Monday, June 13, 2016

AECA 2016 AGM

The Anglican and Eastern Churches Association held its Annual General Meeting at St Sava’s Serbian Orthodox Church on Thursday 9th June. The evening began with Vespers, followed by the AGM and dinner.
During the AGM the Chairman of the AECA, Dr Fr William Taylor, the Secretary Janet Laws, the Editor of Koinonia, Fr Stephen Stavrou, the Treasurer, David Powell and the Pilgrimage Secretary, Fr Andrei Petrine presented statements or/ and spoke about the previous year and what they wish to achieve in the coming year for the Association. Following are a number of reports, produced for this AGM, for those who were unable to be present at St Savas.




Chairman’s Report

The past year (2015-16) has been one of much renewed activity in general in work with the Orthodox Churches, and increased activity for me as Chairman of the AECA. I outline below some of the work which I have done:
Incoming Visits: 2015-16 has seen an unusually high level of activity in receiving incoming visits of Heads of Churches/Patriarchs:
Visit of H.H. Catholicos Karekin II. His Holiness came on a brief visit to London in October 2015 accompanying the President of Armenia, for the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Westminster Abbey. Although the Genocide is not recognised by the UK Government (it is by Welsh Assembly), the word was used several times in His Holiness’ address in Westminster Abbey. I worked with the Armenian delegation from meeting the presidential plane to his departure.
Visit of H.A.H. The Ecumenical Patriarch. To mark the publication of the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue’s Buffalo Agreed Statement, In the Image and Likeness of God, His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople paid an official visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury at the beginning of November. I worked with the Nikaean Club, with Lambeth Palace, and with the Archbishop’s International Secretary at Church House in many aspects of the visit.
Visit of H.H. Patriarch John X of Antioch. To mark the creation of the new Diocese for the Church of Antioch in the UK, a visit was planned in November for His Holiness Patriarch John of Antioch. Unfortunately, this visit had to be postponed for medical reasons after the Patriarch suffered an accident, but much planning and work had been done for the visit, including a lunch in the House of Lords, which had to be postponed.
For both visits of the Armenian Catholicos and Patriarch of Antioch, the AECA Committee had budgeted sums for official entertainment of the two Heads of Churches, should it have been needed.  
Representational Work
Nikaean Club Executive Committee. Much of the work of the Nikaean Club (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s club for entertaining his official guests) overlaps with the AECA, especially where Orthodox matters are concerned, so it is important that the AECA has representation on the committee of the Nikaean Club. At present, AECA is well represented, with 3 members of the Executive serving on the Nikaean Club’s – myself [Fr William Taylor], and Frs Stephen Stavrou and Andrei Petrine.
Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission. Together with Fr Stephen Stavrou, I serve on the Anglican Orthodox International Commission. In 2015, it met in Hawarden, Wales, a place which hosts the Gladstone Library, so important for the history relations between The Churches of Armenia and the British Isles. The agreed statement on Christology was published in the course of this meeting, while present work is focused on an agreed statement on the Holy Spirit.
Anglican Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum. I serve on this group, which brings together the Churches of the Anglican and Oriental Orthodox traditions in the UK, and focusses on practical co-operation between our Churches.
Hospitality for our Anglican President, the Bishop of London. The AECA funded a lunch, hosted by the Bishop of London in the House of Lords, to which senior representatives of the Orthodox Churches were invited, and where each spoke about their aspirations for their own work and that of the AECA. This should assist us greatly in the strategic review we plan – (see below).
I am frequently asked to represent the Bishop of London at various Orthodox events (for example, the Installation of Metropolitan Selouan as Bishop for the Antiochian Church in London and arranging hospitality for guests) and in planning meetings – work is in hand for incoming visits of the Heads of churches on 2016, including their Holinesses the Patriarchs of Moscow and Serbia, as well as events of more local significance.
Churches of the Middle East
The Household of HRH the Prince of Wales. HRH the Prince of Wales takes an active interest in the welfare of Middle Eastern Christians, especially in Iraq and Syria. I assisted with the preparations which were made for the Advent reception hosted by His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols and the Prince of Wales, and continue in an ongoing capacity in advising his staff on issues related to Christians of the Middle East.
Advocacy and Justice. I have been asked twice in the last year to testify in immigration tribunals in the cases of Middle Eastern Christians whose applications for asylum have been refused. These is often a deep lack of knowledge in the legal representatives of the Home Office, which can involve weeks and months of preparation of background documents in defence. The last case in which I testified (in Bradford) had a defence case briefing of over 280 pages of evidence.  
Strategic Review
While 2015-16 has been an extremely busy year with ever closer co-operation between the Churches of our different traditions, 2016-17 promises to be even busier, with the AECA taking a more strategic role in taking forward the vitally important work of relations between Anglicans and Orthodox. A major strategic review of our work is planned for the autumn of 2016, of which more anon in the year ahead.



