APU’s Armenian Student Association Unveils Memorial

by Evan R. Cain

Azusa Pacific University's Armenian Student Association (ASA) unveiled a khachkar, or cross stone memorial, during a dedication ceremony on April 22, attended by students, their families, and community members to commemorate the lives lost in the Armenian Genocide. During and following World War I, 1.5 million Armenians living within the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey lost their lives. Paying tribute and honoring their memory, the khachkar stands on East Campus in front of Multimedia Buildings 1 and 2. April 24 marked the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

The unveiling included speeches by APU President Jon R. Wallace, DBA, Joseph D. Matossian '63, minister of the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America, and Bruce Baloian, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Biblical Studies. The event also featured student vocal performances and prayer.

“Six months ago, the ASA contacted me about the possibility of installing a cross stone memorial,” said Wallace. “Students Hovsep Chaparian and Elijah Hakobian’s request captured my heart. The memorial honors the remarkable story of a people of faith. When students read the plaque, we hope they will reflect on Armenians’ story of perseverance in the face of persecution. We are a community of Christ followers that believe in proclaiming the love of Christ, and this story profoundly represents this conviction.”

Following Wallace, Matossian expressed the deep meaning and purpose behind introducing the khachkar memorial to APU’s campus. “Our people endured incredible hardship," he said. "We remember their pain and suffering, while admiring their courage, strength, and determination to be faithful to God. This cross stone is not just a commemoration in remembrance, but also a trumpet call for justice in all of God’s nations.” Speaking with passion and conviction, his words were met with applause from the crowd. He continued, “As Christians, we are in constant pursuit of truth and justice, and are committed to fight against all evils. Therefore, we seek to make this world a place for people of all colors, all cultures, and all creeds to live in peace. We pray that we may one day live in a world of harmony.”

Hasmik Mkrtchyan, ASA vice president, gave her testimony, exemplifying the legacy of the Armenian people. “My great grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Their stories were told to me by my grandparents. As descendants of survivors and victims, it is instilled in us to tell our story and keep its memory alive.”

Baloian described the connection between Armenian heritage and APU. “The Armenians are people of incredible strength,” he said.“Ultimately, Armenians are strong because they love Jesus Christ. It is precisely that love that is at the heart of Christian identity. To have this cross stone on APU’s campus is a way for APU to further affirm its identity in Christ and commitment to the faith.”

The crowd erupted in cheers, as members of the ASA unveiled the cross stone memorial. Hakobian, ASA president, spoke about the symbolism of the khachkar. “The cross is made from hand-carved Armenian lava rock. The bottom of the cross signifies the Armenian ancestors that perished in the genocide. At the head of the cross, there is an Armenian eternity symbol, representing an unending era of new growth and life for our people.”

Matossian's word captured the poignancy of the event. “The khachkar has tremendous meaning for our nation: the cross represents God’s love, sacrifice, and hope for eternity. Armenians have embraced Christianity since 301 A.D., and our Christian heritage survives today. We hope to testify that no evils, no oppression, can separate God’s people from His redemption, grace, and love. We are honored to have our story told on this campus. This dedication is a miracle, and there is no doubt, APU is a place of God.”

  • Evan R. Cain '18 is a senior public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. He is a biblical studies and humanities major in the Honors College.

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