Rev. Dr. Peter B. Doghramji, age 93, of Havertown, PA passed away peacefully on June 14, 2023, surrounded by his family.
Born in 1929 in Aleppo, Syria he was the son of the late Pitris & Rosa (née Shekerji) Doghramji.
After his father’s tragic death, Peter was raised by his grandparents in the Armenian Evangelical community of Aleppo. He completed his basic education in the region of his birthplace, and his higher education and theological training at the American University of Beirut and the Near East School of Theology.
It was at the Near East School of Theology, where Peter met his future wife, Mary Bedikian, an elementary school teacher who wanted to pursue her career in Christian Education. They were married in 1953 and headed to Rev. Doghramji’s first parish in Hassakeh, Syria, where their first son, Karl, was born in 1954. Rev.. Doghramji preached in Arabic to a congregation of mostly Arabic, but also Armenian, Aramaic, Kurdish, and Russian-speaking people. He also was principal of the elementary school and taught English at the public high school. He was ordained in 1955 by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
The following year, Peter joined the faculty of Aleppo College as a teacher of religion and philosophy. Paul, their second son, was born in 1957. In 1959, he was elected as the first national President of Aleppo College. He was given a year’s leave for graduate study at Harvard University Divinity School, where he studied under such luminaries as Paul Tillich. He received a Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree in 1961.
From 1961 to 1966, he served Aleppo College as President and professor of religion. He was also the interim pastor of the National (Arab) Evangelical Church in Aleppo. Their third son, Jimmy, was born there in 1963. He resigned his position in 1966 to continue his doctoral studies in a joint program between Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1970, he was awarded a Ph.D., degree, magna cum laude, from Princeton Theological Seminary (U.S.), on his dissertation on “Christian Ethics in the Muslim Context.”
During his last year at Princeton, Rev. Doghramji served the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church (AMCC) in Havertown, PA, as part-time interim pastor. He declined the invitation of the church to be their permanent pastor due to his commitment to teach at NEST as professor of theology. But after two semesters of teaching there in Beirut in 1969-70, he and his family moved to Havertown, where he resumed the ministry of the church on a full-time basis.
After serving the church for nine years he resigned in 1979 to join the staff of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ as an assistant to the conference minister. In 1985, he became the President and Minister of the Conference. Having served a full term of six years, he retired in 1991. During his tenure in Collegeville, PA, he received the Doctor of Divinity (D.D.) degree from Ursinus College in 1986.
His retirement was interrupted several times: first, in 1993 as interim pastor of Immanuel Armenian Congregational Church of Downey, CA; next as interim (1993-94) and then senior pastor (1994-96) of the United Armenian Congregational Church in Hollywood, CA; twice as interim pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of New York (2000-03 and 2006-12); and as Executive Director, Armenian Missionary Association of America in 2004.
Rev. Dr. Doghramji was a Trustee and Adjunct Professor of Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He served the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America as the first Executive Secretary (1979-84), Moderator (1984-86), and Chairman of the Theological Commission (from 1996). He has been widely known as a theologian, Biblical scholar, preacher and teacher. He is the author of the book on the Apostles’ Creed, Exploring Our Faith (published jointly by the AMAA and the AMCC), as well as the 2004 collection of reflections, In Other Words, (published by the Armenian Evangelical Church of NY and AMAA), both of which are available through the AMAA office.
Rev. Dr. Doghramji was fluent in five languages, and preached in all of them. He also authored three books and many articles. Often, he was invited to lecture on various historical, theological and inter-religious themes. Throughout his life’s work he remained a teacher at heart, and served as he was able until recent months.
Peter was the beloved husband for 70 years of the late Mary Doghramji (née Bedikian); the loving father of. Karl Doghramji, MD (Laurel), Paul Doghramji, MD (Kathleen), and James Doghramji, MD (Rose); the proud grandfather of Paul Jr, Mark, Kristen, Alex, Matthew, Leah, and Harold (Nicky), and the great-grandfather of Jasper and Finnick.
Relatives and friends are invited to his Viewing, Saturday, June 24, 2023, 9:30 to 11:00 AM, at the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church, 100 Edmonds Avenue, Havertown, PA 19083, followed by his 11:00 AM Funeral Service. Interment private.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Peter’s memory would be appreciated to the Armenian Missionary Association of America, 31 W. Century Road, Paramus, NJ 07652, https://amaa.org/donate/, or to the Armenian Martyrs’ Congregational Church, 100 N Edmonds Avenue, Havertown, PA 19083, https://www.amccpa.org/give/