for the 17th Plenary Session
of the Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue
between the Lutheran World Federation
and the Orthodox Church
Nicosia, Cyrpus 7-13 December 2016
The Preparatory Committee for the 17th Plenary Session of the Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Orthodox Church was held from 7 to 13 December 2016 in the Apostolic island of Cyprus, which still faces the division of the country since 1974. The meeting was hosted by His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, under the auspices of His Eminence Metropolitan Isaias of Tamassos and Oreini, and took place in Nicosia.
The preparatory meeting, co-chaired by Bishop Prof. Dr Christoph Klein and H. E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima, discussed the overall theme of Ministry/Priesthood in light of the following sub-themes: a) Biblical foundations of Ordained Ministry/Priesthood in Orthodox and in Lutheran traditions, b) The Ordained Ministry/Priesthood in the Early Church, in the Ecumenical Councils and in the Medieval Church tradition, c) The Relationship between the Royal Priesthood and the Ordained Ministry/Priesthood and d) Episcopate and Apostolic Succession. The Committee heard presentations concerning the above-mentioned topics by Rev. Prof. Jeffrey Silcock, Prof. Kenneth G. Appold, Rev. Prof. Stephanie Dietrich, Rev. Heidi Zitting, the V. Rev. Prof. George Dion Dragas, V. Rev. Prof. Valentin Vassechko, Prof. Christos Voulgaris and Mr. Nathan Hoppe.
Discussions on papers reflecting these themes identified areas of agreement between the two traditions. A considerable number of open questions and differences still need further discussion. In addition, discussions were made on the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, that will take place next year on the framework of the 17th Plenary Session of the Joint Commission between the Lutheran World Federation and the Orthodox Church.
On Sunday, 11 December, the members of the Committee attended the Divine Liturgy at the Annex (Metochion) of the Kykkos Monastery. A reception followed at the Bishopric Residence of H. E. Metropolitan Isaias of Tamassos and Oreini, where the co-Presidents expressed their gratitude for the generous hospitality extended. The participants also visited the Monastery of Saint Heraklidios.
The Committee members learned about the life and witness of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus and enjoyed the warm hospitality of the local Church. They had the opportunity to visit the church of the Mother of God the Theotokos (Panaghia Angeloktisti) and the tomb of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca and experience the history and the kindness of the Cypriot people. They also attended the Christmas Charity event of the Metropolitanate of Tamassos and Oreini at the Mall of Engomi and visited the Archaeological Museum of Nicosia.
On Monday, 12 December, the members of the Preparatory Committee paid a visit both to the Archbishop Makarios III Cultural Foundation and to the Cathedral of Saint John the Chrysostom at the Archbishopric of Cyprus, and were welcomed by Archbishop Chrysostomos II who offered an official lunch. Metropolitan Gennadios and Bishop Klein thanked him, on behalf of the participants, for the great hospitality expressed in many ways and several times and informed him about the work of the Dialogue.
The Lutheran World Federation was represented by: Bishop Prof. Dr Christoph Klein (co-President), Romania; Prof. Dr. Jeffrey Silcock, Australia; Prof. Dr Kenneth G. Appold, USA; Rev. Dr Jennifer Wasmuth, Germany; Rev. Prof. Stephanie Dietrich, Norway; Rev. Heidi Zitting, Finland; and Rev. Dr Kaisamari Hintikka (co-secretary), Finland/Switzerland.
The Orthodox Church was represented by: H. E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima (co-President), Ecumenical Patriarchate; the V. Rev. Protopresbyter Prof. Dr George Dion Dragas, Patriarchate of Jerusalem; the V. Rev. Dr Valentin Vassechko, Patriarchate of Moscow; the V. Rev. Protopresbyter Prof. Dr George Zviadadze, Patriarchate of Georgia; H. E. Metropolitan Dr Isaias of Tamassos and Oreini, Church of Cyprus; Prof. Dr Christos Voulgaris, Church of Greece; Mr. Nathan Hoppe, Church of Albania; Prof. Dr Konstantinos Delikostantis, Ecumenical Patriarchate (consultant); Prof. Dr Nikolaos Nikolaides, Church of Cyrpus (consultant); Rev. Stefanos Chrysanthou, Church of Cyprus (consultant); and the V. Rev. Second Patriarchal Deacon Dr Theodoros Meimaris (co-secretary), Ecumenical Patriarchate.
It was decided that the 17th Plenary Session of the Joint Commission, hosted by the Lutheran World Federation, will be held in Helsinki, Finland, between 7-14 November 2017, dealing with the already produced Draft Statement of Rhodes (2015), as it was enriched and modified by the Preparatory Meeting of Nicosia (2016).
Nicosia, 12 December 2016.