Opening of Religious Iconography Exhibit Honors the Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright

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On the evening of February 6, The General Theological Seminary hosted a reception marking the opening of the special exhibition, "Religious Iconography of the 19th and 20th Centuries." The exhibition is part of a celebration honoring the retirement of the Rev. Dr. J. Robert Wright, M.Div, D.Phil., D.D., D.Cn.L. and his contributions to the Seminary, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, as well as His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, who received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from GTS on the same evening. After describing being presented with the history of Western Christianity during his studies at The General Theological Seminary, Father Wright spoke of his keen interest in Eastern Orthodoxy. "I am very appreciative of [the Orthodox Church's] witness to the whole Christian worldwide scene and I think that we as Anglicans can be grateful to them for their witness and their contribution."

The exhibition, which runs through February 27, is comprised of 22 icons and a number of smaller pieces selected from a private collection previously owned by Wright. The religious icons and articles come from Russian, Greek, Serbian, Palestinian, and Ethiopian traditions, and the exhibition celebrates faith and tradition, artfully expressed in painting, textile and silver-work of the Orthodox churches.

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Subjects range from the All-seeing Eye of God, patriarchs and prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures to depictions of events recorded in the New Testament—saints and martyrs familiar and foreign to most Western Christians. The passage from Colossians, “Jesus is the image (icon) of the invisible God,” is the inspirational source of the iconographer who makes Jesus visible. Icons invite the beholder into the immediacy of intimacy with the Holy One. They are a medium through which the beholder and the one who is depicted may enter silently into a contemplative space. Icons connect us as a people of faith worshipping in different traditions to God, our common faith tradition. They help us to see God’s story in our story—and ours in God’s story.

Preceding the opening of the exhibit, a Festive Evensong in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd honored GTS Alumnus, His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and celebrated the conferral of an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree upon him. A choir from St. Nersess Armenian Seminary joined the community during worship, adding aspects of the Armenian tradition to the Festive Evensong. Read more about the conferral here.