CEC Governing Board met in Serbia

The Conference of European Churches Governing Board recently travelled to Belgrade for its regular meeting. Much of their time together was devoted to preparations for the next CEC General Assembly, which will take place in Novi Sad from 30 May to 6 June 2018 and has already attracted national attention in Serbia.

A delegation of board members and staff led by CEC President Rt Rev. Christopher Hill KCVO, DD were received by Igor Mirović, president of the government of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, who expressed his support for the Assembly, which will bring together hundreds of church leaders and ecumenists from across Europe under the theme “You shall be my witnesses.” Vice-mayor of Novi Sad, Milorad Radojević emphasized the multicultural and multireligious character of the city, and noted that the CEC Assembly was part of a broader process that will also see Novi Sad honoured as the European City of Youth (2019) and European Cultural Capital (2020). Members of the board and staff also met with Dr Mileta Radojević, director at the Ministry of Justice, who discussed the role of interchurch and interreligious dialogue in the reconciliation process in the western Balkans. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch celebrated his names day

On 10-11 June 2017, His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew celebrated his names day on the feast of the Holy Apostles Bartholomew and Barnabas. Vespers were celebrated on the evening of 10 June at the Monastery of the Life-Bearing Source (Baloukle) in the presence of a large number of hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, of Archon Mr. Theodoros Angelopoulos, of the General Consul of Greece Mr. Evangelos Sekeres, and many faithful who came to attend the feast from different parts of the world.

On the next day, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Patriarchal church of St. Georges at the Phanar, presided from the throne by His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch together with their Eminences the Senior Metropolitan Constantine of Nicea, the Senior Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon, the Senior Metropolitan Apostolos of Derka, the Metropolitans Jeremiah of Switzerland, Germanos of Thranoupolis, Chrysostom of Dodoni, Alexander of  Mantineia and Kynouria, Cyrill of Imbros and Tennedos, Iakovos of the Princes Islands, Joseph of  Prinkeponnessos, Meliton of Philadelphia, Dimitrios of Sebastia,  Irenaios of Myriophytos and Peristasis,  Chrysostom of Myra, Dionysios of Synada, Gennadios of Sasima, Theolyptos of Ikonion, Savas of Pittsburgh, Athenagoras of Belgium, Cyrill of Rhodes, Eugene of Rethymnon and Aulopotamos, Damascene of Kydonia and Apokoronos,  Polycarp of Spain and Portugal, Nathanael of Chos and Nisyros, John of Lagada, Liti and Rentini, Stephen of Kalliopoli and Maditos, Elpidophoros of Proussa, Athenagoras of Kydonia, Cleopas of Sweden and Scandinavia, Maximos of Selivria, Gerasimos of Petra and Cheronissos, Bartholomew of Smyrna, Cyrill of Ierapytni and Seteia, and Archbishop Job of Telmessos. Were also present Metropolitan Evangelos of Perge, Maximos of Ioannina, Archbishop Nektarios of Anthedonos (permanent representative of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Constantinople), Bishop Anthony of Bogorodsk (representing the Church of Russia), Bishop Melchizedek Margbete and Oubiza (representing the Church of Georgia), and Bishops Makarios of Lampsakou, Eymenios of Lefkis, Theodoritos of Nazianzos, Cyrillos of Abydos,  Nicephore of Amorion, Adrianos of Alikarnassos and Cyrill of Erythron, of many clergy, monastics and laity from all over the world, of the General Council of Greece in Istanbul Mr. Evangelos Sekeres, of the Ambassador of Greece to Ukraine Mr. Georges Poukamisas and many honored guests. At the end of the Divine Liturgy, after the homily of His All-Holiness, His Grace Bishop Anthony of Bogorodsk (representing the Church of Russia) read the greeting letter and presented the gift on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

WCC Executive Committee reflects on Visible Church Unity

The World Council of Churches Executive Committee met at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey on 7-12 June 2017, focusing on unity, renewal of the WCC strategic plan and financial strategy, the building project, preparations for the 11th Assembly and observance of WCC’s 70th anniversary.

