Rev. Dr. John Chrissavgis Lectures On Holy And Great Council

Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis

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The Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Throne, delivered a special lecture on the forthcoming historically significant Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church on Friday, February 19 at the 25th Annual Leadership 100 Conference. 

Dr. Chryssavgis, who also serves as theological consultant in the Office of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations, spoke on the subject: “Toward the Holy and Great Council: Personal Reflections of the Forthcoming Historical Assembly in Crete”. The Holy and Great Council, the first such assembly in 1,200 years, was originally to take place at the Church of Haghia Irene in Istanbul, but political developments stemming from Syria’s four-year civil war necessitated a change of venue to the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Kolympari of Chania, Crete, from June 16 to 27 in 2016.

In confirming the decision to move the event, the Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches, meeting at the invitation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at Chambesy, Switzerland, January 21 to 26, 2016, finalized the texts for the Council. The items officially approved for referral to and adoption by the Holy and Great Council are: The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World, The Orthodox Diaspora, Autonomy and its Manner of Proclamation, The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments, The Significance of Fasting and its Application Today, and Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World.

The Holy and Great Council has been on the table for discussion and preparation since 1961, although there were earlier proposals for such a council in the 1920s and 1930s, according to Dr. Chryssavgis. It will be the first time ever that representatives from all fourteen independent Orthodox Churches have gathered. Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops from the fourteen so-called autocephalous Orthodox Churches, including those for all the ancient Patriarchates except Rome, will attend. Decision-making is by consensus, rather than by the imposition of any one Church leader.

Dr. Chryssavgis was born in Australia and received his degree in Theology from the University of Athens. He completed his doctoral studies at the University of Oxford. He co-founded St. Andrew’s Theological College in Sydney, where he served as Sub-Dean and taught Patristics. He also taught as Professor of Theology at Holy Cross School of Theology in the United States and directed the Religious Studies Program at Hellenic College. The author of numerous publications, he edited the three-volume series of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s collected works. His other publications include Dialogue of Love: Breaking the Silence of Centuries and Primacy in the Church: The Office of Primate and the Authority of Councils.

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