Monday, June 30, 2014

World Council of Churches

Many ask to know what the World Council of Churches truly is, what it stands for, whether it goes against canon law etc. A more political understanding claims that, since every aspect of modern life promotes communication, whether it is through the internet, the phone, or in general the globalised way in which our lives currently function. The Church, or Churches could not stay away from this modern communion between people of different backgrounds. Here, the objective and the identity of the WCC is given, as promoted by the WCC itself:

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ. It seeks to advance towards this unity, as Jesus prayed for his followers, "so that the world may believe." (John 17:21)
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity.
The WCC brings together 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.
For its member churches, the WCC is a unique space: one in which they can reflect, speak, act, worship and work together, challenge and support each other, share and debate with each other. As members of this fellowship, WCC member churches: 
  • are called to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship;
  • promote their common witness in work for mission and evangelism;
  • engage in Christian service by serving human need, breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace, and upholding the integrity of creation; and
  • foster renewal in unity, worship, mission and service.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Unity or Union?

The Orthodox Church does not follow the Anglican belief, i.e. the branch theory. Its ecclesiology states that Orthodoxy is the ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church’, as expressed within the Creed. Following, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos, (in his book The Mind of the Orthodox Church), explains his belief in regards to the terms ‘unity and union’, which are vastly used today within the Ecumenical Movement.

“It is true that today there are people who speak of the union of the Churches. But this term is worthless theologically. We cannot speak of union, but of unity of faith. We cannot speak of Churches which are separated and struggling to reach the truth and union, but about the Church which is always united with Christ and has never lost the truth, and about people who have broken away from it”. (p. 55)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stone of the Couple, Cyprus

The Stone of the Couple is located in a small, beautiful village in Cyprus, called Kakopetria. This stone, according to the local legend, has crushed to death a newlywed couple. Following an old custom the newlyweds were performing the ceremonial round of the stone. This legend and the temple of a Goddess excavated at the area of Aelades refer us to the worship of Aphrodite in Cyprus. During the excavations of her temple at Palepaphos in 1888 a conical baityl (sacred stone of the Goddess) was found and is today displayed in the Nicosia Archaeological Museum. Many pagan customs continued to be practiced by Cypriots after the predominance of Christianity and a few until our days.  

Friday, June 27, 2014

St Theofilos, Zakynthos

St Theofilos was born in Zakynthos in 1617 AD. He was a beautiful and strong young man. Working in the navy, he did not wish to work on a Turkish ship. (During this period Greece was under Ottoman Rule – 1453-1821). Going against the Turkish captain, who defamed him for not wearing the Turkish turban on his head, he was lead to the judge, where they tried, with kindness and threats to make him leave Christianity and become a Muslim. Stating his belief in Jesus Christ, he was circumcised with force from the Turks, who wished to send him as a present to the Sultan’s Palace.

When Theofilos was in Chios, he managed to escape to Samos, where he stayed for a long time. When he returned to the island of Chios, the Turks recognised him and took him in front of the local judge. The judge, seeing that the young Theofilos persists on being a Christian, he condemned him to death by fire. Theofilos, hearing this news, he did the sign of the cross and said ‘to you my Christ I give my soul’ and walked by himself in the fire, giving his life for his belief on the 24th July 1653 AD.
The remaining relics were bought by Christians and placed in the Church of St George in Chios. However, his is also greatly remembered and venerated in Zante, where he was born, especially in the Church of Panagia Faneromeni, since he lived right behind that Church.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Southwark Cathedral

The first church on the exact sight where the current Southwark Cathedral is located, just south of London Bridge and the River Thames (near the Shard – the tallest building in Western Europe), is believed to have been in the 7th century. It is alleged that it was a community of nuns. In 1106, the church was founded by two Norman knights as a priory, living according to the rule of St Augustine of Hippo, dedicated to St Mary and later known as St Mary Overy ('over the river'). 

