St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert – Past and Present
The first Divine Liturgy in Palm Desert was celebrated by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian in 1976 at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. In 1977 a meting was held to begin the organization of a parish, during which time an interim Parish Council was appointed led by Vagharsh Bedoian. Church services continued at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church from 1977 to 2004, with priests and deacons provided by the Diocese. A choir directed by Anna Bedoian sang the Liturgy accompanied by organist Velo Herbekian.
In 1978 the Ladies Society was organized under the leadership of Anna Bedoian, and during a meeting in 1979 the Primate appointed an official Parish Council with Vagharsh Bedoian serving as the first chairman. In September 1980 Archbishop Hovsepian presided over the first Parish Assembly, and in November the Armenian Apostolic Church was formally established.
From 1981 to 2004 Church services have been held six times a year. Parishioners have been instrumental in gathering the necessary funds for the continuity of the parish. In 1999 a land of 4.6 acres was purchased in Rancho Mirage and a Building Committee was formed to begin construction of a Church. The following year the consecration ceremony was held presided by Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian. Ground was broken in 2003 and construction began.
On December 19, 2004 Rev. Fr. Mikayel Kyuregyan celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the newly constructed Kirkjan Family Hall.
On January 29, 2005 His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, presided over the Dedication of the Hall. As part of the Dedication celebrations the Primate celebrated Divine Liturgy on January 30.
From 2005 to 2009 the parish was receiving visiting clergies who were performing the Divine Liturgy twice a month at Kirkjan Family Hall. On October 13, 2009, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church became the scene of the Ordination of the first Armenian Priest of Coachella Valley performed by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate and from that moment on the Parish received its permanent spiritual leader, Rev. Fr. Krikor Zakaryan. This event opened a new page in the history of the community, as it transformed to a spiritual formation as well.
In August, 2009 the building efforts of the new sanctuary started, which was built for an year. The construction of the new Sourp Garabed Church was made possible through the very generous support of Mr. Edward Halvajian and parishioners. The new Sanctuary had been Dedicated on October 9, 2010 by the Primate, the Parish Priest and guest clergies.
Saint Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert was consecrated on January 7, 2012 by the Primate, His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Archbishop Vatche Hovsepian and Reverend Father Krikor Zakaryan. Among the respective guests were the family members of the late Grand Benefactor Edward Halvajian, as well as Godfathers, Members of Parish Councils, Building Committees, Parish Organizations, City Officials and community members.