The communique from the 2014 LOI consultation was published today and can be seen at http://www.loimission.net/2014-communique/ where a .pdf copy can also be downloaded. Consultation participants are encouraged to send the communique to their churches, agencies and press outlets. Please add your own reflections and if you need pictures request these from firstname.lastname@example.org
One day during the Lausanne – Orthodox Initiative 2014 consultation I found myself disturbed. I was upset because I felt like other members of my discussion group were not taking my experience and point of view seriously.
I returned to my room to pray, and the Lord immediately pointed out to me that it was my pride and insecurity that had been jarred. And He reminded me of Ephesians 4:2-3, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
So, I resolved to leave my room in love, trusting God for His blessing. Within a few minutes He led another participant to encourage me regarding my presence and influence at the consultation, and we ended up sharing with one another how God had invested years preparing us to be involved in the LOI. God’s presence was evident.
I confess that I still wonder to what degree others took my ideas and experiences seriously at the consultation. But when I wonder that, I’m reminded of this thought from St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, “Pride is darkness, but humility is light.” However God may lead LOI forward, I’m sure that humility will be a key to God’s purposes for us.
The Lausanne-Orthodox consultation, gathered at St. Vlash monastery, Albania, was ‘invaded’ today by one hundred young people. At the invitation of the LOI 50 Orthodox and 50 Evangelical youth gathered to listen to Mr. Austin McCaskill of the Albanian Encouragement Project (ECP) and His Grace Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church (UK)
This was followed by lively discussion groups and a meal during which Orthodox and Evangelicals, young and older participants, mingled freely and expressed their hopes for the church of the future. The youth confessed that in recent years they have not met regularly together with other traditions and their desire to understand each other better. In discussion groups before dinner the LOI participants reflected on their meeting with the youth and the place of younger people in the mission of God.
The second Lausanne-Orthodox Consultation opened tonight with a dinner hosted by His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Pastor Ali Kurti, President of the Albanian Evangelical Brotherhood (VUSH) and attended by over 50 delegates from 20 countries.
His Beatitude spoke of the resurrection of the church in Albania and the challenges of witness in contemporary society which does not allow us the luxury of a breach in fellowship between Christians of all traditions. Picking up this theme Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church and co-chair of the LOI suggested that we might need to separate our theological dialogues (where we continue to wrestle with major theological issues) from our solidarity and unity in witness and Christian living. Pastor Ali Kurti spoke of the presence of evangelicals in Albania for several centuries and their witness through times of persecution and isolation. He also voiced the high regard in which evangelicals hold Archbishop Anastasios.
Following the formal welcomes His Eminence Metropolitan Dr. Geevarghese Mar Yulios of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North India gave a Biblical reflection based on the third letter of John verse 4 in which we are reminded that walking in the truth (the orthodox – but not necessarily Orthodox – way) brings joy to others and to God.
The consultation continues tomorrow with discussions on Spiritual Transformation, Conversion and Hope through Collaboration and, in the afternoon, a meeting with Orthodox and Evangelical youth.
The Indian Orthodox Herald is one of the first media organs to report on the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative this week. Commenting on the significance of the presence of three senior Orthodox bishops from India the Herald reminds readers that, “The Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative is a movement of Orthodox and Evangelical Christians who wish to respect each other’s beliefs, learn from each other, and support one another as we each obey the call to share in God’s mission. The initiative was established after the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2010.” Read the full article here.
As the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative prepares to gather for its consultation in Albania (in two day’s time) we have received news from the Logos Centre in Kiev, Ukraine, where Orthodox and Evangelical Christians are together responding to a crisis.
Our contact there writes, “the Logos Centre (www.kiev-logoscenter.org) have opened our doors to those internally displaced people who have made it out of their cities to find refuge elsewhere. The stories are just incredible. Our centre is now “home” to 170+ people 68 of which are children, 4 pregnant moms and 1 who just delivered her 4th baby 3 weeks ago. We are a full family.
“We are working tirelessly to winterize the centre and get the folks out of the common halls where they all sleep together and into family rooms as they become available before winter arrives. Already people are sharing everything including germs!
“I know that I sought financial help from you all in the past but now we really are in a crisis spot as people have lost all to move to a place where they are expected to share all. Would you be willing to receive our newsletter and pray? Would you be willing to think creatively with us and see if there is a way to help us either financially with the purchase of a room or few rooms or send clothing or funds for food?