In his report to the WCC Executive Committee on 11 June 2017, the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit focused on visible unity. As he stated, “We are living in a time when the purpose and the objectives of the World Council of Churches are of the highest relevance. The many expressions of polarization, greater gaps between rich and poor, extremism and violence, worries about the future of the planet Earth and withdrawal of accountability for our common home and future create a constant challenge to we stand for, what we can do, and what our values and vision are.” He also reminded that on “April 24 this year HAH Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, visited the Ecumenical Centre and reminded us in his public speech of the legacy pursued by his predecessors since 1920: the call for a council of churches to work for the visible unity of the church.” For these and several other reasons, he affirmed his belief “that there is a need for a new search for unity.” As he said: “The call to unity is not obsolete, it is more urgent than ever. The call to unity for a common and shared witness to Christ is a key dimension of being the one church of Jesus Christ. The challenges we face in the ecumenical movement and in the WCC to express this unity fully, should not lead us to ignore the call to be one, but to more efforts and more perspectives to what it means to be one.” Continue reading

Ecumenical Prayer in Jerusalem

On Pentecost Sunday, 4 June 2017, World Council of Churches General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit joined the Jerusalem Patriarchate for the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit at the Most Holy Church of the Resurrection. He was officially received by  His Beatitude Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos who led the celebration, celebrating together with Their Eminences Metropolitan Isychios of Kapitolias, Archbishops Theodosios of Sebastia, Demetrios of Lydda, and Metropolitan Joachim of Helenoupolis, the Hagiotaphite clergy, as well as local congregants and pilgrims. The Dismissal of the Divine Liturgy was followed by the Vespers of the Monday of the Holy Spirit with the kneeling prayers, in which representatives of the World Council of Churches participated. An ecumenical prayer service was then held at the Dormition Abbey on 5 June, initiated by church leaders in Jerusalem calling for Christians all over the world to pray for justice and peace. Continue reading

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew participated in the Concordia Europe Summit

His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew participated in the Concordia Europe Summit which took place in Athens (Greece) on 6-7 June 2017. Concordia is a registered nonprofit organization that enables public-private partnerships to create a more prosperous and sustainable future. As equal parts convener, campaigner, and idea incubator, Concordia is creating a new model for how a nonpartisan, nonprofit can have a global impact. The Concordia Europe Summit takes place at a pivotal time for the continent, following significant shifts in regional leadership that will continue throughout 2017. As the popular vote has become far less predictable than ever before, elections in Italy, France, Germany, and elsewhere are affecting not only on citizen populations, but also universal human rights, global markets, migrant populations, and regional investment climates. Concordia believes that public-private partnerships (P3s) have great potential for impact in Europe as it works to preserve a modern-day union, quell a burgeoning refugee crisis, and reignite regional economic growth while remaining on the path to achieving the SDGs by 2030. By convening regional leadership to address these challenges and formulate practical solutions, Concordia is providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and brokering new relationships across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

In his address, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew focused on migration as challenging European identity. He reminded that “for Christian Churches, the migration and refugee crisis challenges our central biblical and ecclesial principles. Hospitality for the foreigner is at the core of the life and the pastoral mission of the Church”. He referred to his visit last year to the island of Lesvos with his brothers Pope Francis of Rome and Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece to meet with the refugees. He underlines that the migration crisis challenges the European identity at its deepest core, stating that “it is unacceptable that some Europeans, who praise human rights and who wish to appear as defenders of a “Christian Europe”, at the same time employ hard language against migrants and refugees, and defend closed European borders”. He also mentioned the protection of environment for which “Christianity and humanitarian movements come together and go hand in hand”. He called to “transform the “threat of otherness” into the opportunity to foster a culture of solidarity and inclusion”. According to the Ecumenical Patriarch, “the world expects the common witness of people of faith. It is our duty to promote interreligious dialogue. Communication and openness liberate religions from introversion. The mutual trust between religions is a force supporting universal peace. Antagonism and mistrust are diminishing the capacity of religions to contribute to the culture of solidarity, which is the condition sine qua non for the just solution of the migration problem”.

Ecumenical Patriarch commemorates 500 years of the Reformation in Germany

From 29 May until 2 June, 2017, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew travelled to Germany to visit the Evangelical Church in Germany, which is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The Patriarch was invited by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm to attend the celebrations.

During his visit, the Patriarch met with the Minister President of the state of Baden-Württemberg, His Excellency Winfried Kretschmann, received an honorary doctorate from the historic University of Tübingen, and traveled to Berlin where he was invited by the Konrad Adenauer foundation to deliver a lecture entitled “Orthodoxy and Human Rights”. The Patriarch also met with the new President of the Federal Republic of Germany. Continue reading