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the last six canons were pensioned off, although they continued to live in buildings north of the church. The church itself became the property of King Henry VIII who rented it to the congregation. It was re-named St Saviour's, though the old name remained in popular usage for many years.
Tired of renting their church for worship, a group of merchants from the congregation, known as 'the Bargainers', bought the church from King James I in 1611 for £800. By this time the large parish church served a very colourful area, not only of merchants and minor courtiers, but also actors, foreign craftsmen, and the ladies from the Bankside brothels.

The church ministered to its parish throughout the 16th and 17th centuries and various repairs and alterations were made to the building. St Saviour's church became Southwark Cathedral in 1905. The diocese which it serves stretches from the Thames to Gatwick Airport, from Thamesmead in the east almost to Thames Ditton in the west. It has a population of two and a half million people, served by over 300 parishes.
Now, as a Cathedral, Southwark is once again (as in monastic days) a centre for a pattern of daily worship within the English cathedral music tradition. In addition to holding five services a day all year round, the Cathedral provides services for diverse diocesan groups varying in size and style of worship.

This is a fabulous church, depicting the beauty and richness of English ecclesiastical architecture. One of the interesting depictions within the cathedral is a beautiful map of Zimbabwe. This map welcomes rich and poor, powerful and weak, and people from near and far; Southwark Cathedral has a particular link with the Anglican Diocese of Masvingo in Zimbabwe. This map incorporates earth and materials from the country.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The first attempts of forming a list of the wonders of the world were comprised by Greeks. Herodotus, who is known as the father of history, was a Greek who took great pride in the wonders that were constructed by his civilization. However, hearing about the Great Pyramid of Khufu, he travelled to Egypt in order to see the colossal monument. Upon arrival, he stood amazed at the architectural beauty of the pyramid and later resolved to create a list of wonders.
The first list was actually completed by a man known as Philos of Byzantium. Nevertheless, many did not accept his list, considering it to be more of a tourist guide. As time progressed, a number of men formed many different lists through the ages. After a certain time, however, an accepted list was created, comprising of 7 wonders.

The Pyramids of Egypt
A group of three pyramids, Khufu, Khafra, andMenkaura located at Giza, Egypt, outside modern Cairo, is often called the first wonder of the world. The largest pyramid, built by Khufu (Cheops), a king of the fourth dynasty, had an original estimated height of 482 feet (now approximately 450 feet). The base has sides 755 feet long. It contains 2,300,000 blocks. The average weight of each block is 2.5 tons. Estimated date of construction is 2680 B.C. Of all the Ancient Wonders, the pyramids is the only one still standing.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Often listed as the second wonder, these gardens, which were located south of Baghdad, Iraq, were supposedly built by Nebuchadnezzar around 600B.C. to please his queen, Amuhia. They are also associated with the mythical Assyrian queen, Semiramis. Archeologists think that the gardens were laid out atop a vaulted building, with provisions for raising water. The terraces were said to rise from 75 to 300 feet.

Statue of Zeus (Jupiter) at Olympia
Phidias (fifth century B.C.) built this 40-foot high statue in gold and ivory. All trace of it is lost, except for reproductions on coins. It was located in Olympia, Greece.
Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus
The temple was a beautiful marble structure, begun about 350 B.C., in honor of the goddess Artemis. The temple, with Ionic columns 60 feet high, was destroyed by invading Goths in A.D. 262. It was located in Ephesus, Turkey.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
This famous monument was erected in Bodium, Turkey, by Queen Artemisia in memory of her husband, King Mausolus of Caria in Asia Minor, who died in 353 B.C. Some remains of the structure are in the British Museum. This shrine is the source of the modern word “mausoleum,” which is a large above-ground tomb.
Colossus at Rhodes
This bronze statue of Helios (Apollo), about 105 feet high, was the work of the sculptor Chares. He worked on the statue for 12 years, finishing it in 280B.C. It was destroyed during an earthquake in 224B.C. Rhodes is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea.
Pharos of Alexandria
The seventh wonder was the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria. Sostratus of Cnidus built the Pharos during the third century B.C. on the island of Pharos off the coast of Egypt. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the thirteenth century.