Metropolitan participates in Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration

The Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration (PCCC), elected by the central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) following the Busan Assembly (2013), was hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The committee gathered from October 3 to 7, 2015 for their meeting at the Sofia Cultural Center, Helsinki, Finland. Co-moderated by H.E. Metropolitan Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and Bishop Simo Peura, the meeting was well attended by many Christian leaders.

His Grace, Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Metropolitan of the Northeast American Diocese and Dr Abba Haile Mariam Melese Ayenew (Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church), represented the Oriental Orthodox Churches in the meeting.

Other participants included the Rt Rev. Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey (Church of Ceylon, Anglican), Rev. Dr Paul Gardner (Moravian Church in Jamaica), Mrs Anne Glynn-Mackoul (Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East), Rev. Dr Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang (Gereja Toraja), V. Rev. Archimandrite Philaret (Russian Orthodox Church), Prof. Dr Mary-Anne Plaatjies Van Huffel (Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa), and Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, for Bishop Sally Dyck, (United Methodist Church). The members of the Permanent Committee were honored to have been received by Bishop Tapio Luoma, Lutheran bishop of Espoo, and the parish community of the Espoo Cathedral, for a worship service followed by a parish reception on a Sunday of celebration of St Michael the Archangel, of the children of the parish, and of the seventieth anniversary of the church’s kindergarten. The Espoo Cathedral, the oldest building in Espoo, dates from the late fifteenth century.

The committee also visited the famous “Rock Church” in Helsinki, which is popular for its unique architecture and also an active Lutheran parish church. At the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral, the church of the Dormition of the Mother of God in Helsinki, the Rev. Mikko Leistola introduced the committee to the history of the Orthodox community in Helsinki and to the cathedral built there on the city’s highest point. These reflections demonstrated the shared history of the two largest religious communities in Finland.

Members of the committee shared with one another short descriptions of their particular church and local contexts and challenges faced. The tragic situation in Syria and the wider Middle East was described with particular concern. The local Christian churches there are directly affected in many ways, including the displacement of their clergy and faithful, internally and as refugees. The crisis affects many other churches, especially in Europe, where they are engaged in receiving refugees, including persons from all communities. It was noted that church leaders from the region have reiterated their plea over and again, that “protection of Christians of the Middle East means peace to all people of the region.”

In other places, challenges were also described for churches where societies accustomed to inter-religious cooperation had begun to experience increasing levels of inter-religious tension. Religious freedom is an issue of concern for Christians in Indonesia, a country with millions of Christians living among the largest Muslim population in the world.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches.

In 2013, our Diocesan Metropolitan, His Grace Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, was elected to be a central committee member of World Council of Churches.

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