Saturday, 25 August 2018

Dialogue and Relationship for Unity

The first Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos has named respectful dialogue and relationship as key to unity among churches.

The Archbishop spoke on the theme of “Ecumenism: Present and Future" at an event hosted by National Council of Churches in Australia and the NSW Ecumenical Council on 22 August, the day before the World Council of Churches (WCC) celebrated its 70th Anniversary.

Archbishop Angaelos is currently the President of Churches Together in England, a Member of the Central Committee of the WCC, and also had the honour of delivering a blessing to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, at the royal wedding in May.

Speaking to an audience from across the denominational spectrum, the Archbishop acknowledged that ecumenical relationships were not always easy.

“Unity requires respectful dialogue and relationship,” Archbishop Angaelos said. “We must not step over our brothers and sisters of other denominations to get where we want to go.”

He suggested that one simple step we can take is to attend each other’s churches.

He lamented that increasingly we meet our brothers and sisters from other denominations in many other places and spaces, but so rarely attend worship with them

"When there are areas of disagreement between us we should embrace those differences in open and respectful ways."

"We are looked upon by God with eyes of love, forgiveness, grace and reconciliation.

"How in turn should we look upon each other?"

Further, the Archbishop encouraged us to come together wherever there is persecution and injustice across the world.

“We live in nations that allow us to speak”, he said.

“We must stand together to be a voice for these voiceless people, for our silence also speaks, negligence at best, complicity at worst.”

He challenged church members to be aware of the world around us, both within and beyond our own communities and country.

He reminded us of the persecution of Orthodox Christians in the Middle East, Africa and other places, as well as the plight of Muslims and people of other faiths in many regions across the world.

Further, he urged churches to not forget that while we speak out about issues of justice, we must never stop speaking about Christ, about God’s love, forgiveness and justice.

He concluded by challenging the audience.

“Sometimes our ecumenical space looks grey and disinteresting. Ecumenism isn’t about being a formless, tasteless mass, about our lowest common denominator. Instead, we can be a beautiful glass mosaic, each part having its own unique colour and shape, but coming together to make an artwork of great beauty.”