A historic moment occurred when Orthodox representatives of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the Russian Orthodox Church met with ecumenical partners from the Anglican Church of North America (Canada and the U.S.A.) at Nashotah House, October 25-26, 2012. Present was a Bishop of the 160,000,000 member, Russian Orthodox Church, His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, Russia. An Oxford trained scholar (D.Phil.), he had come to Nashotah House, to receive the Doctor of Music (honoris causa), to offer a paper on Johann Sebastian Bach, and to participate in Orthodox/Anglican ecumenical dialogue with the OCA and ACNA.
Metropolitan Hilarion presented a substantial paper summarizing the history of Orthodox/Anglican dialogue. At the end, he stated three areas for ecumenical discussion, the theological, the ecclesiological, and moral theology. Most significantly his Eminence expressed his desire to route ecumenical dialogue with North American Anglicanism through the Anglican Church in North America. Noting concerns about the drift from traditional Christian teaching and morality among some parts of Western Anglicanism, he encouraged the talks going on between the Orthodox Church in North America and the new province of the ACNA. As the basis, he referred to an historic communication from his Patriarch Kirill in 2006 (at the time he was Metropolitan Kirill, the position Hilarion now holds) to Archbishop Duncan and other Episcopal Bishops meeting in Dallas, who were contending for the Faith Once Delivered. Subsequent to this historic communication Archbishop Robert Duncan, along with other Anglican bishops, priests, deacons and laity formed in June, 2009, at St. Vincents Cathedral, Bedford, Texas, the newest Anglican Province, the Anglican Church in North America.
In addition, his Eminence shared his commitment to evangelism. He updated us on the phenomenal growth of the Russian Church from the 1990s when there were just over 6,000 parishes, to the present with 30,000 plus congregations. He told of the reopening of seminaries, cathedrals, monasteries, and other efforts to extend God’s kingdom. Similar to Pope Benedict XVI he shared the large vision to re-evangelize Europe and other Western countries.
The meetings were led by Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (Crestwood, NY), and the Rt. Rev. Ray R. Sutton, Chairman of the Ecumenical Relations Task force of the ACNA. Also present with the Metropolitan was Archpriest Vladimir Shmaliy, who oversees the Department of Theological education for the Moscow Patriarchate. Other ACNA members participating in the dialogue were the Rt. Rev. Richard Lipka, the Rt. Rev. Kevin Allen, Dr. Moheb Ghali, Dr. Michael Howell, the Rt. Rev. Donald Harvey (Canada), the Rev. Dr. Arnold Klukas, and the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman. Fr. John Parker of the Orthodox Church in America also accompanied Fr. Hatfield representing the OCA.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Ray R. Sutton
ACNA, Chairman ERTF
The Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield
Chancellor, St. Vladimir’s Seminary