Ayia Napa, Cyprus, March 4, 2011
A week-long inter-Orthodox consultation with the aim of studying the World Council of Churches' document, "The Nature and Mission of the Church," began its work on Thursday, March 3, 2011 here. The aim of the consultation is to offer distinctly Orthodox Christian insights as part of a world-wide discussion of the doctrine of the Church, or "ecclesiology."
The gathering is being hosted by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.
Nearly 40 participants from Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches -- Church leaders, university professors, theologians, men and women, and youth, most of whom are members of the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order -- will discuss the document and produce a common Orthodox response to this important theological text.
His Beatitude, Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, underlined the importance of the theme. “Orthodox theology is primarily ecclesiological,” he said. “Christianity cannot be understood except as the church.... By His incarnation, Christ made all human beings part of His own body. Orthodox contributions to ecumenical theological reflection consist in the fact that Orthodoxy, rather than defending a 'confessional' interpretation of ecclesiology, shares the existential experience of the Church."
The Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, referred to the work of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC a decade ago and stressed the Orthodox contribution to ecclesiological reflection.