Dialogue partners meet in Turkey to discuss plans for next plenary and a common statement set for 2025
(LWI) - The next plenary session of Joint International Commission on theological dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Orthodox Church will take place from 29 April to 6 May in Wittenberg, Germany, focusing on the theme of ‘The Holy Spirit, the Church and the World: Creation, Humankind and Salvation’. Participants will start working on a common statement due for publication ahead of the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea in 2025.
The announcement came in a communiqué issued at the conclusion of a Preparatory Committee meeting which took place from 22 to 25 February on the premises of the Theological School of Halki, at the Holy Trinity Patriarchal and Stavropegial monastery in Turkey. Participants were able to visit the prestigious seminary of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, founded in the mid-19th century on the site of an ancient Orthodox monastery but closed by the Turkish government in 1971.
Prof. Dr Dirk Lange, LWF’s Assistant General Secretary for Ecumenical Relations said: “It was a joy to share in the life of the monastery, in prayer and in meals together with the monks. The abbot, Bishop Kassianos of Aravissos, hosted us with generosity and noted that many former professors from the Theological School contributed to the work for unity. For example, the 1920 encyclical entitled ‘To all the Churches of Christ’ was drawn up by professors from that period calling for the foundation of a world council of churches, which then came to fruition almost 30 years later.”
First meeting of partners since pandemic
The eight-member Preparatory Committee continued discussions on the role and activity of the Holy Spirit, hearing presentations from Lutheran and Orthodox theologians on the role and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the two traditions. The meeting was co-chaired by His Eminence Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Kyrillos of Krini and by Bishop Dr. Johann Schneider from the Evangelical Church in Central Germany.
Prof. Lange said: “Discussions on the papers were engaging and identified areas of agreement between the two traditions, particularly in the understanding of the place and the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. At the same time, it also became clear that further study was needed on the role of the Holy Spirit in the world, outside the walls of the Church. The preparatory meeting ended with great hope, inspired by the rich conversations over our two days together.”
The meeting in Halki marked the first time that the LWF and Orthodox dialogue partners were able to come together in person since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their last meeting was held in the Albanian port city of Durrës in 2019.