General Secretary’s Report for the Annual General Meeting - 9th June 2016

The Association has had another successful year and its profile has been raised considerably through the improvements to the website and other forms of social media to which Dimitris Salapatas had made a huge contribution, bringing us all up to date, and for which the Committee is very grateful. The regular mailings by post continue, however, for those members of the Association who do not have access to a computer.
The Committee has been in discussion at its recent meetings as to putting past copies of Koinonia on to the website and Elena Stavrou has been undertaking the background work to this project and further updates will be provided in the Autumn.
The Executive Committee has met three times during the year to discuss the Association’s affairs, programme planning and to consider grant applications which have been received. The Treasurer will provide more details informed on the grant applications during his financial report.
The Reception for Orthodox Church Leaders held in October was a great success and attended by more of our Orthodox friends than ever before and earlier this year the Bishop of London, Anglican President of the Association, hosted a lunch in the House of Lords for the senior members of the Orthodox Churches where there was also an opportunity for them to share their thoughts about their own work and how the Association might work with them in the future.
The Annual Constantinople Lecture was given in November by the Bishop of Southwark, Bishop Christopher Chessun, entitled Patriarchy & Dispersion and was once again hosted by the Greek Cathedral of St Sophia. Another successful event and the photographs of the evening are available for all to see on the Association’s website [http://aeca.org.uk/].
The pilgrimage Secretary has given his own report, and Fr Stephen Stavrou, the Editor of Koinonia, having recently changed his full time ministry role, moving to another parish, has sent his apologies for the AGM but has confirmed the next edition of Koinonia will be with all members shortly. He is currently working on this but due to the move of parish this has delayed slightly the edition which would normally go out at Pentecost, but as it is always of such a high standard, it is always worth waiting for.
The current membership stands at 191. At its meeting in January the Committee agreed that in future all subscriptions for the Association would need to be paid by bankers order with effect from the 1st January 2017. This will not only save a lot of time in the processing of cheques, (which will eventually be phased out anyway), but will ensure all subscriptions are paid on the same date, 1st January annually. I have already written to a large number of members who currently pay by cheque, explaining the new pattern, and the remainder of the letters will go out in the coming weeks to ensure members of the Association have plenty of time to set up the arrangement with their bank by the 1st January 2017.
Please continue to encourage new members to the Association, particularly young people.
You will receive separately an excellent report on the Chairman’s work for the Association in the last year and it only remains for me to thank you for your continued support throughout the year.
Janet Laws
General Secretary AECA
June 2016



AGM Report on Koinonia 2016
 
First my apologies to you all for not being present at the AGM due to a family wedding in Scotland this week.
Since this time last year the two issues of Koinonia have included articles on the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide (and as I write Germany is another nation that has just recognised it as such), the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Constantinople Lecture by Bishop Christopher Chessun of Southwark.
Since the launching of the new website it has become possible to put past issues of Koinonia on the website for download and this excellent resource is available to all – although the latest issue is always only available to AECA members.
Another exciting development this year has been the start of a project to digitalise the journals of AECA and various antecedent organisations. Some of the material goes back to the first years of the 20th century and is a fascinating record of ecumenical endeavour and of historical importance. The necessary preparatory work has been undertaken and the journals should be online very soon and accessible via the new website.
I must apologise for the delay in the appearance of the current issue which is chiefly due to my having recently moved to a new parish and home. I am working on it at this time and it will be ready in the very near future.
As Editor, I rely on all of the members of the AECA to help point me towards interesting material for inclusion whether in the form of news and notices, articles long and short, and book and exhibition reviews. Please contact me with any material, and although I cannot guarantee inclusion depending on theme and space, I am always grateful.

Stephen Stavrou, Editor.  

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