ST VLASH, TIRANA, Albania: The second Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI) Consultation was held at the serene St Vlash monastery in the Albanian capital of Tirana from September 15 to 19, 2014.
According to Revd Canon Mark Oxbrow, Facilitator, Lausanne Facilitator for Orthodox-Evangelical Relations, the final commnique issued states “that relationships between Evangelicals and Orthodox engaged in mission have not always been positive. But with the efforts from LOI which is working towards increased mutual understanding and healing of wounds, in order to collaborate more effectively in God’s mission.”
Three Indian Orthodox Bishops, Dr Yuhanon Mar Demetrius, Metropolitan of Delhi Diocese, Dr Yuhanon Mar Dioscoros, Metropolitan of Chennai Diocese, Pulikkottil Dr Geevarghese Mar Yulios, Metropolitan of Ahmedabad Diocese, had represented Indian Malankara Orthodox Church at the second Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI) Consultation.
Dr Mar Yulios did a Biblical Reflection at the opening session while Dr Yuhanon Mar Demetrios acted as a responder at the plenary on “Ethical Evangelism and Proselytism”.
Sixty senior church and mission leaders, ecumenists and theologians from many parts of the world had come together for the initiative’s second consultation. Gathering at the Orthodox monastery of St Vlash in Albania, and hosted by His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios and the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, the consultation was chaired by Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Mrs Grace Mathews of the Lausanne Movement.
Topics explored included conversion and spiritual transformation, the relationship between ecclesiology and mission, and ethical evangelism and proselytism. Participants reported on how the two traditions have already found ways of collaborating in mission in various parts of the world. A youth event brought together some of the nation’s Orthodox and Evangelical young people.
In Tirana, consultation participants were received by Archbishop Anastasios at the Orthodox Cathedral, attended a meeting of the Albanian Evangelical Brotherhood (VUSH), and visited a local evangelical church, hearing in each place of the resurrection of the country’s Christian community.
The monastery’s welcoming hospitality provided a context for participants, half of whom had not been at the first consultation in 2013, to develop contacts with a view to building solid relationships. A remarkable sense of unity was evident, even during discussing contentious issues. Over time, relationships forged at these consultations should foster mutual respect and co-operation in the missionary task of our respective Christian traditions, the communique added.
The ongoing work of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative can be followed at loimission.net