Armenia is one of the earliest Christian civilizations — its first churches were founded in the fourth century. The country later spent centuries largely under Turkic or Persian control and its rich cultural and architectural heritage combines elements from different traditions.
An independent Republic of Armenia was proclaimed at the end of World War I but was short-lived, lasting only until the beginning of the 1920s, when the Bolsheviks incorporated it into the Soviet Union. When that empire in turn collapsed in 1991, Armenia regained independence.
Armenia has a huge diaspora and has always experienced waves of emigration. It is estimated that Armenia has lost up to a quarter of its population since independence as young families seek what they hope will be a better life abroad.
Armenians in diaspora have also come from other lands following massive displacement of those who fled or survived the genocide in Turkey. They live with scarred memories that are passed on to succeeding generations.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) relates to the Armenian Evangelical Church and its theological academy as well as to Armenian Orthodox and Catholic churches. It also works in Armenia through the Jinishian Memorial Foundation (JMF). JMF was established in Armenia in 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the devastating earthquake of 1988. Since then it has provided economic, social and spiritual assistance to more than 2.2 million needy Armenians and supported more than 150 grassroots and local NGOs through partnerships and collaboration.
JMF supports durable solutions to Armenia's social and economic problems through the following programs:
- Community development
- Economic development
- Civil society
- Relief assistance and spiritual uplift
Partner churches and organizations
Besides the Evangelical Church of Armenia (which belongs to the worldwide Armenian Evangelical Union and is a member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) relates to the Conference of European Churches (CEC), a regional ecumenical organization.
The movement that led to the creation of the CEC dates back to the period of the Cold War, when a group of church leaders brought into conversation churches in European countries separated by different political, economic and social systems. CEC has sought to build bridges not only between Eastern and Western Europe but also been between minority and majority churches and between Christians of different confessional traditions.
Learn more about Armenia
Visit the BBC country profile.
See the 2013 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 294