The Second Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 18th Plenary Session of the International Joint Commission on the Theological Dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Orthodox Church was held in Chalki, Türkiye, from 22nd to 25th of February 2023. The Meeting was hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the generous hospitality of H.A.H. Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, and was held on the premises of the now closed (since 1971) Theological School of Chalki, at the Holy Trinity Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery.
The Meeting was co-chaired by H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Kyrillos of Krini (Ecumenical Patriarchate) from the Orthodox side and by the Rev. Bishop Dr. Johann Schneider (Evangelical Church in Central Germany/EKM) from the Lutheran World Federation. The main theme of “The Holy Spirit, the Church and the World” was discussed.
Orthodox participants were: V.Rev. Grand Archimandrite Dr. Agathangelos, Archivist of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Co-secretary), V.Rev. Protopresbyter Em. Prof. Dr. George Dion Dragas (Patriarchate of Jerusalem), and Prof. Dr. Rade Kisić (Patriarchate of Serbia). Lutheran participants were: Rev. Prof. Dr. Dirk G. Lange, LWF – Assistant General Secretary Ecumenical Relations (Co-secretary), Rev. Prof. Dr. Jennifer Wasmuth (Göttingen University, Germany), and Rev. Prof. Dr. Stefan Tobler (Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania).
The Committee members heard presentations on the main theme from both sides, about the place and the role of the Holy Spirit:
Rev. Prof. Dr. Jennifer Wasmuth, ”Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue. Past and Present”, H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Kyrillos of Krini, ”The activity of the Holy Spirit in other religions and cultures”, V.Rev. Protopresbyter Em. Prof. Dr. George Dion Dragas, “The Holy Spirit in the Holy Trinity in Orthodox Theology and Liturgical Practice”, Rev. Prof. Dr. Stefan Tobler, “The role of the Holy Spirit. A general approach from Lutheran perspective”, and Prof. Dr. Rade Kisić, “Pneumatology in earlier Dialogue Rounds of the Joint Lutheran-Orthodox Commission. An Orthodox Approach”.
Discussions on papers reflecting the above themes identified areas of agreement between the two traditions, particularly in the understanding of the place and the role of the Holy Spirit into the life of the Church and identified the need for further study of the role of the Holy Spirit in the world. The Committee according to specific observations and suggestions improved the previously prepared common paper (Durrës, Albania, 2019), based on discussion of papers of the Commission, on the act, role, and place of the Holy Spirit. It was decided that the focus of the theme for the next step of the dialogue will be: “The Holy Spirit, the Church and the World: Creation, Humankind and Salvation” and will be prepared for the Anniversary of Nicea, 2025.
The working sessions of the Preparatory Committee started with an Οpening Prayer, led by Metropolitan Kyrillos, and were concluded with a Closing Prayer, led by Bishop Schneider.
On Thursday, 23rd of February, the participants had the opportunity to take a tour at places of the historical Holy Trinity Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery and the silent Theological School of Chalki.
On Friday afternoon, 24th of February, the members visited the Metochion of the Holy Sepulcher (Patriarchate of Jerusalem), were received and enjoyed the hospitality of the Patriarchal Commissary, H.E. Archbishop Nektarios of Anthedon.
The Committee expressed deep appreciation and gratitude to H.A.H. the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for his generous hospitality, as well to H.G. Bishop Kassianos of Aravissos, Abbot of the Holy Trinity Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of Chalki, V.Rev. Archimandrite Gedeon Mangriotis, Rev. Deacon Meletios Stefanatos, Mr. Dimitrios Agoris, and all the Staff.
The Committee decided that the 18th Plenary Session will be held from 29th of April to 6th of May 2023, hosted by the Lutheran World Federation in Wittenberg, Germany.