20 January 2016

Cambridge conference to discuss
Anglican-Orthodox dialogue

Trinity College, Cambridge, venue for a one-day conference next month on Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

A special conference has been organised in Cambridge next month [February 2016] to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Saint Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute, Paris, and the recent publication of the first Agreed Statement of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology.

The one-day conference in Trinity College, Cambridge, has been organised with title: ‘The Saint Sergius Institute: Celebrating 90 Years of Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue.’

The conference takes place on Saturday 13 February 2016 in the Winstanley Lecture Theatre in Trinity College, Cambridge. The programme for the day is:

10:00-10:45: Registration.

10:45-11:00: Welcome and Introduction.

11:00-12:00: ‘The Healing of the “Terrible Wound”: Anglican-Orthodox Encounters in the Early History of the Institut Saint-Serge’, Dr Brandon Gallaher, University of Exeter.

12:00-13:00: ‘Orthodoxy, Anglicanism and Sophiology,’ Professor John Milbank, University of Nottingham.

13:00-14:30: Lunch, with an opportunity to visit an exhibition of liturgical books in the Wren Library.

14:30-14:45: Screening of archive photographs and footage from the St Sergius Institute.

14:45-15:45: Panel Discussion, chaired by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia (to be confirmed).

15:45-16:45: ‘Sergii Bulgakov and Vasilii Kandinskii: Two Visionaries of the Wisdom of God,’ Dr Antoine Arjakovsky (Collège des Bernadins, Paris).

16:45-17:00: Concluding Remarks.

17:00-18:00: Drinks Reception, Old Combination Room, Trinity College.

The registration fee for the day is £20. For more information and to register, email: saintsergiusconference@gmail.com

The Institut de théologie orthodoxe Saint-Serge (St Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute) in Paris is a private Orthodox school of theology founded in 1925. The mission of institute is to form educated priests and laypeople intending to serve the Orthodox Church and to represent it in ecumenical dialogue. It is under the canonical jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Exarchate in Western Europe, and is supported by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Soon after the institute was founded, the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius was founded in 1928 to foster relations between the Anglican and Orthodox traditions. It is based in Oxford, publishes the journal Sobornost and organises an annual conference.

Orthodox-Anglican dialogue is in fact the oldest of all ecumenical relationships, and dates back to 1862, over 60 years before the institute was founded.

Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis recognised Anglican orders in 1922. Patriarch Meletios, who was born in Crete in 1871, served as Ecumenical Patriarch from 1921-1923. He was the only person successively to lead four autocephalous Orthodox Churches: Cyprus, Greece, Constantinople and Alexandria.

He was elected Metropolitan of Kition in 1910, and in the years before World War I he began successful talks in New York with representatives of the Episcopal Church with the intention of “expanding relations between the two Churches.”

In 1918, he became Archbishop of Athens, and as Archbishop of Athens he visited England for talks between the Anglicans and the Orthodox Church. However, he was deprived of this see at the end of 1920, and he fled to the US in February 1921.

In a surprising reversal of fortune, the exiled Archbishop Meletios was elected Ecumenical Patriarch on 27 November 1921. Before leaving the US, it was reported, he “vested, took part in an Anglican service, knelt in prayer with Anglicans, venerated their Holy Table, gave a sermon, and later blessed those present.”

As Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios IV, he secured the declaration from by the Patriarchate of Constantinople accepting the validity of Anglican orders in 1922.

However, under pressure from other Orthodox bishops to resign, Patriarch Meletius IV left Constantinople in 1923 and subsequently retired as Patriarch. He was elected Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and was enthroned as Meletios II of Alexandria on 20 May1926. He remained in office in Alexandria until his death in 1935 and was buried in Cairo.

Meanwhile, in 1923, Patriarch Damianos and the Orthodox Synod of Jerusalem also gave qualified recognition to Anglican orders. In a telegram sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Patriarch Damianos said: “We have pleasure to inform your Grace that Holy Synod of our Patriarchate, after studying in several meetings question Anglican Orders from Orthodox point of view, resolved their validity.” This was followed by a letter the following day, stating that Anglican orders were considered by the Orthodox Church as having “the same validity which the Orders of the Roman Church have.”

Before these controversies, the Eastern Churches Association was formed in 1864, to work for the union of the Anglican and Orthodox Churches, and in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917, the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius was formed in England.

Nicolas Zernov, a Russian exile, organised a series of conferences in St Albans to bring together young Eastern and Western Christian students for theological discussions.

The conferences of 1927 and 1928 were ground-breaking for their time. Conference speakers have included Father Sergii Bulgakov, Father Georgii Florovsky and Father Alexander Elchaninov, as well as lay theologians such as Vladimir Lossky and Lev Zander.

Until the mid-1970s, the Fellowship of St Alban and St Sergius provided one of the few forums for Western Christians to encounter Eastern Orthodox worship, prayer and thought.

Formal Anglican-Orthodox dialogue began in 1973, when the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Discussions first met in Oxford. The first phase of the dialogue was concluded by the publication of The Moscow Agreed Statement in 1976. The publication of The Dublin Agreed Statement in 1984 brought the second phase to a conclusion. Both statements record a measure of agreement on a range of specific topics, while acknowledging continuing divergence on others.

The third phase of the dialogue began in 1989, when the commission was re-constituted as The International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue and chaired by Metropolitan John of Pergamon and Bishop Henry Hill and Bishop Mark Dyer. This third phase of the dialogue gave further consideration to ecclesiological issues and to Trinitarian doctrine.

The fourth phase began in Crete in 2009, and has met in 2010 (Oxford), 2011 (Albania), 2012 (Chester), 2013 (Serbia), and 2014 (Jerusalem). Last September [2015], Archbishop Richard Clarke of Armagh, recently attended a meeting of the commission in Buffalo, US.

At that meeting in Buffalo, the commission completed the first section of its work on the theological understanding of the human person, with the adoption of its agreed statement, In the Image and Likeness of God: A Hope-Filled Anthropology. The report is the culmination of six years of study on what Anglicans and Orthodox can say together about the meaning of human personhood in the divine image.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge has announced details of this year’s series of Community Lecture Days 2016, under the title: ‘Contemporary Fathers and Mothers of the Church: Guides for Today’s World.’

20 February: the Revd Dr Seraphim Aldea, ‘Father Sophrony Sakharov.’

19 March: Dr Krastu Banev, ‘Saint Maria of Paris (Skoptsova).’

16 April: the Revd Dr Danut Manastireanu, ‘Father Dumitru Staniloae.’

21 May: Irina Kirillova, ‘Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.’

18 June: Karen Hetherington, ‘Saint Macarius Glukharev and Saint Macarius Nevsky.’

Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge … the venue once again for the IOCS annual conference this year (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The IOCS annual summer onference, which addresses the same theme, is to take place from 29-31 August 2016 at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. More details will be made available soon on the IOCS website.

The IOCS has also organised a series of Icon painting workshops with Nikita Andrejev for 2016.

The Introductory Iconography Course with the Prosopon School of Iconology takes place from Monday 4 April to Saturday 9 April. A second, intermediate Iconography Course with the Prosopon School of Iconology runs from Monday 5 September to Saturday 10 September 2016.

The fee for the week is £350, which includes personal tuition and all materials, plus tea and coffee. Advance payment is necessary to secure a place, and numbers are limited to 12 only for each course.

Further information is available by email to info@iocs.cam.ac.uk or by mail to IOCS, 25-27 High Street Chesterton, Cambridge CB4 1ND. For more information is also available at the IOCS website: www.iocs.cam.ac.uk.

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