Greetings from Armenia!

I am travelling round Armenia with a clergy study group, learning more about this country and, in particular, the Armenian Church. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its state religion in the year 301.

The photograph below is of Mount Ararat, which we have seen a number of times on our travels. It is the symbol of Armenian national identity, although with changed national boundaries it is today located just into the country of Turkey. Mount Ararat is the traditional site of the place where Noah’s ark finally came to rest (Genesis 8:1-17).

We have enjoyed attending a wonderful range of Armenian liturgies and meeting many groups of Christians on our travels, including the President of Germany. He was formerly a Lutheran pastor in East Germany and is currently visiting the President of Armenia.

When we visit Christian sites we, as clergy, are required to wear clerical clothes including our cassocks. Many Armenians, and also tourists from other countries, have been fascinated to see women priests. I have felt like a minor celebrity as I have been asked to pose for photos, selfies and also been requested blessings and conversations about the priesthood of women. The Armenian church currently does not recognise women priests.

My main impression, however, has been of a country that is very keen to celebrate its Christian heritage now that it is once more an independent state. Nevertheless there are now far more Armenians living outside the country, primarily in the USA and Russia, than in the country itself. Many of them continue to support their homeland, particularly financially. This is enabling the Church in Armenia to train priests and others with religious vocations for future years.

Please can I invite you to pray for all Christians in Armenia.

With every blessing

Mother Eileen

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