Relationships between Evangelicals and Orthodox engaged in mission have not always been positive, but the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative is working towards increased mutual understanding and a healing of wounds, in order to collaborate more effectively in God’s mission. Sixty senior church and mission leaders, ecumenists and theologians from many parts of the world came together for the initiative’s second consultation. Gathering from 15-19 September at the Orthodox monastery of St Vlash in Albania, and hosted by His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios and the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, the consultation was chaired by Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church and Mrs Grace Mathews of the Lausanne Movement.
Topics explored included conversion and spiritual transformation, the relationship between ecclesiology and mission, and ethical evangelism and proselytism. Participants reported on how the two traditions have already found ways of collaborating in mission in various parts of the world. A youth event brought together some of the nation’s Orthodox and Evangelical young people. In Tirana, consultation participants were received by Archbishop Anastasios at the Orthodox Cathedral, attended a meeting of the Albanian Evangelical Brotherhood (VUSH), and visited a local evangelical church, hearing in each place of the resurrection of the country’s Christian community.
The monastery’s welcoming hospitality provided a context for participants, half of whom had not been at the first consultation, to develop contacts with a view to building solid relationships. A remarkable sense of unity was evident, even when discussing contentious issues. Over time, relationships forged at these consultations should foster mutual respect and co-operation in the missionary task of our respective Christian traditions.
The ongoing work of the Lausanne-Orthodox Initiative can be followed at www.loimission.net