St. Garabed Church of the Desert Hosts 15th Annual Cultural Festival

Gevorkian Dance Academy performers dancing at the St. Garabed Church's 15th annual Armenian Cultural Festival held on Nov. 11 and 12


One of the most treasured gems of the Western Diocese is the St. Garabed Armenian Apostolic Church of the Desert in Rancho Mirage, California. People travel from all directions to the Coachella Valley, and when they see our glistering church against the background of the desert, they see the jewel that so many of us have marveled at all these years.

St. Garabed Church tells the story of our people — of suffering, of conquest, and ultimately resurrection. It is the story of our Armenian people and the Christian faith we profess. This jewel of the desert has been entrusted to us, not only for safekeeping but for our enjoyment and the enjoyment of all those who enter its doors. It is a great responsibility that we have taken on with pride and joy.

Since I was appointed pastor of the parish by Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, we hold services for community members every Sunday and have opened Armenian and Sunday Schools, which are attended by 20 students. When our children come to this church, they know that they are connected to something greater than themselves. They are connected to their past, present, and future.

A scene from St. Garabed Church of the Desert’s 15th annual Armenian Cultural Festival

Today, more than ever, we must reaffirm our identity and purpose. As bearers of Armenian values in Rancho Mirage, we must make a positive impact through every available means — preserving and strengthening our Christian faith, our ethnic identity and heritage, our unique culture and language, our caring community, and our cherished traditions.

It is an annual tradition in our parish to organize the Armenian Cultural Festival. Our 15th Annual Festival, which was held on November 11 and 12, saw more than 2,000 attendees enjoy Armenian food, music, dance, and culture. Guests from various surrounding towns and neighborhoods visited our church.

Tents were set up for attendees to sit with one another and enjoy our deliciously cooked meals and baked goods. The festival was also a great time for the youth.

Gevorkian Dance Academy performers dancing at the festival hosted by St. Garabed Church

During the festival, we had the pleasure of hosting the Gevorkian Dance Academy, on both days, which truly became one of the highlights of the weekend. There were also musical performances by Tavit Samuelian, Aram Lepejian, and DJ Greg.

The church was also open for guests to walk in and tour, sit in the pews, and light candles. In all, we prayed, danced, laughed, sang, and enjoyed this wonderful community gathering. We will continue hosting this great tradition each November, and we look forward to seeing the community come together again.

I would like to thank our wonderful parish council members and all of the volunteers for their hard work and support in making this and event to truly remember.

St, Garabed Church will celebrate the 12th anniversary of its consecration on Sunday, January 14, 2024. The event will be attended by Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, parishioners, and community members.

Gevork Gevorkian is a deacon and the pastor of St. Garabed Armenian Church of the Desert in Rancho Mirage, California.