Monthly Archives: October 2016

The LOI Addis Ababa consultation: some personal reflections

When I received a phone call shortly before we set off for the airport, advising me that a state of emergency had been declared in Ethiopia, I wondered what to expect. Yet at the same time there seemed to be no reason to change our plans to gather, and it was clear that the Ethiopian committee, whose members had first proposed this meeting, would be keen for it to go ahead. Now, looking back, Ann, my wife, and I can see that the Holy Spirit was at work in ways which could never have been planned – and sometimes in spite of our planning! One or two folk thanked us afterwards for our vision and courage; all I can say is that there did not seem any alternative to following where the Lord was leading, and it was enough to know that we were in his hands!

Most of those present were Ethiopian nationals, Orthodox as well as Evangelical. The conversations Ann and I had with various individuals left us with a great respect for them, and we shall continue to keep up with what is happening in a country which fascinated us during the fortnight we spent there.

In a previous post, you will find the statement of intent, which summarizes what happened and the personal commitment made by participants. As the week continued to unfold in unexpected ways, we learned to do what one participant called ‘rolling with the punches’, or, to put it another way, looking to discern what God was doing and falling into line. I think there was one day which went according to the planned programme, but the others certainly didn’t, for reasons beyond our control. Yet the original aim, of seeing relationships formed, strengthened and encouraged, was more than amply fulfilled as we shared together. For some, the consultation came as an answer to years of prayer; for many, it was a time when they experienced the blessing of God. May it lead to deeper understanding and co-operation between Orthodox and Evangelical believers in a country where both traditions appear so vigorous.

Statement of Intent from LOI Regional Consultation in Ethiopia

loi-2016-ethiopia-group-picture-2The LOI Regional Consultation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia concluded today by issuing the following Statement of Intent.

Download PDF version here

Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative Regional Consultation, Addis Ababa

11-14 October 2016 (1-4 Tikemt 2009)

Statement of Intent

Sixty Orthodox and Evangelical Church leaders, theologians and mission workers gathered in Addis Ababa for a Regional Consultation at the invitation of Ethiopian leaders from both traditions. Over four days, we prayed, discussed, studied and shared meals together and were graciously received during our visit to the Ethiopian Patriarchate. Over half those present came from Ethiopia, with further regional representation from Egypt, Eritrea, India and Kenya. Many Orthodox participants came from the Oriental family of Churches, and were joined by participants from the Eastern Orthodox family of Churches. Evangelical participants came from the Mekane Yesus Church, the Kale Heywet Church, the Meserete Kristos Church, the Mulu Wongel Church and the Anglican Church of Ethiopia, as well as Anglicans, Baptists, Independent Evangelicals, Methodists and Presbyterians from other parts of the region and the world.

 We wish to express our gratitude to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Evangelical Churches of Ethiopia for hosting our gathering. At the opening session we were encouraged by an inspiring message of greeting from His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, and members of the Steering Committee were warmly received by His Holiness, who encouraged them to continue the work of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative (LOI).

From a shared commitment to the historic Christian Faith, we discussed the themes of witness, peace and unity, and explored how we could address these topics together. Among other aspects, we also considered how to better understand and relate to brothers and sisters of other religious traditions in the region, as demonstrated by the work of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia.

Our time together reinforced our desire to co-ordinate our activities and co-operate with one another in a deeper way, and we wish to renew our commitment to doing so as Evangelical and Orthodox Christians. The Churches in Ethiopia look forward to continuing to work together in this way.

As participants in this historic gathering, and in response to the evident moving of the Holy Spirit amongst us, we go forward from this consultation with a clear commitment to pray for, encourage and empower a deeper fellowship in mission between our respective traditions.

To fulfil this commitment we will endeavour, in the strength of the Holy Trinity, to:

  • bear witness daily, in word and deed, to the reconciling love of the Gospel;
  • be patient, forgiving, generous and humble towards one another as we struggle with theological, cultural, historical and personal differences that divide us, as well as the historical context of our relationships, always seeking the mercy of God;
  • foster continuing engagement between our traditions within the whole region of the Horn of Africa, as in other regions, for the sake of the Kingdom of God – using, where appropriate, the insights, resources and experience of the LOI;
  • support those in Ethiopia whose vision is to explore and express more deeply our respective, and joint, participation in the Mission of God for the sake of His glory in this land;
  • encourage the “formation of mission-minded leaders” within our respective traditions, and hold in prayer the 2017 LOI consultation on this theme.

In making this commitment we, as participants in this consultation and members of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative, draw strength from the prayer of our Lord that we might “be one” in life and in witness, in the spirit of John 17. We draw hope from the experience of divine grace which we have enjoyed together this week in the fellowship of the saints of all ages.

Addis Ababa

14 October 2016

4 Tikemt 2009 (by Ethiopian calendar)

Looking forward to our Addis Ababa consultation

I have been so busy with getting ready for this that I have not posted for several weeks, but on behalf of the committee and participants I would like to request your prayers for this gathering. We meet from 11-14 October – next week! At least half the sixty people present will be from Ethiopia, with others who have worked there, as well as participants from other countries in the region. This is exciting, because the initiative for holding a gathering in Addis was very much that of local Christian leaders. Moreover, almost half those present will be Orthodox from a range of jurisdictions. Sadly, in spite of our efforts, we have encountered significant bureaucratic problems in making the practical arrangements, and some who had hoped to attend will be unable to do so.
Our theme is ‘Witness, Peace, and Unity’, timely topics and a challenging agenda. Please pray that we shall be given wisdom by the Holy Spirit to see how we can better witness together, seek peace together, and realize our unity together in Christ. Pray too that those whom God wants there will make it, and that they will gain something to take back in feed into their own ministry.