Why Are Donors and Supporters Declining to Attend Events, Fundraisers Organized by Arch. Derderian’s Western Diocese?
Posted on January. 24. 2020
By Appo Jabarian
There are several indications that donors and supporters are increasingly declining to attend events, and to participate in fundraisers organized by Arch. Hovnan Derderian’s Western Diocese.
The reason: A widening investigation has revealed numerous wrongdoings, mismanagement, misappropriations, corruption and nepotism within the Armenian Church Western Diocese.
Several whistleblowers from within the Diocese have been stepping forward with facts and evidence on a litany of wrongdoings by primate Arch. Derderian and his clansmen.
The Case of St. Leon Cathedral at Western Diocese
Several Diocese insiders confide that the original budget for the construction of St. Leon Cathedral at Western Diocese was initially hovering around $12-$14 million. However, under mysterious circumstances the construction budget kept on creeping up and eventually reached around $25 million.
Now many members are asking why millions of dollars were misspent and why are they remaining unaccounted for?
The Case of St. John Garabed Armenian Church San Diego
In early 2016, there were widespread concerns over an ‘angel’ donor’s questionable loan to St. John Garabed Armenian Church San Diego that – for many, seemed to be designed to cloud the title on a lucrative 4-acre land parcel owned by the church that was reportedly valued over 10 million dollars in 2016.
Describing the relationship between the St. John Garabed Trust Committee and the Diocese/Primate, a concerned member claimed that “Members of the St. John Garabed Trust – who, under the Parish Assembly, oversee bequests to the Trust and the new property which is valued at more than 10 million dollars – met privately with the Primate in early 2014 and – out of step with the By-Laws process for the removal of a Parish Priest – requested that Rev. Datev Tatoulian be removed as the Parish Priest.”
He continued: “In February 2015, in the wake of the November 2014 Parish Assembly (which was illegitimately invalidated), the Diocesan Council dissolved all administrative bodies of the St. John Garabed Parish, with one exception. …. An audit of the Trust Committee’s books and activity was initiated at the request of the first ‘Mediation Committee’ appointed by His Eminence Arch Derderian (which consisted of the chair, His Eminence Arch. Vatche Hovsepian – former Primate of the Western Diocese), Joseph Kanimian (who months later was elected to and became the Chairman of the Diocesan Council), and Antranik Zorayan (then Chair of the Diocesan Council). This audit was, in part, spurred by public requests from parish members for greater transparency regarding the Trust Committee.”
The report continued: “Very soon after the audit was initiated by an independent third-party auditor, the audit was called off by the Diocesan Council and the first ‘Mediation Committee’ was disbanded. The funds of the Trust Committee have dwindled to almost nothing and individual members of the Trust have made loans to the Trust Fund to take care of pressing expenditures.”
The Case of Misuse of Funds By Arch. Derderian at The Armenian Church Diocese of Canada
In a March 30, 2019 article titled “Some Facts About Hovnan Derderian,” a leading member of Armenian Church Diocese of Canada, and a benefactor and a concerned Canadian Armenian Chris Chakmakian wrote in Armenian Church Reform Magazine: “Following the dark days of Artsakh’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 Artsakh and the orphans of Gyumri 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 Artsakh or Gyumri. 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.”
Mr. Chakmakian concluded: “Before her second departure in 2001, I communicated with him (Derderian), 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.”
The Case of St. John Garabed Armenian Church Hollywood
In the case of St. John Garabed Armenian Church Hollywood, Arch. Derderian and Pastor Markarian prematurely tore down the Vine Street church building without securing funds for the new construction. At the time, they didn’t even know the cost of the construction.
Before deciding to tear down the church building in Hollywood, a major benefactor of the Armenian Church Mr. Petros Taglyan has repeatedly advised Arch. Derderian and his main ally and advisor Pastor Markarian to periodically publish the name of the donors in Armenian newspapers so that new donors may step forward. Arch. Derderian and Pastor Markarian never published such donors’ list. At that stage more than $1.5 million were raised mostly through fundraisers sponsored by Mr. Taglyan.
Many donors have been holding back primarily because of lack of transparency and accountability. Donors are asking: “How come Pastor Markarian has been building two luxurious houses in Los Angeles claiming that he would like to ‘live like a king?’” They’re puzzled as to “How the funds for his two houses have been secured on a limited pastoral salary?” Pastor Markarian has reportedly boasted that his two brand-new ‘castles’ are the biggest and most opulent houses in their individual neighborhood.
Arch. Derderian’s wrongdoings are too many to list here. They are compiled in a 2019 report by ARMENIAN CHURCH REFORM titled “Twenty-Plus Reasons Why Hovnan Derderian’s Time Has Come to End.”
Read the report at the following link:
Leading members of Save The Western Diocese from Arch. Derderian and Armenian Church Reform underline: “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.”