Following on from his visit to the United States, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has embarked on a series of short visits to Armenia, Syria and Lebanon. The aim is to deepen church relations and promote a peace agenda. The trip runs from 22 - 29 September 2007.
The Archbishop's visit to Armenia is a result of an outstanding invitation from the Catholicos, His Holiness Karekin II, who heads the Armenian Apostolic Church. The Archbishop, who has a long-standing interest in the spirituality and history of the Eastern Churches, hosted the Catholicos at Lambeth Palace and Canterbury in 2004.
This visit is part of the Archbishop's programme of ecumenical encounter and dialogue with sister churches worldwide, learning more about their life and witness. The visit will focus on shared worship and liturgy, and visits to a range of of significant religious and national sites, to a prison for women and children to meet inmates and chaplains, as well as discussions with the Armenian government.
During the visit the Archbishop will lay a wreath and plant a tree at the Genocide Memorial - giving a boots to its case for international recognition.
Dr Williams will co-host, with British Ambassador Anthony Cantor, the Queen's Birthday Party at the Armenian Church's Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.
The Archbishop's visit to Syria and Lebanon will be shorter and forms part of his continuing personal engagement with Christian churches in the Middle East, and with leaders of other faiths in the region. The visit takes place at the invitation of the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Suhail Dawani, whose diocese covers these countries, and is being arranged in collaboration with the Middle East Council of Churches.
In Syria, as well as meetings with Christian leaders and the local Anglican community, the Archbishop will meet with the Grand Mufti of Syria and the country's President, Dr Bashar Al Asad. The programme for his visit to Lebanon will be released nearer the time.