The First Official Church Board
A BRIEF HISTORY ...
The seed of our story goes back farther than 100 years. It can be traced all the way back to the early Christian dedication of one — Mr. Garabed Pushman.
Pushman began a small gathering of Armenian Christians for worship in the old Chicago Commons as early as 1901. He led and organized this community in their common life together. They prayed, read the Scriptures and shared God’s stories of deliverance and grace. Pushman was a business man — a skilled carpet maker — he used his wise, business acumen to gather funds for the support of the orphans and widows of the community.
Pushman was also crucial in supporting the formation of the Armenian Missionary Association of America — an organization for which he served as president from the years 1924-1936.
As this community met with increasing regularity, they felt moved to sprout into a full-fledged church family. So God gathered this Chicago Commons fellowship together in 1916, and they became the Armenian Evangelical Church of Chicago with 44 communicant members.
Since 1916, the church has weathered the storms of time — experiencing God’s faithfulness and generosity all along the way. During the Depression, God sent Rev. Avedis Darakjian to shepherd the delicate Chicago church community. They found hope and inspiration in God’s promise as they walked through these dark times with Rev. Darakjian. Early on in the life of the church, AEC founded The West Pullman Mission in South Chicago. This was a place of worship and a haven for those in great need. For forty years, the West Pullman Mission stood out as a beacon of light and hope. A Rev. Hagop Gurlekian is among the many pastors who served this community.
When the church community needed a house of worship, God sent a generous Armenian philanthropist Mr. John Bezazian who, alongside Judge Nazareth Barsoumian, purchased a beautiful lake front property on Sheridan Rd. for the congregation. [Designed by a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright].
When immigrant Armenians fled danger abroad and sought refuge here in Illinois, faithful pastoral leadership took note of their needs. They led the church in the work of the Gospel that serves the foreigner in our midst! Revs. Harry Missirlian, Puzant Levonian, Hovhaness Apkarian, Garabed Tilkian and Barkev Darakjian all stand out as faithful servant-leaders who took on the great cause of those disoriented and uprooted from their homeland.
Today, AEC celebrates the gifts of God’s grace in a brand new church building, built from scratch in Mt. Prospect Illinois. Construction was completed in 2006 after years of migrating from one church building to the next. We hopped from the Sheridan property, to a church building on Devon, then to the AGBU building on Harlem — finally landing in Mt. Prospect. Pastor Sam Agulian led the church during this season of transition and change. Currently, the congregation is being led by Rev. Jeremy Tovmassian and is discovering under his leadership where God is calling them to in the coming chapters of their life together..
The stories could continue!
Stories of God’s abundant provisions and grace — stories of God’s faithfulness lavished upon us here in Chicago! And each story would have examples of devoted followers of Jesus, living into the calling of God.
God is good indeed and we look forward to many more years of faithful Christian ministry in Chicago.