbandian, Mrs. Emma Soghomonian, Mrs. Zabel Sabounjian, Mrs. Sonia Tavitian,
Our current male choir members include: Dr. Avedis Abrahamian, Mr. Hovig Apkarian, Mr. Vrej Beshirian, Mr. Vosgan Galooshian, Mr. Onnik Mutafian, Mr. Kajaz Safarian, Mr. Theodore Xakellis, Miss Shoghak Aktavoukian and Miss Shoghig Apkarian.
Female choir members over the years have included: Sossie Kavaldjian, Margaret Assatourian, Rose Balian, Jenny Loosararian, Alice Najarian, Oski Ordnazian, Nyart Sharigian, Seda Gelenian, Amy Roomian, Yeretskin Baboghlian, Yeretskin Mekhsian, Arty Vartanian, Srpouhi Serengulian, Naomi, Mary and Virginia Aharonian, Rose Vartanian, Khonar Tavitian, Carol and Margaret Ordnazian, Elyse Magarian, Elizabeth Hanoian, Martha Hananian, Araxi Aghajanian, Anahid Ayrandjian, Sara Natcharian, Mrs. Yenikomshian, Yeretskin and Nora Vertanesian, Maro Vertanesian Nalbandian, Seena Sinanian, Lisa Caroglanian, Shoghik Tramblian, Maro Roomian, Maro Asatoorian, Azniv Derzookian, Hakinth Terpandjian, Linda Najarian, Maral Kazanjian, Suzy Petrossian, Mariana Gevorkian, Garine Sayian, Heidi Minassian, Sonya Tavitian, Dikranouhi Chakarian, Haigouhi Melkonian, Cara Aghajanian, Rita Terzian, Ardemis Jerikian, Nairi and Sarine Balian, Karoun Demirjian, Nevarth Movsessian, Aghavni Miranian, Yeretskin Maggie and Shoghag Aktavoukian, Mary Altounjian, Zabel Sabounjian, Nayiri and Shogheeg Apkarian, Pamela Tosounian, Ani Achikian, Garine and Tzolig Achikian, Anahid Dardarian, Sossy Khacheressian, Emma Soghomonian and Vivian Chakarian.
Male choir members over the years have included: Gourgen Assatourian, Dr. Haigaz Gregorian, Noubar Ayrandjian, John Sayian, Mihran Sinanian, John Jerikian, Harout Kholanian, Bedros Bastajian, Haikaz Shakarji, Peter Mnatzakanian, Sarkis Nazarian, Hovsep Apkarian, Vosgan Galooshian, Mihran Kochyan, Vatche Yergatian, Sahak Dardarian, G. Avedikian, Theodore Xalleddis, Onnik Mutafian, Avo Abrahamian, Kajaz Safarian and Vrej Beshiryan.
The first Badarak prior to Soorp Khatch was celebrated at St. Elizabeth’s Episcopalian Church in Washington, D.C. At that time, Yeghisabeth Grigorian played the organ on a few occasions followed by Eleanor Caroglanian, who took over as our official organist. Mrs. Caroglanian served as our organist for almost 60 years. During that time, many young talented individuals have played the organ during church service as needed including: Boghos Zulikian, Amy Roomian, Lawrence Ayvazian, Arpi (Peltekian) Dilanian, Linda Najarian, Onnig Dombalagian, Levon Eynatian and Hratch Hovanessian. Today, Sonia Mekerdijian and Eleanor Caroglanian serve as the organists for our church.