Bp. Paul Hewett writes about their “Diplomatic Mission to Constantinople and Athens”

by the Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett, SSC
Diocese of the Holy Cross

From 20 – 30 October our delegation was in Turkey and Greece: Archdcn. Jay Boccabello, Mara Protopapa Brockbank (both of St. Philip´s, Charleston, South Carolina) Fr. Thomas Monnat (St. Patrick´s Chapel, Ardmore, Pennsylvania), Fr. John Sharpe (Christ Church, Southern Pines, North Carolina) and myself. Fr. Monnat writes that the trip was “part religious diplomacy, part cultural discovery and the rest sheer wonder. Living for ten days on the edge of both Europe and Asia was a most Constantinopleexhilarating experience.” The centerpiece of our time in Constantinople (Istanbul) was a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, a “truly gracious and humble man.” Our visit with him was enlightening and humbling. Our times with various clergy and laity allowed us to learn how to proceed as friends in Christ. We built a basis for a relationship and threaded a needle.

Our visits also included a Vespers in Constantinople for the Vigil of St. James, a consecration of a Roman Catholic bishop in Athens, a Sunday Liturgy at St. Demetrios for their Patronal Festival, and various lunches, receptions and meetings.

We are now sharing with the Greeks where we are in the global realignment of Anglicanism, giving them a handle on this, as it were. They want to know who we are, where we are, how many we are, and with whom we are in fellowship or dialogue. We can work toward making our ecclesial structures in the U.S. accessible and acceptable to the Greeks. We can meet with clergy and laity visiting from Greece, and invite them, and Greek Orthodox in the U.S., to our significant meetings and congresses. In addition to all this, there are meetings hosted by the Greek Orthodox in the U.S. and overseas that we can attend. I plan to attend the next gathering of the Society of the Law of the Eastern Churches in Thessaloniki, September, 2015.

Father Monnat writes, “My thought after coming home was that both Anglicans and Orthodox are engaged in a massive struggle against materialism, neo-paganism, Islamic encroachment and cultural disintegration. This is as true in Europe as it is here. Could we not think of ourselves as units in a single army of God – striving together, each with his own identity and witness – to take back territory in advance of the Lord’s return? This is – I think, rather like Mara Brockbank´s “two lungs” metaphor. The adversary is Satan and his minions. I agree that we must be more clear about our identity (or rather about articulating it) but we are in this end times battle together. We certainly need our Orthodox brethren, and they need us to carry the fight where we are, even in our admittedly wounded condition.”

Fr. John Sharpe concludes, “Our conversations and our meetings with the church representatives we saw were filled with good will and promises of possibilities.”

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