Vazgen Zohrabyan was only 10 when he joined the Armenian Evangelical Church in 1991. This was a unusual decision: in the rough-and-tumble 1990s his family, like most Armenians, embraced their millennia-old Apostolic Church after decades of Soviet rule. Zohrabyan appreciated the faith’s principles - and has never looked back.
The Armenian Evangelical Church is rooted in the intellectual and spiritual awakening that shook then-Costantinopoli in the early 1800s - when reformists inside the Armenian Apostolic Church were excommunicated, they organized themselves in a separate community and founded the church in 1846, which grew into a faith where prominent intellectuals joined.
Zohrabyan, now 37, is proud of those roots and he recalls them when talking to people as pastor of the Armenian Evangelical community in Abovyan, a city in central Armenia. Evangelicals make up roughly 1 percent of the population and its followers are still treated with suspicion, Abovyan residents respect Zohrabyan’s engagement in the community, specifically in helping the elderly. The church manages a nursing home for old people unable to support themselves - but it is not an easy task.