Fr. Isahak Poghosyan, a priest in the Armenian Apostolic Church, is the Anglican Foundation’s 10th Saint Basil’s scholar. A recipient of the Order of Holy See of Echmiadzin, he arrived in Toronto in December to study at the University of Toronto.
What appealed to you about studying in Canada on the Saint Basil Scholarship?
This was a great opportunity for me to learn about the life of our Anglican sister church and become acquainted with the lifestyle of Canadians in general.
Despite the distance and differences between the Armenian and Anglican churches, we hear about one another frequently. There is a saying in Armenian that goes, “It is better to see once than hear about it 100 times.”
So, why not learn firsthand about the history and mission of a church that has been spreading the seeds of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ for many years, reaching around the world, preaching and conducting outreach missions?
Why not learn about the history of a church that throughout the centuries established rich traditions and today finds ways to solve challenging problems with the utmost care?
Why not learn about the history of a church that takes the establishment of close and much-needed relations with sister churches very seriously?
What area will your studies focus on?
I am interested in the daily life of the Anglican church and the study of New Testament and pastoral theology and methodology, which I am undertaking at the Toronto School of Theology. I am also looking forward to strengthening my English language skills!
What do you hope to bring back to your parish and colleagues in Armenia from this year in Canada?
I had the honour of meeting the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Rev. Fred Hiltz, as well as the Rev. Canon Dr. Judy Rois, executive director of the Anglican Foundation.
I am certain that this experience will be beneficial to both churches, and I am hoping that a representative of the Anglican Church of Canada will visit Armenia and the Holy See of Etchmiadzin in the near future to learn about our church and culture.
What are the major current issues facing the Orthodox Church in Armenia?
Historically, the Armenian Orthodox Church has been through many challenges over the centuries. It is no accident that we emphatically refer to it as our “national church.” Our nation is still struggling with the genocide issue [the killing or starvation of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in 1915-16 by Turkey]. Sooner or later that has to be addressed and accepted by the government of Turkey because its continuing denial of the truth is tantamount to dishonouring the holy and the sacred.
What lies ahead?
For some, the history of Christianity has come to an end and for others, it is only an ideology or a code of ethics. But I am positive that Christianity has today entered a new stage of development. The history of Christianity is embarking on a new era, and nations and peoples will come to accept the spiritual truth of Christianity.
Armenia is a country with a rich and fruitful history of educating new clergy, who will lead people away rom the impending “spiritual crisis” to knowing our Lord through his churches. To that end, all Christian churches need to have ongoing dialogue and communication-that has been our dream for a very long time.
Both inside and outside Armenia, and particularly in Canada, we have faithful Armenian communities with many members from the younger generation. We need to help these young people turn toward the light and faith, and assist them in continuing on their proud mission. Evil and wickedness are nothing but the absence of examples and role models of goodness and kindness.
Is there another message you would like to send?
We wish peace and success to all Christian churches in their missions, and take this opportunity to particularly extend our well wishes and gratitude to the Anglican Church of Canada for this opportunity to study here.
The Saint Basil Scholarship
Named for the 4th-century monastic, the Saint Basil Scholarship was established in 1991 with a gift from the late Henry Hill, Bishop of Ontario. Under the auspices of the Anglican Foundation, it promotes ecumenical dialogue and friendship between Canadian Anglicans and the Oriental Orthodox Churches and Assyrian Church. The scholarship sends Anglican clergy, seminarians and members of religious order to study in the east, and brings their Orthodox counterparts to Canada to promote appreciation of the diversity within the body of Christ. For more information, go to www.anglicanfoundation.org