Saturday, August 20, 2011

Annual Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius

The Annual Conference of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius took place this week (15th-18th of August) in the High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, near London. The theme of the conference was "Priesthood and Ministry". 


In the context of the sometimes difficult path encountered within and between the different Christian traditions, the conference looked at the various ways in which the nature of priesthood, ministry and vocation feature in life, witness and struggle of the Church. The speakers were from both the Anglican and the Orthodox Worlds, from the U.K. and abroad. 


The people attending the conference had a great chance to not only visit the Orthodox Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights but also to attend a lecture by Hieromonk Nicholas Sakharov, giving a monastic view on the theme of the conference.  


Anglican Eucharist, Orthodox Liturgy, a Panikhida (i.e. Orthodox memorial service for the departed members and friends of the Fellowship) and an Anglican Evening Prayer took place during the conference. 


Another interesting moment was when, after Metropolitan Kallistos' lecture, many members of the conference had a chance to visit the Coptic Orthodox Church in Stevenage, where we had the opportunity to meet and speak to Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Church. 


Countless subjects were stressed within this symposium in respect to the priesthood and ministry. What was intriguing to identify was the understanding and acceptance of the different traditions, something not seen in many  Christian Churches and communities.


The speakers spoke in reference to their traditions; however in many cases issues that interest both worlds were stressed, one key issue being the ordination of women. Although the two Churches differ on this matter, and the Anglican Church has various views on this serious issue, it was interesting to acknowledge what the Orthodox believe. Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia stated that there are three views within the Orthodox World concerning the ordination of women:
1. The majority is against it.
2. The Orthodox Church has not yet seen or disgust this matter. It could be considered as an open question. A minority supports this view.
3. An even smaller minority supports the ordination of women.
It is interesting to see that Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon and the Ecumenical Patriarchate have been very cautious on this matter, as Metropolitan Kallistos specified. 


Interesting questions should eventually be answered by a future Panorthodox Synod when, or more realistically IF it ever takes place, such as "can't a woman represent Him?" and " what is the theological significance of Christ's maleness?".


I would like to thank Fr. Stephen Platt who is the General Secretary of the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius for organising this interesting and successful conference. 


Lets hope that conferences and meetings like this one continue and prevail within the Christian World, emphasising the importance of Christianity within an ongoing secular and materialistic world. 

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for offering us this report of the very interesting -as always- Fellowship Conference. Metropolitan Kallistos' presence, talk and theological views were -I am sure- of the highest points at that Conference.

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  2. Metropolitan Kallistos may be personally interested in the ordination of women to the holy Priesthood, to appease the Anglicans, but the rest of the Orthodox have no interest in the topic and see it as schismatic if not heretical. It would be interesting to imagine the reaction the Metropolitan might get from the fathers on Mount Athos, for instance, if he promoted his views there. One has to be honest and say that the FSAS is an irrelevance in the Orthodox world and given the recent drift to liberalism in the Church of England, it is an irrelevance there also.

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  3. @ Anonymous, I have to say that Metropolitan Kallistos did not favour the ordination of women in his lecture, however he did express the view that there are no solid facts, even within Patristic Theology, that oppose it. It is an interesting view, if you think about it, since it is a reality within the Orthodox World. I would put this topic under the so called Theologoumena, i.e. the topics not dogmatised and which we can have a different view on, until of course they become dogma, if ever that happens.
    Your point regarding the monks on Mount Athos I will have to remind you that there is no infallibility within Orthodoxy, and we have seen in the past that many things practised and believed within Mount Athos do not apply to other regions and Orthodox Churches.
    I do not believe that there is a movement of liberalism within the Orthodox World. What does exist and has always existed is "Explanation". The Greek Fathers began explaining Scripture and Tradition and so the new theologians of our time are following their footsteps.
    However if you agree or disagree with Metropolitan Kallistos, it is imperative you understand that this issue, together with other issues will have to be dealt with in the future, whether it is discussed in the future Panorthodox Synod (if it ever takes place) or in local Synods. And when a decision is taken it needs to be justified and argued in order for it to be credible.

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  4. All I shall add is that the ordination of women priests has caused and is continuing to cause an irreversible schism in Anglicanism and untold suffering to faithful Anglicans loyal to the proper tradition of their Church who are unable to accept it.

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  5. I will agree with you on that, since I hear many Anglicans complaining about this important issue. That is why the Orthodox Churches should see this as an example and be careful with what they decide in the future.

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  6. The Orthodox Church will simply dismiss any idea of ordaining women. Full stop.

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  7. That is what I believe will eventually happen! However it will have to justify its position and talk about it. A justifiable argument should be given, I believe. Nevertheless I don't see the ordination of women taking place. What I do see happening, as Metropolitan Kallistos pointed out was the revival of the diakonisses.

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