Sacred Transformation: Armenian Churches in Los Angeles

March 2003 – May 2003

Photographs of the Exhibition

Supported by an undergraduate research grant from the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California, with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

There are thirty-six Armenian churches in the Los Angeles basin, with concentrations in Glendale, Hollywood, Pasadena, and Montebello. There are twenty Armenian Protestant churches, the majority of which adhere to the Evangelical Church; thirteen Armenian Apostolics (five under the jurisdiction of the Catholicos of Antelias (Cilicia), eight under the Catholicos of Etchmiadzin); and two Armenian Catholic churches. In their design, the church buildings are a syncretism of traditional Armenian design and twentieth-century California architecture. It is that transformation from tradition and Armenia to modernity and Southern California that is most striking.

Armenia is a country with a more than two- thousand year history. Christianity became the state religion in 301 CE, Armenia being the first state to adopt Christianity. Distinctively, the Armenian Apostolic Church accepted only the earliest Christian doctrines. In the nineteenth century, European and American missionizing led to the formation of the Armenian Protestant Church and the Armenian Catholic Church.

Throughout the history of Armenia, when it was controlled by external forces (often under the auspices of Islam) and without a state, and in the Diaspora communities, the Armenian Apostolic Church became the enduring symbol of the distinctive Armenian people and their land.

More than a hundred years ago, Armenians came to Southern California, at first to Fresno, and then to Los Angeles and San Francisco. They were migrants who had settled first on the East Coast, and only later moved to the West Coast. More recently, many Armenians came directly from the Soviet Union. In building churches in the Diaspora, Armenians wanted to recall the ancient edifices in Armenia, yet those churches were adapted to the styles and realities of their new homes. Those ancient edifices were based on a Roman ground plan and the Greek basilica. The church should be oriented toward the East, it almost always has a pointed pyramidal dome resting on arches extending above the roof, and its proportions and guidelines are set by past Armenian examples.

Church architecture is always the presence of the sacred in the everyday world. For the Armenians, the Church is as well a sign of their survival and endurance.

Yeghig L. Keshishian Undergraduate Student University of Southern California

This exhibit continues our tradition of highlighting work initiated in Price School of Public Policy courses and projects. We are grateful for our students’ deep commitment to their endeavors.

Martin H. Krieger Professor of Planning

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Name City Denomination
Armenian Apostolic Church Tujunga Apostolic
Armenian Apostolic Church of La Verne La Verne Apostolic
Armenian Apostolic Church of Pasadena Pasadena Apostolic
Armenian Baptist Church La Verne Protestant- Baptist
Armenian Bible Church Pasadena Protestant
Armenian Bible Church of the Nazarene Sun Valley Protestant
Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church Pasadena Protestant- Brotherhood Bible Churches
Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church (Glendale/Burbank) Glendale Protestant- Brotherhood Bible Churches
Armenian Brotherhood Bible Church (Hollywood Los Angeles Protestant- Brotherhood Bible Churches
Armenian Catholic Church Queen of Martyrs Los Angeles Catholic
Armenian Church of The Nazarene Glendale Protestant
Armenian Cilicia Congregational Church Altadena Protestant- Evangelical
Armenian Evangelical Brethren Church Los Angeles Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America
Armenian Evangelical Brethren Church Pasadena Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America
Armenian Evangelical Church of Hollywood Los Angeles Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America
Armenian Evangelical Church of Montebello Montebello Protestant- affiliated with Evangelical Union of America
Christ Armenian Church Glendale Protestant
First Armenian Evangelical Church of Glendale Glendale Protestant- Evangelical
First Armenian Pentecostal Church La Habra Heights Protestant- Pentecostal
Holy Cross Armenian Apostolic Cathedral Montebello Apostolic
Holy Martyrs Armenian Apostolic Church Encino Apostolic
Holy Trinity Armenian Church Hollywood Protestant- Presbyterian
Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church Downey Protestant- Evangelical
Pasadena Armenian Church of The Nazarene Pasadena Protestant
Sheen Chapel Mission Hill Unconsecrated- open to all denominations
St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church Los Angeles Apostolic
St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic Church of Pasadena Pasadena Apostolic
St. Gregory Armenian Catholic Church Glendale Catholic
St. James Armenian Apostolic Church Los Angeles Apostolic
St. John Garabed Armenian Cathedral Los Angeles Apostolic
St. Kevork Armenian Church Glendale Glendale Apostolic
St. Mary’s Armenian Apostolic Church Glendale Apostolic
St. Nareg Armenian Church Montebello Protestant- Evangelical
St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church Van Nuys Apostolic
St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church Los Angeles Apostolic
United Armenian Congregational Church Hollywood Protestant- Evangelical