Representatives of the Orthodox Church in America were among a group of 30 Orthodox Christian scholars who participated in a gathering at the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople here January 4-5, 2016 for the purpose of establishing connections with theologians and academics working in various disciplines and ministries throughout the world and to become better acquainted with their interests and aspirations for the Church, especially in light of the forthcoming Holy and Great Council.
“We had the opportunity to listen to His All-Holiness address all those gathered, and then, as representing different communities of scholars (representing theological schools, scholars in the secular academy, those working in mission fields, and in other areas), to offer to His All-Holiness reflections on the particular challenges we face today and how we can work together, more effectively,” said Archpriest Dr. John Behr, Dean of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, Yonkers, NY. “We then had the opportunity to hear reflections by His Eminence, Senior Metropolitan John of Pergamon on the preparations for the Council and to engage in dialogue for almost four hours, with His Eminence, sharing our thoughts and concerns in a very engaging and stimulating conversation.”
In his address, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew noted, “We have invited you because we consider you as a small representative group of a much larger segment of our Church, a symbol of our loving concern for all those ministering to the Word of God in manifold ways throughout the world. You comprise theologians and historians, scholars and teachers, women and men from the United States and Europe, as well as from Asia and Australia…. In this way, we can strengthen the bonds between hierarchal ministry and lay diakonia for the benefit of the Body of Christ.” [The complete text of His All-Holiness’ address may be read here.]
The scholars in attendance presented their reflections and responses in their respective fields and capacities as heads of Orthodox seminaries and institutes; as professors in non-Orthodox academic institutions; as theologians serving in mission, religious education and publishing; and as scholar-practitioners in the natural and social sciences, as well as human rights and social justice.
“As was noted several times during the meeting, the existence of theologians and scholars working in various fields is a relatively new phenomenon, and as such this is the first time in history that the Church has had the opportunity to engage them as a group in open dialogue,” said Archpriest Dr. Alexander Rentel, Assistant Professor of Canon Law and the John and Paraskeva Skvir Lecturer in Practical Theology at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary. “This was an opportunity which was very enriching for all, and for which we are deeply grateful.
The afternoon of January 5 was dedicated to an open discussion on preparations for the Holy and Great Council, during which the Patriarchate’s Metropolitan John chaired two extensive sessions, addressing participants and engaging them in wide-ranging discussions about goals, challenges and opportunities of the Council.
Texts of the presentations will be made available as they are received.
In addition to Fathers John and Alexander, other participants include the following.
- His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima
- His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa
- His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Sylevria
- Very Reverend Patriarchal Deacon Theodore Meimaris
- Nikolaos Asproulis, Volos Academy for Theological Studies (Greece)
- Fr. John Chryssavgis, Ecumenical Patriarchate
- Will Cohen, Scranton University (USA)
- Konstantinos Delikostantis, Athens University (Greece)
- George Demacopoulos, Fordham University (USA)
- Brandon Gallaher, Exeter University (England)
- Fr. Paul Gavrilyuk, St. Thomas University (USA)
- Tamara Grdzelidze, Vatican City (Italy)
- Perry Hamalis, North Central College (USA)
- Nathan Hoppe, Resurrection Seminary (Albania)
- Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Volos Academy (Greece)
- Philip Kariatlis, St. Andrew’s Theological College (Australia)
- Fr. Nicolas Kazarian, Sorbonne University (France)
- Elizabeta Kitanovic, European Conference of Churches (Belgium)
- John Klentos, Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute (USA)
- Fr. Panteleimon Manoussakis, Holy Cross College (USA)
- Sotiris Mitralexis, Istanbul University (Turkey)
- Fr. Chrysostomos Nassis, University of Thessaloniki (Greece)
- Aristotle Papanikolaou, Fordham University (USA)
- Athanasios N. Papathanasiou, Hellenic Open University, editor: Synaxis (Greece)
- Elizabeth Prodromou, Tufts University (USA)
- James Skedros, Holy Cross School of Theology (USA)
- Dionysios Skliris, Sorbonne University (France)
- Fr. Nathanael Symeonidis, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (USA)
- Alexis Torrance, Notre Dame University (USA)
- Athanasios Vletsis, Munich University (Germany)
- Anton Vrame, Department of Religious Education (USA)
- Stavros Yangazoglou, editor: Theologia (Greece)
- Gayle Woloschak, Northwestern University (USA)