The Primate

His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Primate of the Eastern Diocese

His Eminence Archbishop Khajag Barsamian was born in Arapkir, Turkey, in 1951. He began his religious studies at the Holy Cross Armenian Seminary in Istanbul. From 1967 to 1971, he studied at the seminary of the St. James Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem. He was ordained a celibate priest in 1971 and achieved the ecclesiastical degree of Vartabed two years later.

His later educational pursuits have led him throughout the United States and Europe, including General Theological Seminary in New York, St. John’s University in Minneapolis, the Gregorian University in Rome, and the Oriental Institute at Oxford in England. He conducted research at the Manuscript Library of Yerevan, the Mekhitarist Institute of Venice, and the Manuscript Library at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

He has served in pastoral capacities in Istanbul; the Armenian communities in Jaffa, Haifa and Ramleh in the Middle East; and throughout the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, including Worcester, MA; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; and at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York, where he also served as Vicar General and director of Ecumenical Relations.

His Eminence was elected as Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America in 1990 and subsequently elevated to the rank of bishop by His Holiness Vasken I, the late Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, at the Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin. In October 1992, he received the rank of archbishop.

Archbishop Barsamian is a leader in a number of religious and ecumenical organizations, including the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, Religion In American Life, and the American Bible Society. He is a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and has received honorary doctorates from General Theological Seminary, Seton Hall University, and the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia.

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