Lutheran-Evangelical Churches

Preparatory meeting for the 15th session of the Orthodox-Lutheran joint International Commission. Iceland, 4-9 May 2009. COMMUNIQUE.

In preparation for the 15th session of the Orthodox-Lutheran Joint International Commission, the Preparatory Committee met in Skálholt and Reykjavik, Iceland, from 4-9 May 2009. This meeting begins a new phase in the work of this Commission, which will celebrate its thirtieth anniversary at its next plenary session in 2011.

At its 14th Plenary Joint Commission meeting in Paphos, Cyprus, in June 2008, the Commission selected as the topic for its next plenary, "The Mystery of the Church, E: Nature and Attributes of the Church."  The meeting in Iceland was to explore these issues and to prepare a draft for the next plenary session.

From the Orthodox Church at this meeting were:H. E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr. Gennadios of Sassima (Co-President); Prof. Dr. Konstantinos Delikostantis (Consultant) and V. Rev. Deacon Theodoros Meimaris (Co-Secretary), (Ecumenical Patriarchate); V. Rev. Protopresbyter Prof. Dr. George Dion Dragas (Patriarchate of Jerusalem); V. Rev. Archimandrite Dr. Cyril Hovorun (Patriarchate of Moscow); V. Rev. Prof. Dr. Viorel Ionita (Patriarchate of Romania); Prof. Dr. Christos Voulgaris (Church of Greece); Dr. Nathan Hoppe (Church of Albania). Representing the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) : Bishop Donald McCoid (Co-President), United States of America; Prof. Dr. Kenneth G. Appold, United States of America; Rev. Dr. Stephanie Dietrich, Norway; Rev. Prof. Dr. Risto Saarinen, Finland; Rev. Prof. Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, (Consultant), France; Prof. Dr. Kathryn L. Johnson (LWF/Co-Secretary), Switzerland. 

First the Committee discussed "The Nature of the Church," with papers presented by
Dr. Nathan Hoppe and by Prof. Dr. Kenneth Appold. Attention then turned to "Attributes and Marks of the Church," introduced by papers from Prof. Dr. Risto Saarinen and by Prof. Dr. Konstantinos Delikostantis.

Discussion of these papers identified broad areas of agreement between the two traditions on these topics and also a number of open questions and differences. A Statement was drafted which will help the plenary meeting in 2011.  In this draft Statement the Committee discussed the nature of the Church and each of the four Nicea-Constantinopolitan attributes from a Lutheran and an Orthodox understanding.

The group met first in Skálholt, which was the center of Christian life in Iceland from the eleventh to the eighteenth centuries and is now a retreat and conference center of the Church of Iceland. The Rector, Rev. Kristinn Ólason, welcomed the group, and participants attended morning and evening prayer in the Cathedral of Skálholt. Participants expressed their thanks for the hospitality extended by the staff of Skálholt and the quiet beauty of the setting.

For the last days of the meeting, the group traveled to Reykjavik, by way of the Geysir area and the Gullfoss waterfall, and the sessions were held in the offices of the Church of Iceland. Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson welcomed the participants for an ecumenical reception at his residence, with representatives of various churches in Iceland.

Another preparatory meeting will be hosted by the Orthodox, with these dates planned: 25-31 May 2010.

The next plenary meeting of the whole Commission will be hosted in 2011 by The Lutheran World Federation.

Iceland, 7 May 2009