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Armenian church opens in SCV

Church officials say they hope to team with local charities, teach Armenian language to youth

Posted: December 18, 2009 10:19 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Parish Council Treasurer Harry Soghomonian, right, welcomes Father Nerses Hayrapetyan as he visits the new Armenian Apostolic Church of Santa Clarita in Newhall on Thursday.

After five years of planning and patience, the Santa Clarita Valley's growing Armenian population has a church of its own.

"It's really important for us to bring the 600 or so families together so they can have a social network," said Will Simonian, parish council chairman.

The new space in Newhall is a way to reach out.

"We are trying to close the gap and become part of the community now that we have our own church," Simonian said.

St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church will host a special service and ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

The church will be led by Father Nerses Hayrapetyan, who called the new church "a blessing for the community."

Efforts for a church began in 2004 when a group of about five local residents took the initiative to establish a church.

"We felt that the Armenian community should have more of a presence in the Santa Clarita Valley," said Harry Soghomonian, parish council treasurer.

The first services were held at Valencia High School five years ago.

After finding temporary locations throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, St. Sarkis Armenian Apostolic Church has found a permanent home in a 5,000-square-foot space on Kansas Street.

The church counts about 70 people as members so far, Soghomonian said.

As the church becomes more established, Simonian hopes to be able to team up with local leaders to provide charity services for the Santa Clarita Valley.

"We can be a positive strength and contribution to the community," he said.

At the same time, Simonian wants the church to be a place where children can learn the Armenian culture and language since the Santa Clarita Valley does not have an Armenian school.

The church has already established a weekend school, a youth organization and a club for married couples to mingle, he said.

More than 30 kids have taken the Saturday classes, Soghomonian said.

"We're just trying to do a lot of activities," he said. "It's not just a church where people come for service."

As the church grows, leaders hope to host a large celebration in the new year.

"This is something very symbolic and very small just to open the doors," Soghomonian said.


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