Newly built Armenian church opens doors in Carmel Valley

St. Sarkis Armenian Church on El Camino Real in Carmel Valley
(Linda McIntosh / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

St. Sarkis Armenian Church is opening its doors in Carmel Valley; consecration ceremony held last weekend


After years of planning, the St. Sarkis Armenian Church has opened its doors in Carmel Valley, about 2 miles southeast of the Del Mar Fairgrounds across Interstate 5. It is near the Harvest Evangelical Church of San Diego on El Camino Real.

The newly built 8,500-square-foot sanctuary was designed to resemble the seventh-century Armenian Apostolic church, St. Hripsime in Etchmiadzin, in Vagharshapat, Armenia. The sanctuary has four 28-foot stained glass windows on its north and south sides portraying stories from the Bible and early Armenian religious history. Its steeple is over 90 feet high to the top of the cross.

Since 2008, the St. Sarkis congregation, formerly known as St. John Garabed, started to make plans to move from its overcrowded building in North Park and settle in North County where a large number of its members live. The church serves roughly 1,200 families in San Diego County. A groundbreaking for the $7 million church project was held in spring 2019 after being granted city and state permits.

“It’s taken the community 15 years of hard work and perseverance to make this dream a reality. The church is not just for Armenians — it is for all of San Diego and beyond,” said Nora J. Balikian, co-chair of the the church’s Consecration Committee.

The church’s 18-acre campus is slated to include a social hall, youth center and gymnasium, and education and cultural building with classrooms and library. These buildings and the sanctuary are slated to occupy about a third of the site with the rest left as a protected preserve. An Armenian Heritage Park is planned on the campus, including a memorial for the Armenian genocide and open meditation spaces. The church is raising money for the remaining construction.

“Besides weekly services, we plan on having Armenian language and heritage school for the youth, concerts and festivals and much much more,” said Lisa Kradjian co-chair of the church’s Consecration Committee.

Several consecration celebrations, including an opening ceremony and First Badarak (Divine Liturgy) were held Jan. 28-30 at the church led by His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate of the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church of North America, and the Very Rev. Fr. Pakrad Dz. V. Berjekian, Parish Priest. (See photos from one of these events in this website’s photo galleries section and at link below):

The church is open to the public for Sunday services, which are from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Call the church office at (619) 284-7179. Visit