The First Armenian Church in United States

The Altar of Sourp Pergich (Holy Saviour)Aremenian Church.

The pioneers of Armenian immigration to the United States were young high school graduates who, beginning in 1834, arrived in small numbers in search of higher education at American universities.

Larger groups began arriving in the 1880s and 1890s to escape Ottoman Turkish oppression, especially the massacres of 1895-96. The influx of Armenian immigrants to the New World reached its peak in the aftermath of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, when large numbers of Armenians living in Turkey were systematically persecuted, deported and exterminated by the Ottoman regime.

The first Armenian Church in United States, was built on Laurel Street, in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1890 and consecrated on Jan 18, 1891. It was named "Soorp Pergich" (Holy Saviour). ( The last Der Hayr (pastor) was Rev Mekjian. His son later changed his name to Mekka as in Eddie Mekka from the Lavern & Shirley show. He was know as Carmine the big Ragu and also went on to Broadway.) The church was eventualy sold and became a Russian Orthodox Church. It still stands today.

The first Armenian clergyman had arrived earlier, in response to a petition by 300 Armenian residents of the city. By 1897, as the number of Armenian immigrants grew, there were six clergymen serving the Armenian Church in America. With the exception of Worcester, services were held in non-Armenian sanctuaries, notably Episcopalian churches. The Armenian Church of America was established officially by Catholicos Mkrtich Khrimian in 1898.

ps: Would like to thank Mr. Tom Belezerian for supplying the pictures and the information.




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