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"The congregation of the United Armenian Brethren Evangelical Church, now Watertown Evangelical Church, sacrificially donated funds to make the church building a reality. Through the teaching and preaching of God's Word through leaders like Rev. Bilezikian, Rev. Socrate and subsequent pastors and teachers, the church not only grew numerically, but also matured spiritually.
We give all honor, glory and thanksgiving to our great God and Savior for giving life to His church here in Watertown and around the world."
Rev. Calvin W. Choi, Ph.D.
Rev. Fredrick Franson, missionary of the Gospel, arrives in Marash, Turkey on a speaking tour. Sitting in the audience is twenty-five year old Armenian, Vartan Bilezikian, who receives Jesus Christ as his Savior as a result of Franson's preaching. Unknown to either Franson or Bilezikian, the seed of a future church is planted.
Vartan is arrested for preaching the good news of the kingdom of God to surrounding villages and charged with subversion to the government. Following a nine-month stay in jail, Vartan is released when authorities are persuaded that his focus is on a spiritual kingdom rather than an earthly one.
Realizing he now lacks the freedom to preach the Gospel, thirty-one year old Vartan travels to America where he settles in Boston, Massachusetts. He begins a tailoring business and marries.
Less than ten years after his arrival in the United States, Vartan begins preaching in peoples' homes on Sundays while continuing to support himself and his wife as a tailor during the week. Vartan shares preaching responsibilities with Socrate Amiralian, his old friend from Marash. Together they conduct worship services in three languages - Armenian, Turkish, and English - to accommodate different backgrounds. Out of this network of home groups, a church is born.
Having outgrown the physical dimensions of a home, the church moves to Boston and shares a facility with the Union Rescue Mission (also known as the Dover Street Mission), a Christian outreach organization for the homeless.
In response to the outflow of Bostonians to the surrounding suburbs, the church gains the vision to relocate. Yeprous Bilezikian, Vartan's sister-in-law, sells her jewelry to start a building fund and encourages other women to do the same. Although the average salary at the time is a mere $12 per week, other members generously donate to the fund. In 1938, the church's foundation is laid in Watertown, Massachusetts. As a community, the church raised a grand total of $15,000 to make the church building a reality. Eventually the church would come to be known as Watertown Evangelical Church.
1950 to 2011
The goal of WEC has always been to preach the gospel. Following Vartan's retirement in the early 1950's, other pastors have continued to evangelize as well as to lead the WEC congregation in its knowledge and service to God. In the 1950's Reverends Stuart Lease and Bruce Strickland faithfully preached and taught God's Word as did Reverends Richard Wrentzel and Proctor Davis in the 1960's and 1970's. Reverends Ken Umenhofer and Bruce Daggett led the church in the 1980's and 1990's.
In 2012, Rev. Calvin Choi began preaching and teaching at WEC and has faithfully led the congregation ever since.
From a seed sown in 1905, a church was born and today continues to grow and mature. May all the praise and glory be to God, now and forevermore!
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