Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
Happy New Year to all our supporters and friends!
I had the privilege of representing Orthodox Christian Laity at the Inaugural Conference of the International Orthodox Theological Association (IOTA). The meeting was entitled “Pan-Orthodox Unity and Conciliarity.” It took place in the City of International Orthodox Academic Dialogue, Iasi, Romania, from January 9-12, 2019. What a prayerful and positive way to start the New Year!
Over 470 Orthodox theologians, clergy, professionals and ecumenical observers participated, representing 40 countries. About 73 workshops were offered by at least 300 presenters. It has been called the largest gathering of Orthodox theologians and heads of Orthodox Christian organizations ever assembled. Most of the presenters from all over the world were younger than I expected, 40 something, and they came from countries that were not traditionally Orthodox Christian. As one of the senior participants, I left energized, uplifted and optimistic for the future of World Orthodox Christianity. My prayer is that the hierarchy call upon and use the talents of these well-educated, multi-talented professionals. If we can work in synergy with each other, the Great Commission of Christ will be fulfilled.
When the Holy and Great Council concluded in 2015, a group of faithful laypersons thought that there is a need for Orthodox Christians to communicate with each other about the Unity and Conciliarity of our Church. Everyone was delighted that the Holy and Great Council took place and that the bishops met to discuss 6 items on their agenda. It took 100 years to convene the Council and to prepare the agenda. This meeting is historic, and the dialogue and protocols developed are noteworthy. But faithful laypersons believe that we cannot wait another 100 years to meet and discuss issues relative to living Christian lives in a post Christian world. We must all communicate with each other.
A committee of approximately 25 people from around the world met about 2 years ago in Jerusalem to organize the First Pan-Orthodox Conference. Many people worked long and hard to make this meeting a success. The meeting stayed focused because of the indefatigable efforts of Dr. Paul I. Gavrilyuk, founding President of IOTA and a Professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, where he holds the Aquinas Chair in Theology and Philosophy. He specializes in Greek patristics, modern Orthodox theology, and philosophy of religion. He was ably assisted by Dr. Gayle Woloschak, IOTA Vice President, and Dr. Carrie Frederick Frost, IOTA Secretary. These three made the ship sail and stay on course. We are grateful and rewarded by their work.
The success of the meeting also is attributed to the support offered by the Metropolis of Iasi and Metropolitan Teofan of Moldova and Bucovina. No one attending this meeting was a stranger. We felt at home because of the Christian hospitality and love extended to us everywhere we went. The Cathedral where we venerated the relics of St. Parascheva, other churches, hotels, civic centers, the National Theatre, universities, libraries, museums, monasteries the Chancery and Residence of the Metropolitan were on our itinerary and at our disposal. We were met with hospitality everywhere. His Beatitude, Patriarch Daniel sent a greeting and message from Bucharest.
This was a meeting of a lifetime. Check the IOTA web site (https://iota-web.org/). Plans are being made for the second meeting to take place in four years. Become a supporter. IOTA is not an organization of only theologians but also welcomes members of Orthodox Christian organizations. Consider joining.
If you live in the greater Detroit area, you can listen live to a radio interview conducted by Father Dimitrie Vincent and myself about the IOTA Meeting. The interview will air on Detroit’s Own Orthodox Radio (DOOR) on Sunday, February 3, 2019, on WNZK 690 AM from 4 to 5 PM. Thereafter, it will be available online on DOOR’s website (https://doorradio.org/) under the “Podcast Archive” button on the right side of the page (https://doorradio.org/doorpodcast.html).
George Matsoukas, Executive Director