Welcome Address by Fr. John Chryssavgis

(Istanbul, June 1-3, 2019)
“Theological Formation and Ecological Awareness”

Fr. John Chryssavgis

On behalf of His All-Holiness, I have the great pleasure of welcoming you all – beloved speakers and participants, as well as distinguished guests and journalists – to this opening session of our third Halki Summit. In case you are wondering, we are not meeting on the island of Halki, as in the previous two summits, because the sole hotel there unfortunately closed. But the change gives everyone a chance to experience this spectacular and historical city.

These summits provide an intimate forum and practical platform for focused conversation on specific issues and for dialogue within specific groups. At this summit, we are delighted to host numerous theological institutions and organizations from all over the world – clergy (from the highest ranks) and laity (with the broadest expertize).

We hope that you will help us discern and grapple with ways in which issues – that we care about and really matter to the world – might be engendered from the earliest stages of theological formation and priestly vocation. Otherwise, as we have learned all too painfully, it is much harder to infiltrate, inform, and inspire the members of our parishes and communities in any efficient or effective manner.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the commitment and sacrifice that you – the speakers and participants – made in order to be with us today. All of you have undergone . . . financial and geographical inconvenience. But this is not a PR or recreational exercise. It is a working meeting; which is why the microphones are in front of each one of you. As you have seen, we did our best to reduce paper and plastic consumption for the program, which is available on-line and . . . here; and we decided to avoid use of paper and plastic for name-tags; so the coffee breaks are replacing the name-tags as opportunities for you to become acquainted with one another. During our summit, try also to remember to begin any intervention by clearly stating your name

On behalf of His All-Holiness, I thank you wholeheartedly for accepting our invitation to be here. I know some of you will talk about existing inter-Orthodox programs. It would be helpful for us to create a basic network to support one another’s initiatives and share one another’s resources. Let’s try to keep our ears, minds, and hearts open in order to hear and learn how we can contribute – even in a small way – to the major challenge that lies before us.

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His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the inspiration behind the initial ecological steps taken by his revered predecessor, Patriarch Demetrios. However, His All-Holiness has raised the ecological concern of the church to another level with his resolute commitment to this issue – indeed, often at great personal cost and against persistent criticism. The ecological crisis is not a peripheral or incidental aspect of his consideration and concern. It stems from the very essence of his spiritual and pastoral responsibility and leadership. Without question, at least in my mind, there is no other global church or religious leader, who has ever placed creation care at the very center of his attention and service throughout his tenure – which now counts twenty-nine creative and productive years. This has proved to be a profound influence on so many people in the Orthodox Church and beyond. I know it has had a lasting impact on my own ministry and worldview.

There is no doubt that His Eminence Elder Metropolitan John of Pergamon has long been the bold theological voice behind the ecological vision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate – from the outset of its ecological initiatives and activities in 1989. He has personally attended and addressed every seminar since 1994, every symposium since 1995, and every Halki Summit since 2012. He needs no introduction to anyone in the broader theological, ecological and ecclesiastical worlds. We are honored to have him with us to deliver the keynote address as well as to share his wisdom with us throughout the summit.

It is now my privilege and honor to ask His All-Holiness to officially launch the summit with his opening address.