Anglicans in Yerevan

I accidentally said the filioque. It’s an Anglican service, but out of respect for the generosity of using the Armenian Apostolic church of Zoravor, no one says it.

We are in Zoravor Astvatsatsin Church downtown Yerevan, rebuilt in 1693 after an earthquake. Armenian worshippers continuously light candles in the narthex while the 20-odd Anglican worshippers sing “Be Thou My Vision.”

The massive stone columns and walls of the Roman basilica are like a cramped version of a medieval hall, with a couple rows of pews, and a large Persian carpet in front of the altar.

Father John Barker delivers an evangelical and theologically orthodox sermon. He is employed by the Diocese in Europe, and is the first Anglican priest in Yerevan in 10 years. Previously, Anglicans had a priest at the Etchmiadzin seminary, but no one was found to fill the academic role.

I’m not sure whether to walk backwards out of the church slowly, as all the Armenians around me are doing. Apparently the Anglican liturgy is almost identical the Armenian Apostolic. When I look up early church architecture on Wikipedia, the first example is a 4th century Armenian basilica. (The Romanesque arches are complimented by some interesting honeycomb details, reminiscent of Islamic corbels or muqarnas. I noticed in the older 7th century Etchmiadzin cathedral that some of these honeycomb patterns were definitely pre-Islamic.)

At the 6pm service there are a handful of Americans, Indians, and British. We are the only family with children there, and all Alasdair wants to do is walk up and down the tiny spiral metal staircase to the choir loft. After the service, we drink tea and eat cake behind St. Ananias’ chapel. We’ve already been invited to a reading group – not necessarily for lent, and not necessarily devotional material.

We’ve only been here once, but I  think we’ll be sad to leave this new church when we go to Georgia next year.

Basilica with smaller chapel for the Ananias reliquary to the left.
Basilica with smaller chapel for the Ananias reliquary to the left.

zoravor4

The narthex - usually full of burning candles.
The narthex – usually full of burning candles.

church painting

Zoravar_5

church painting 2

zoravor 2

St__Ananias'_Chapel_at_Zoravor_Church
St. Ananias’ Chapel.

640px-Zoravar_Doors_Chamber

Ananias'_tomb_in_Armenia
St. Ananias’ tombstone. The door to the chapel is kept open 24hrs.
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