Monday, 7 October 2013

Press Release: Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission reconvenes after 10 years

Press Release
For immediate use
7 October 2013

Coptic Orthodox Church UK
Media and Communications Office

Coptic Orthodox Church (Europe)
Media and Communications Office

ACO/ Neil Vigers

After a ten-year postponement, the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission held its second meeting 3-7 October 2013 in England.

The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission met to discuss matters of Christology and the Holy Spirit, and to pray for Egypt, Syria and the wider Middle East during a special service on 5 October 2013. The meeting comes shortly after the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, 118th Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark in Egypt in June of this year.

ACO/ Neil Vigers

His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of The Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, and acting Co-Secretary of the commission this year said:

“Having reconvened after a long postponement, we met with the aim of continuing our good relations and establishing greater unity between our Churches, while still tackling difficult and challenging issues. This has been an opportunity to re-establish a valuable platform for common understanding, leading to a greater witness of solidarity, not only for members of our own Churches but for the wider Christian Church and the whole world, especially our brethren in Egypt, Syria and throughout the Middle East for whom we prayed.”

Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, Co-Chair of the Dialogue said:

“We rejoice that we have met together once more, here in England, and within this Diocese of Guildford. We have gathered to reflect on our common faith in Christ.”

Archbishop Aphrem Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church said:

“What is happening in Syria and the Middle East is the cost we have to pay for our faith. But the whole people of the Middle East, Christians and Muslims are suffering...” 

ACO/ Neil Vigers
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby, who met with members of the consultation on Sunday 6 October 2013, said:

"I am delighted that Anglican and Orthodox Christians will worship together and remember in prayer the very difficult, indeed life-threatening circumstances in which some of the Churches are living.”

The third meeting of the Commission is planned to take place in Cairo, Egypt, in October 2014, hosted by the Coptic Orthodox Church, addressing the themes of ecclesiology, primacy and collegiality, and pastoral co-operation.


The Communiqué below.


The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission has held its second meeting 3-7 October 2013 at St Columba's House, Woking, England. Our Churches rejoice at the resumption of this important dialogue after ten years. 

We greatly appreciate the hospitality offered by the Anglican Communion, the Church of England, and the Diocese of Guildford.

During the course of its meeting the Commission shared in daily prayer from the various traditions represented, and considered and discussed the following papers:

The Procession of the Holy Spirit (Coptic Orthodox presentation)
The Filioque in the Anglican Tradition
The Filioque and Anglican Action
The Filioque and the Armenian Orthodox Tradition
The Draft Agreed Statement on Christology (2002) and its reception

The context in which we have met has been one of continuing concern for the countries in the Middle East in particular, as well as Kenya, Pakistan and Nigeria. Participants felt that Rev 1.9 spoke powerfully to us. ‘I, John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus, persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.’ 

On Saturday 5 October we worshipped in the Coptic Orthodox Church of St Augustine, Gomshall, Surrey. Through this act of worship the members of the Commission, together with local church members, prayed and expressed solidarity with the peoples at the heart of suffering.

At the service, Bishop Angaelos said, 'We gather to remember our brethren in Egypt, Syria, and throughout the Middle East, where many continue to suffer persecution for their Faith. Some suffer even to the extent of losing their lives, yet their faithful witness in the Middle East is a blessing to the whole Church, and to the whole world.’

Bishop Geoffrey Rowell added, ‘We have reflected on our common faith in Christ, and how we speak of Him, and live in Him, by the life-giving work of God's Holy Spirit. We have done that in the deep awareness of the suffering of fellow Christians in Syria, in Egypt, and in many other places. The God whom we worship and adore is the One who comes down to the lowest part of our need.’

On Sunday 6 October members of the Commission were welcomed to the Eucharist at The Chapel Royal, Hampton Court, for its Feast of Dedication, and were joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby. In greeting them Archbishop Justin said, ‘We meet with an urgency and importance to meeting, which is together to seek God’s powerful hand to deliver the people of Christ, who seek only to serve him and serve their people.’ We express our thanks for his presence with us and his encouragement for the work of this dialogue. We are also deeply grateful to his predecessor Dr Rowan Williams for his significant work in reviving this dialogue. 

The Commission shares the joy of the Coptic Orthodox Church at the enthronement of its new Pope and Patriarch, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church at the enthronement of its new Patriarch, His Holiness Abune Matthias I.

The third meeting of the Commission is planned to take place in Cairo, Egypt, in October 2014, hosted by the Coptic Orthodox Church, addressing the themes of ecclesiology, primacy and collegiality, and pastoral co-operation. 

At the conclusion of the dialogue the Commission thanked God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, for the unity that they experienced and shared.

Members of the Commission
The Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell (Co-Chair)                The Church of England
The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson                           The Church of Ireland
The Revd Canon Harold Nahabedian                          The Anglican Church of Canada
The Rt Revd Duleep de Chickera                               The Church of Ceylon
The Revd Canon Dr William Taylor                             The Church of England
The Very Revd Dr Samy Shehata                                           The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
The Rt Revd Jonathan Goodall                                  The Church of England
The Rt Revd Clive Handford                                      The Church of England (Unable to attend the meeting)
The Revd Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Co-Secretary) Anglican Communion Office 

Mr Neil Vigers (Administrator)                                    Anglican Communion Office

Oriental Orthodox
Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy (Co-Chair)             Egypt (Unable to attend the meeting)

His Grace Bishop Angaelos (Acting Co-Secretary)      England
Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church - Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia
His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian              USA

The Very Revd Archimandrite Shahe Ananyan            Armenia

Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church - Holy See of Cilicia, Antelias - Lebanon
His Eminence Archbishop Nareg Alemezian (Acting Co-Chair) Lebanon

His Grace Bishop Shahe Panossian                           Kuwait

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church
His Grace Archbishop Abba Gabriel                          Ethiopia

His Grace Archbishop Abba Yacob                           South Africa

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
The Revd Fr Dr KM George                                       India (Unable to attend the meeting)

Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
His Eminence Archbishop Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim USA
His Eminence Archbishop Mor Gregorios Joseph       India (Unable to attend the meeting)