At our recent consultation, Grace Mathews, who has served as Evangelical co-chair of LOI, handed on the baton to Leslie Doll. Grace writes:
The Lausanne Orthodox Initiative (LOI) was born at Cape Town 2010 (CT) through its focus articulated in the Spirit of Lausanne (to be H.I.S church in humility, integrity and simplicity), and its emphasis on “the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world”.
Bishop Angaelos (as he then was) was one of the ‘Observers’ from the Orthodox Churches present at CT 2010 and a friendship quickly developed between him and a growing list of Lausanne friends. As a result, a leadership team was formed from both traditions and we organised an initial gathering in Oxford in October 2011. It was to be “the beginning of something that could go on for 2-3 years”. We discussed the possibility of a first consultation and though there were many areas of concern in bringing a gathering together from the two traditions, yet because of the wonderful and mighty work of God, we were able to organise the first consultation in St Vlash Monastery near Durres, Albania, in 2013. We were graciously hosted by Archbishop Anastasios. This is when I was asked to be the Evangelical Co-chair of LOI to work alongside the able leadership of Bishop Angaelos. At the consultation, we reflected on the historical relation between the Orthodox and Evangelical communities and discussed how we could facilitate mutual understanding between the two groups. We were invited by the Patriarchate to meet again in Albania the following year. The two groups, in a spirit of unity in mission, also conducted a joint mission project in Egypt, which helped to further strengthen this initiative. In 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, we held gatherings in Finland, Ethiopia, Cambridge and Boston, where the growing enthusiasm and deepening appreciation for this initiative was evident. There was open dialogue with plenty of time provided to get to know one another and build understanding and trust. The Bible reflections, times of worship, and papers presented were insightful and inspiring. In November 2019, we were hosted by Pope Tawadros at the Monastery of St Pishoy, where I concluded 7 years as Co-chair of LOI.
It has indeed been an honour and privilege to have served LOI with the opportunity to ‘build bridges’, to be enriched and strengthened by friendships and to experience God’s rich blessings and guidance through this effort. I cannot but rejoice and praise God for my time with LOI, bookended at St Vlash Monastery with the blessing of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and the blessing of Pope Tawadros at one of the oldest monasteries of Christendom, the Monastery of St Pishoy, where since the 4th century monks have dedicated their lives to the service of our Lord.
I am encouraged at the progress we have made. LOI is committed in our mission to promote respect and understanding among committed Orthodox and Evangelical Christians and to act as catalysts in facilitating mission and reconciliation. We understand that at the heart of the gospel stands the great act of reconciliation through Christ.
As LOI transitions to a new co-chair, my prayers and support are with Leslie as we move forward with God’s mission. Leslie is not new to LOI, having being part of it from its earliest initiatives at CT. She has been tireless in encouraging and motivating the team. It is with a great sense of delight and joy that I hand the baton over to Leslie, knowing she will be enthusiastic in continuing the great initiative that has begun under the wise hand of our God.
Leslie Doll, incoming Evangelical co-chair, writes:
It is quite a joy and honour to succeed Grace as Evangelical Co-chair of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative. LOI has come a long way since its origins in Cape Town, the providential meeting with (Arch)bishop Angaelos, and embracing a clear commitment that Evangelicals and Orthodox simply must join together in the Mission of God in these last days. The Great Commission is a high and holy calling and requires the full Body of Christ as commanded in the Scriptures.
I am grateful to God for what He has done over the past eight years among Orthodox and Evangelicals around the world. We are seeing stronger relationships, an enthusiastic spirit of collaboration, a shared commitment to Christ, and abounding love for one another. As I now join Archbishop Angaelos as Co-chair, I pray for God’s continued blessing and favour upon LOI as He leads Orthodox and Evangelicals even deeper into His mission of reconciliation together, all for HIs glory.