Church History

In the late 1910s there were only a few Armenians living in San Francisco.

Through the efforts of the late Mihran Serailian arrangements were made for Bishop Papken Guleserian to celebrate Divine Liturgy at Grace Cathedral. In time this was followed by a visit from the Primate of America, Bishop Dirayr Der Hovhannessian and Very Rev. Fr. Vartan Dz. V. Kasparian of Holy Trinity Church of Fresno.

In 1924 a Parish Council was appointed to lead St. Nersess Shnorhali Parish, as it was known until a name change later to St. John. Sunday services in the 1920's were held in the Trinity Greek Church on 7th Street, as well as in two Episcopal Churches. Having no permanent priest, spiritual needs were met by Fr. Guldalian of Yettem and Fr. Kasparian of Fresno.

Following the term of Fr. Krouzian, Rev. Fr. Bedros Hagopian served at St. John, succeeded by Rev. Zgon Dz. V. Hagopian. In 1941 a Lutheran Church was purchased; Fr. Parounak, Pastor of the time, designed a new altar.

On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day, the altar was consecrated and a month later, on Armenian Christmas, the sanctuary was consecrated and given the name St. John Armenian Church.

The site remained the spiritual home of the Armenian community of San Francisco until the property was taken by the State of California for the construction of freeways. Until the consecration of the current sanctuary on Olympia Way in 1958, church services were held at All Saints Episcopal Church.

It was under the leadership of Archpriest Fr. Artoon Sempadian that the new facilities were designed, built and funded. It was through his dedication and that of Yeretzgin Betty that the community united to create a strong base for future growth. He was succeeded by Fr. Arten Ashjian, Archpriest Fr. Sipan Mekhsian, Archpriest Fr. Moushegh Tashjian, and Bishop Aris Shirvanian.

In 1998 Rev. Fr. Sarkis and Yeretzgin Talin Petoyan joined the St. John family and in 2009 Fr. Diran and Yeretzgeen Anush Avagyan along with little Haiko joined the St. John family.

In 2012 Rev. Fr. Mesrop and Yeretzgeen Annie Ash was appointed as parish priest and works to continue building upon the foundations already created by the community and serve the Armenian community in the San Francisco area. His ordination to the Holy Order of Priesthood on April 29, 2012 in the sanctuary of St. John was the first ordination to take place in the history of the parish.

We at St. John are gratful to all of those who have led us, supported us and helped us as a community and as individuals in countless ways.