A big joy for us in Armenia has been the time we have spent with Father Nshan, a priest/monk/dean/scholar in the Armenian Church. He serves as the dean of a high school for young men who intend to go on to seminary for training as priests in the church. We first met Father Nishan when we were visiting Echmiadzin, the Holy See of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Not long into the conversation we found out that Father Nshan lived and studied in St. Paul, MN not far from where we went to school at Luther Seminary.
Father Nshan invited us to stay for some days in the village where he leads the high school and this was a very special experience. The high school is located on the grounds of a historic monastery called Harichavank in northwestern Armenia near the Turkish border. In our visit Father Nishan gave us a rich introduction to the liturgy and theology of the Armenian church and answered our barrage of questions about church architecture. We also shared meals with the young men of the high school and sat in on their classes. Another highlight of our time was twice daily worship in the main church. The students are being trained in all the various aspects of conducting worship in the church and it was especially moving to hear them sing throughout the liturgy, some 40 voices strong.
It is also important to note that this high school just recently re-opened after being closed for decades when Armenia was a Soviet Republic. During that time when religion was suppressed, Harichavank was mostly silent. Now it is filled with the voices and the energy of young people. As a whole Armenians are committed to their faith and in this post-communist era a shortage of priests is a big challenge for the church. It was exciting to experience the energy of this school and the future of ministry in Armenia.
After a bit of searching I found this video about Harichivank made by the Armenian church. It is in Armenian but in it you can see more about the school and also hear the young men singing which is pretty cool.
Finally, the radio program On Being keeps a blog and they posted a picture and short reflection that I submitted to them. Check that out here: http://blog.onbeing.org/post/53443175289/in-the-foreground-a-cow