Posted on March. 30. 2019

BY Chris Chakmakian


Source: Volume II, April 2019
Armenian church reform Magazine

Following the dark days of Artakh’s liberation, I decided to do something constructive and positive.
In 1998, I decided to set up a foundation to help the orphans and widows of the fallen warriors of Artzakh and the orphans of Gumreh earthquake.
I approached Hovnan Derderian, the then Primate of Canadian Diocese, to set up a foundation through the Diocese.
He was not keen about my proposal and somewhat skeptical. He wanted me to help only the Diocese.
We proceeded upon my foundation, deposited $50,000 initially, another $25,000 the following year and undertook future annual contributions.
The last $25,000 contribution was allocated to Diocesan Endowment Fund, instead of our foundation, without our express consent and instruction.
A guideline of principles and objectives was set up for the administration of funds.
Within a short time he proposed to print a book of parables and promised to repay the fund upon its publication and sale.
The cost for the said publication was $13,800 and was never repaid.
In 1999 $13,550 was transferred to Armenia to help these children.
When we verified the list, none of them were from Artzakh or Gumreh.
We eventually revealed that they were the children and families of his puppet priests and minions in Armenia. Some of them quite well to do, I might add.
My wife went to Armenia on 2 occasions in 1999 and 2001, to find those needy families and distribute the funds.
Before her second departure in 2001, I communicated with him, on more than one occasion, by phone, by letter, by fax that $12,000 US be made available to her on her arrival.
Despite his many assurances and promises that the funds will be ready for her. In Armenia, he consistently stone walled her and stalled the fund transfer, with superficial excuses.
It was quite apparent that he had his own agenda and had no sympathy or interest in those poor suffering children.
After several repeated misallocations and misuse of funds, we finally concluded to terminate the foundation and requested to transfer the balance of the funds to Hayastan Foundation of Canada.
After a great deal of hassle and obstruction he finally complied with our request.
Following his move to Southern California we were fortunate enough to elect friar Bagrat Galstanian, as our new Primate.
He was a clergy of impeccable integrity, honesty, piety, love and compassion.
He was a truly humble servant of the Armenian Church, totally committed to his congregation and its mission. He was a true Christian and practiced what he preached.
In a very short time he won the love, respect and admiration of all.
He bought a life insurance policy designating the Diocese as his beneficiary.
When the Diocese was in financial difficulty he even offered the Diocesan Council to cut his measly salary of $30,000 a year. In Canada the poverty line is pegged at $27,800.
Yet, Hovnan Derderian did everything in his realm of possibilities and power to see that his successor failed.
He plotted, schemed and conspired, through his intermediaries, to have him removed and after 10 years succeeded, going as far as falsifying the delegate vote on election night.
The entire community was split and many young and faithful left the church.
The Primate was deeply wounded and hurt yet, he expressed no resentment, bore no malice, carried no animus.
His only departing words were “I was betrayed by my spiritual brethren”.

Armenian church reform Comment:

Wonder why people don’t attend Church?
Well it is the trickledown effect! Increasing numbers of the Armenian American community have pulled back from making donations to their local church because of the clandestine activities of the Western Diocese under the leadership of Hovnan Derderian.
Although they may attend church they do not debate their disgust towards Hovnan Derderian’s covert activities instead they show it with their pocket.
They come to church to light a candle and listen to the ancient beautiful liturgy. Sometimes they stay for some fellowship. Droves of others who are onto his misdeeds have quietly turned away in frustration from the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Western Diocese and no longer want to be associated with the likes of Derderian’s Diocese.

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