PHILADELPHIA, PA – Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director Dr. Rouben Adalian was the featured guest speaker at the Armenian Inter-Communal Committee of Philadelphia’s Genocide Commemoration on April 24th where he presented on “The Decisive Role of the YMCA and American Relief in Armenia a Century Ago.” Based on John Elder’s photographs and testimony, as well as additional material from other archives, the exhibit pays tribute to the extraordinary efforts of two YMCA volunteers who went to Armenia during the first years of the newly-formed republic, John Elder and James O. Arroll, and whose philanthropic accomplishments were widely recognized at the time. Executive Director of Greater Philadelphia YMCA Dave Mullin, Director of Information Technology of Greater Philadelphia YMCA Jean Scutt, and retired Director General of the Jerusalem International YMCA Leonard Wilson with his wife Joyce attended the presentation. “Thank you for the great honor paid to the YMCA workers during the horrific events a century ago in your homeland,” retired Director General of the Jerusalem International YMCA Len Wilson stated. “I felt privileged to be in attendance during the very moving church service in your beautiful sanctuary, and to be in attendance for an excellent lecture by Dr. Adalian. I appreciated the opportunity to increase the awareness of your attendees to the role of John R. Mott and the Christian mission work he inspired via John Elder and James Arroll.”
Wilson added: “I was most impressed by the scholarly work accomplished by Dr. Adalian. I only wish more research was accomplished on the hundreds of World Service workers inspired by John R. Mott. Dr. Mott’s career and accomplishments need to be illuminated for persons outside the YMCA organization to appreciate the goals of our organization that is not a church or a religion, but acts to achieve cooperation and reconciliation embodying the true spirit of our Lord among persons of all faiths.”
John R. Mott, who is also featured in the exhibit, was the longtime General Secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA in the early 20th century and an early advocate for U.S. humanitarian relief for Armenians, who inspired Elder and Arroll to take on the challenge of going to Armenia.
The community-wide gathering was organized by Steven Keytanjian and fellow leaders of the Armenian Inter-Communal Committee of Philadelphia, which consists of representatives from the five area churches, their clergy, and the Armenian Sisters Academy. The presentation took place at St. Sahag & St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church in Wynnewood, PA, and Andrew Kzirian served as Master of Ceremonies.
The ANI exhibit titled “The First Deportation: The German Railway, the American Hospital, and the Armenian Genocide” was dedicated to Steven Keytanjian’s grandfather, Dr. Charles Mahjoubian. The First Deportation exhibit concludes with testimony from Dr. Mahjoubian, a native of Konya who resettled in Philadelphia. As a survivor, he committed himself to testifying to the events he witnessed in his hometown.
“Thank you to the entire Armenian American community in Philadelphia for welcoming the Armenian National Institute’s exhibit on the YMCA, and participating in the shared history of Armenia and the United states that dates back over a century,” ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian stated. “It was especially encouraging and a true honor to have in attendance representatives of the YMCA, and be able to thank on this day of remembrance the deeply committed and selfless YMCA volunteers who put themselves in harm’s way and helped so many survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” he added.