The Mission of God
The first consultation of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative
At the gracious invitation of His Beatitude Archbishop Dr Anastasios Yannoulatos of Albania 46 Eastern and Oriental Orthodox and Evangelical leaders, from 20 different countries, gathered at St. Vlash Monastery in Albania from 2 to 6 September 2013 for the first international consultation of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative.
Meeting under the theme The Mission of God participants were reminded by His Beatitude that “The Spirit ceaselessly gives life to the Church and to each of the Church’s members, transforming them into living cells of the mystical body of Christ, enabling it to partake in His continuing mission for the salvation of the entire cosmos.” Echoing this confession of Orthodox faith, Evangelical missiologist, Dr. Darrell Jackson, reminded us of the call of the Lausanne Movement that the whole Church should take the whole gospel to the whole world. Reviewing recent developments in Evangelical missiology and mission practice Dr. Jackson was able to point to convergences within our respective Orthodox and Evangelical understandings of the Mission of God whilst not neglecting those points which remain a matter not only of dispute but of real hurt.
Central to the evident, and to some surprising, success of this gathering, were the times spent together in the study of Scripture, in prayer and in honest, frank and generous discussion both in plenary and small groups. Participants recognised themselves as being on a pilgrimage of mutual and self- discovery, a journey whose destination is neither institutional restructuring nor theological conformity but rather our faithful participation in the Mission of God which will, in God’s time, bring us to that place where “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, [stands] before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9)
In frank discussion, through moving testimony, and in a spirit of respect and hospitality participants wrestled with the challenging issues of proselytism, canonical territory, salvation, justification, theosis and much more resolving to continue to journey together with a second international gathering already being planned for the early autumn of 2014.
As we move forward together, the goal of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative is to reflect constructively on the history of relationships between Orthodox and Evangelicals in order to work towards better understanding, and encourage reconciliation and healing where wounds exist. Through this process Evangelicals and Orthodox will be mutually enriched and strengthened in the work of mission, working towards mutual respect, support and cooperation in the spirit of our Lord’s prayer for His Church in John 17.
To achieve this goal the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative is committed to encouraging members of its two traditions to: pray for each other and study Scripture together; encourage mutual understanding, respect and appreciation of one another’s tradition and practice; promote collaboration in mission wherever this is possible; build short-term and long-term mission partnerships; and facilitate the exchange and sharing of resources for mission.
St. Vlash Monastery
6 September 2013