Ararat Armenian Congregational Church in Salem celebrates 100 years, welcomes pastor
SALEM — The Ararat Armenian Congregational Church, 2 Salem St., celebrated its 100th anniversary Nov. 3 and welcomed a new pastor and his family to the community.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, several Armenian families purchased farms in Salem. Traveling the long distance to attend church in Lawrence, Mass., was a hardship, so in October, 1912, a meeting of all Armenians in the area took place, and a building committee was formed.
The Northeastern Street Railway Company granted a parcel of land on Salem Street and the NH Conference of the United Church of Christ provided financial assistance. Construction was completed in July, 1913 and the church was dedicated on Nov. 12, 1913.
Many of the Church’s present members are descendants of the original 19 founders; some of them still maintain family farms in Salem.
Much has changed during the past 100 years. Farmland was replaced by shopping malls; the Lawrence church merged with the Salem church; and eventually services were conducted in English instead of Armenian.
But the vibrancy and strength of the congregation’s faith continues. The church boasts an active youth group. Some of its members are sixth generation Americans, who proudly honor their Armenian faith and heritage.
The church welcomed Pastor Sam Katchikian. Sam, his wife, Jen, and their newborn daughter relocated to Salem from Canada.
Present for Pastor Sam’s first sermon were representations of the NH Conference of the United Church of Christ, the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, and the Armenian Missionary Association of America.
Following the church service, a celebration banquet was held at the nearby Tuscan Kitchen restaurant.
Throughout the afternoon, guests enjoyed a slideshow of more than 500 photos from events in the life of the church, which played on the restaurant’s many screens. The presentation was prepared by Salem High School student Jack Brunelle, who collected photos from church members.
Gov. Maggie Hassan issued a commendation, recognizing the Ararat Church for its faithful service and dedication to its community and state.