“There are now over 1million people displaced from their homes in Ukraine. The folks who are at our centre are mostly believers from different denominations so we are caring for them more easily in a whole person way. They are reading the Bible and praying together regularly and the Christian community is reaching out in practical ways as well. Pray with us.”
This centre is led by an Orthodox priest and has staff and volunteers from many different denominations.
We will try to find time to show a video of their ministry at our consultation next week.
If you are unable to join us in Albania this year please do pray for those gathered and seek God’s guidance and blessing for us.
If you are joining us please remember that all the practical details you need are available on our website at www.loimission.net in the “2014 LOI Consultation” section and its sub-pages.
You can now download the Consultation Handbook at http://www.loimission.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/LOI-2014-Handbook_Post-Final_.pdf but each participant will be given a printed copy on arrival so you do not need to print your own copy now.
We will be publishing news and pictures of the consultation during our meeting so please do register to receive up-dates by using the orange “Subscribe” button on the home page of our website www.loimission.net
Thank you to Dr. James Stamoolis for bringing this fascinating item to our attention.
Exactly 50 years ago in September 1964 The Churchman (a journal of Anglican theology) published an article by John Pollock entitled simply “In Soviet Central Asia”. In the article John, an Evangelical Anglican, reports on a recent visit to Tashkent and his meeting there with Baptist and Orthodox church leaders. His comments are pertinent to our meeting in Albania this month.
Having seen the words “God is Love” displayed in colourful text in an Evangelical Church, John writes, “This love breeds unity, and it is a unity which at last is crossing denominational barriers. Evangelical Anglicans [John’s background] are naturally interested in the relationship between the Orthodox and the Baptists in the Soviet Union. There used to be a deep gulf; once again the causes lie in history. The early Baptist-Evangelicals suffered severely in Tsarist times from persecution by church and state, closely intertwined with the state dominating the church, which it regarded as an important bulwark of the autocracy and any religious nonconformity as almost tantamount to treason. Unfortunately the majority of Orthodox priests entered wholeheartedly into the policy of repression, and did their utmost to extinguish the Evangelicals. Nevertheless much that was best in Orthodoxy was carried, almost unconsciously and despite mutual antipathy into the Baptist stream. Baptist services are unliturgical yet have a sense of tradition and dignity that used to be lacking in much Western nonconformist worship. And now the suspicions between Orthodox and Baptists, already resolved at higher levels, are everywhere dying. I recall a jovial Orthodox Archbishop in one Central Asian city, as he sat in his little house plying us with food (and wines by the dozen, almost !) saying of the Baptists, between mouthfuls. “They can go where we with our robes and paraphernalia cannot. Our priests can’t go into factories. The Baptists can – they work there”. He took a sip of Georgian champagne, and added, with expressive gestures: “We used to chase them with pitchforks. Now we draw them to us with a kiss of peace!”
The Churchman : Vol: 78 No. 3 September 1964 Pgs. 213-4
Pitchforks, by the way are banned from our consultation in Albania!
Writing “in solidarity with the various appeals and statements that have been issued by the leaders of our sister Eastern Churches, as well as my some Islamic groups” the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon has issued an appeal for urgent advocacy, action and prayer.
The council encourages all Christians to “work for a long term strategy aimed at putting an end to the phenomena of cruel violence and indiscriminate murder, as well as the ejection of individuals and peoples from the Middle East.”
Please take time to read the full statement by using the link below and acting accordingly.
The meeting of leaders from Middle Eastern churches and many others was conveened at Lambeth palace by Anglican Archbishop, Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, and Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church. Their statement continues, “Those who promote this intolerance must be challenged and the perpetrators of violence held to account. The suffering of those who bear the brunt of its terror requires us to act and bear witness to their plight, whatever ethnic group or religious minority, they come from. We must provide relief and safety for those displaced and in fear of their lives in consultation with our partners in the region. We must also bring pressure to bear on those who can provide security to those affected.
“In meeting and praying together, we give thanks for our brothers and sisters as they continue to live their Christian faith with strength and perseverance. We commit to continue to stand with them in prayer, to speak for freedom from persecution for Christians and all other religious communities and those of no faith who live as minority groups across the region. We also continue to urge Her Majesty’s Government to work within the international community to safeguard and provide for all those affected.”
The full statement and press release can be seen here.