SINGAPORE (Public Radio of Armenia)—Singapore’s oldest church, the 180-year-old Armenian Apostolic Church of St. Gregory The Illuminator, will soon have an Armenian heritage museum, Straits Times reports.
Venture capitalist Pierre Hennes, 43, one of church’s four trustees, says the tiny, close-knit Armenian community and about 15 Armenians from overseas have been discussing setting up a museum since 2005.
Before that, the community was focused on tidying the church, which was declared a national monument in 1973.
Very few Armenians worship in the church, and Armenians say there is no pressure on them to attend church regularly, as religion is a very personal and private matter to them. But building churches everywhere they landed was their way of preserving their roots.
The premises are often rented out to other Orthodox Christians, such as the Coptics, for their services. What they earn goes towards maintaining the church.
If all goes well, the museum will open next year in the 110-year-old house across from the church.
The two-story building was originally a parsonage, but there has not been a resident priest there since 1933.
The trustees hope the museum will feature maps, religious relics, and Armenian literary works. The plan to open a museum is quite a turnaround from just 10 years ago, when Armenian archbishop Aghan Baliozian tried to sell the church and its residence.
The community stopped that sale and, today, Etchmiadzin in Armenia is reportedly giving the museum plan its support.
Last November, the world leader of the church, the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, was in Singapore to bless the Armenian congregation and the church.