Strengthening relationships between LWF and Orthodox Church

LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, together after Vespers at the Stavropegial Monastery of the Life-giving Spring at Baloukli, on Sunday 10 June. Photo: LWF/ A. S. Danielsson
LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, together after Vespers at the Stavropegial Monastery of the Life-giving Spring at Baloukli, on Sunday 10 June. Photo: LWF/ A. S. Danielsson

LWF President Musa and Vice-President Viilma visit Ecumenical Patriarch at The Phanar

(LWI) - The dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Orthodox Church has been ongoing without interruption since 1981. It is entering a new phase which will focus on the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The commitment to this dialogue was reinforced at a meeting of leaders of the LWF with His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at The Phanar (Istanbul) from 8-11 June.

LWF President Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa and LWF Vice-President for Central Eastern Europe Archbishop Urmas Viilma were accompanied by LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge, Secretary for Ecumenical Relations Rev. Anne Burghardt and Head of Communication Rev. Arni Svanur Danielsson.

Strengthening Christian unity

LWF President Musa said the delegation was grateful for the chance to meet with his All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and get to know him. The LWF delegation was made to feel at home. “This was an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the LWF and the Orthodox church.”

This is one of the longest ongoing ecumenical dialogues of the LWF. "There cannot be dialogue unless you have a good dialogue partner, where you are honest with each other, respect each other and hold each other’s integrity. I have a sense that this is what has been holding our dialogue together." Our goal is to strengthen “Christian unity in the body of Christ in different ways, different expressions, recognizing our oneness in Christ, this is the importance of this dialogue.”

There cannot be dialogue unless you have a good dialogue partner, where you are honest with each other, respect each other and hold each other’s integrity. I have a sense that this is what has been holding our dialogue together.
LWF president Archbishop Dr Panti Filibus Musa

Rich orthodox history in the region

The visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate also provided an opportunity to get acquainted first hand with the rich history of the Orthodox Church. Visits to some of the key Byzantine Christian monuments in Istanbul, including the Chora Monastery and Hagia Sophia church offered insight into the life of the Orthodox church through the centuries.

The group also visited the Halki Monastery on the Halki island (Turkish: Heybeliada). It sits atop the Hill of Hope on the second largest of the Princes' islands in the Sea of Marmara. The building used to house the Halki theological school which was located in the same building was closed down in 1971 when the Turkish parliament enacted a law banning private higher education institutions. Halki is now home to a small monastic brotherhood. "The Orthodox Church hopes to re-open the Halki theological seminary, so that it can again nurture the theological education and practice for its clergy. We pray and hope they are successful," said Archbishop Viilma.

Celebrating the name the day of the Ecumenical Patriarch

The LWF delegation was invited to participate in celebrations related to the Feast of St. Bartholomew and St. Barnabas, on 11 June which is the name day of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

This included Vespers on Sunday 10 June at the Stavropegial Monastery of the Life-giving Spring at Baloukli and Divine Liturgy on Monday 11 June at the Patriarchal Church of St. George. His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch officiated at both services which were attended by Orthodox clergy from around the world, official guests and members of the Orthodox community in Istanbul.

The LWF delegation was deeply grateful for the generous hospitality offered during the whole visit and in conjunction with the name day feast of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

 

The Ecumenical Patriarchate