World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media


3 December 1999

INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE SPECIAL COMMISSION
ON ORTHODOX PARTICIPATION IN THE WCC


The Special Commission on Orthodox participation in the World Council of Churches (WCC) will meet from 6 to 8 December in Morges, on Lac Lman, Switzerland. At its inaugural meeting the Commission will deal chiefly with matters of planning and procedure for the series of its Protestant-Orthodox discussions to be held over the next three years.

Longstanding tensions between Orthodox and Protestants in the WCC surfaced publicly during the preparations for the WCCs eighth assembly in 1998, when the Orthodox churches of Georgia and Bulgaria withdrew from membership in the WCC. The Eastern Orthodox family most recently expressed its dissatisfaction with the present situation in a statement drafted at Thessaloniki, Greece, in May 1998.

Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany. In their statement, the Orthodox churches emphasized their long ecumenical tradition and their strong involvement in the WCC, but complained that the present WCC structures make adequate Orthodox participation difficult. Other points of criticism in the Thessaloniki statement referred to the lack of progress in multilateral theological discussions between Christians, liturgical language used in the WCC and questions concerning the ordination of women and sexual orientation.

In view of the differences that had emerged, it was decided at the eighth assembly in Harare in December 1998 to set up an Orthodox-Protestant Special Commission to consider the Orthodox criticisms and work out possible solutions.

Of the WCCs present 337 member churches, 21 are Orthodox, numerically representing over one third of the Christians belonging to WCC member churches. The Russian Orthodox Church is the WCCs largest member church.

List of participants at the Morges meeting (as at 3 December):

  • Dr Anna Marie Aagaard, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, Denmark
  • Very Rev. Nareg (Manoug) Alemezian, Armenian Apostolic Church (Cilicia), Lebanon
  • Hieromonk Dr Hilarion Alfeyev, Russian Orthodox Church, Russian Federation
  • H.E. Metropolitan Ambrosios of Kalavryta, Church of Greece, Greece
  • Mr George Andriadze, Georgian Orthodox Church, Georgia
  • Mr Andrei Dan Apostu, Orthodox Church in Czech Lands and Slovakia, Czech Republic
  • H.E. Metropolitan Athanasios Papas, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Turkey (Substitute for: H.E. Metropolitan Ambrosius of Oulu)
  • Mr Ramez Attalah, Synod of the Nile of the Evangelical Church, Egypt
  • H.E. Archbishop Aghan Baliozian, Armenian Apostolic Church (Etchmiadzin), Australia
  • H.E. Metroplitan Anba Bishoy of Damiette, Coptic Orthodox Church, Egypt
  • Bishop Gustáv Bölcskei, Reformed Church in Hungary, Hungary
  • Ms Manoushag Boyadjian, Armenian Apostolic Church (Cilicia), Lebanon
  • Mr John Briggs, Baptist Union of Great Britain, United Kingdom
  • H.E. Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Ephesus, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Greece
  • H.E. Metropolitan Chrysostomos Zafiris, Church of Greece, Greece
    (Substitute for H.E. Metropolitan Ambrosius of Kozani)
  • H.G. Bishop Chrystopher of Olomouc and Brno, Orthodox Church in Czech Lands and Slovakia, Czech Republic
  • Rev. Yadessa Daba, Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus, Ethiopia
  • Mr Jean Fischer, National Protestant Church of Geneva, Switzerland
  • Rev. Ying Gao, China Christian Council, China
  • Rev. Fr Dr K.M. George, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, India
  • Bishop Hans Gerny, Old Catholic Church of Switzerland, Switzerland
  • Ms Anne Glynn-Mackoul, Greek Orth. Patr. of Antioch and All the East, United States of America
  • Ms Eden Grace, Society of Friends, United States of America
  • Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Reformed Church in America, United States of America
  • H.E. Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, Syria
  • Fr Mikhael Gundyaev, Russian Orthodox Church, Switzerland
  • Mr Gabriel Habib, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, United States of America
  • Bishop Dr Thomas L. Hoyt Jr, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, United States of America
  • Bishop Voitto Huotari, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Finland
  • H.E. Archbishop Jeremiasz of Wroclaw, Polish Autocephalic Orthodox Church, Poland
  • Ms Jana Kalinová, Czechoslovak Hussite Church, Czech Republic
  • H.G. Bishop Basil Karayiannis of Trimithus, Church of Cyprus, Cyprus
  • The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Orthodox Church in America, United States of America
  • Bishop Dr Rolf Koppe, Evangelical Church of Germany, Germany
  • Dr John Lappas, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, Greece
  • Dr Janice Love, United Methodist Church, United States of America
  • Archbishop Makarios Tillyrides of Zimbabwe, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, Zimbabwe
  • H.G. Abune Mekarios, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopia
  • D. Dr Soritua Nababan, Huria Kristen Batak Protestan, Indonesia
  • H.G. Bishop Dr Nifon of Slobodzia & Calarasi, Romanian Orthodox Church, Romania
  • Dr Mercy A. Oduyoye, Methodist Church of Nigeria, Ghana
  • Archbishop Michael Peers, Anglican Church of Canada, Canada
  • H.E. Metropolitan John Pelushi, Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, Albania
  • Rev. John Phiri, Reformed Church in Zambia, Zambia
  • Dr Agidew Redie, Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Ethiopia
  • Fr Dr Ioan Sauca, Romanian Orthodox Church, Switzerland
    (Substitute for Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Ica, Jr.)
  • Prof. Constantine Scouteris, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, Greece
  • Archpriest David Sharashenidze, Georgian Orthodox Church, Georgia
  • Dr Mary Tanner, Church of England, United Kingdom
  • Bishop Dr Zacharias M. Theophilus, Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, United States of America
  • Very Rev. Dr Georges Tsetsis, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Switzerland
  • Rev. Dr Eugene Turner, Presbyterian Church (USA), United States of America
  • Rev. Dr d'Arcy Wood, Uniting Church in Australia, Australia

Apologies/Absences:

  • Dr Agnes Abuom, Anglican Church of Kenya
  • Bidhop Vinton R. Anderson, African Methodist Episcopal Church (USA)
  • H.E. Metropolitan Aristarchos of Constantine, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem Bulgarian Orthodox Church
  • H.E. Bishop Ignatije of Branicevo, Serbian Orthodox Church
  • H.E. Bishop Irenej of Backa, Serbian Orthodox Church
  • Bishop Dr Christoph Klein, Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania
  • Archbishop N.W.H. Ndungane, Church of the Province of Southern Africa
  • Rev. Ofelia Ortega, Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba
  • Bishop Federico J. Pagura, Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina
  • Rev. Dr Jong-Wha Park, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea
  • Dr George Sabra, Reformed Church/Lebanon
  • Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church/Jerusalem

Guests:

  • Mr Andrei Elisseev, Russian Orthodox Church
  • H.E. Metropolitan Gennadios Limouris of Sassima, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
  • Archimandrite Benedict Ioannou, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople


For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
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The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.