St. Paul Armenian Apostolic Church
|ADDRESS:||3767 North First St. Fresno CA 93726|
A consultative meeting was held on June 1, 1939, to plan for the establishment of a new parish in Fresno under the jurisdiction of the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. A formal appeal was made to the California Diocese on March 31, 1940 for approval of a new parish to be named St. Paul.
In the interim, having no edifice of its own, the new St. Paul parish used the St. James Episcopal Cathedral. The first service was held there on February 28, 1943.
In July 1943 the St. Paul Parish purchased the First Armenian Presbyterian Church. A few years later, however, on January 24, 1954 a new edifice was consecrated. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Very Rev. Shnork Dz. V. Kaloustian, Primate. St. Paul served as the Cathedral of the Diocese until it was transferred to Los Angeles in 1957. Soon the land on First Street was acquired and construction began. The first Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Shahe Altounian on March 13, 1977. Upon its completion the sanctuary was consecrated on April 22, 1979 by Primate Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian and the late Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan.
During the period until 1947 the newly formed St. Paul was being served by a number of clergymen. In a special parish assembly held on august 3, 1947 the Rt. Rev. Nerses Odian was called to serve as a permanent pastor.
The following pastors have served St. Paul Armenian Church: Rev. Fr. Nerses Odian (1947-1957), Rev. Fr. Vahrich Shirinian (1956-1957), Rev. Fr. Vartan Dulgarian (1957-1968), Rev. Fr. Shahe Altounian (1968-1991), Very Rev. Sasoon Dz. V. Zumrookhdian (1990-1999), Rev. Fr. Arshen Aivazian (2000-2014) and Rev. Fr. Yessai Bedros (August 2014-present).
The region of Central California has played an instrumental role in the life of the Western Diocese, being the nucleus of the growing Armenian community in California since the late 19th century. The San Joaquin Valley houses some of the oldest churches of the Western Diocese, including the Fowler and Yettem Parishes.