24th September, 2012
Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand and the first president of the National Council of Churches in Australia, Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, died on the weekend.
The National Council of Churches current president, Rev Tara Curlewis, said the archbishop, who was held in high esteem both in Australia and around the world for his wisdom and commitment to Christian unity, interreligious dialogue and peace building, would be remembered for his "outstanding commitment to ecumenism".
"His role in promoting Christian unity, the participation of the orthodox churches both in the NCCA and WCC, and the importance of interfaith dialogue is a continuing legacy for the churches. Alongside his work with the churches he worked with the wider community where he was held in high esteem by both local community and political leaders.”
The archbishop, who died in Sydney on Saturday, arrived in Australia in 1975 to take up the post of Vicar General of the diocese before being appointed as Primate of Australia and New Zealand in 1982.
He served as the first president of the NCCA between 1994-1997, as president of the NSW Ecumenical Council, between 2005-2007and also represented the Armenian Church within the World Council of Churches participating in the Assemblies of Canberra (1991), Harare (1998) and Porto Alegre (2006). He was was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1995 and in 2001 the Centenary Medal.
"As a fellowship of churches we have all been touched by his leadership, passion for ecumenism, his encouragement of the youth and his love for people," said Rev Curlewis. "
Let us keep the Armenian Apostolic Church and its leadership in our prayers during this time of loss, mourning and transition.”
- DAVID ADAMS