Syrian Orthodox Church Leader Welcomes Cooperation with Adventists

Metropolitan Gregorios Youhanna Ibrahim (Aleppo) of the Syrian Orthodox Church welcomed the opportunity for greater cooperation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church during a visit to the Adventist World Church Headquarters on July 2. 

"For the Syrian Orthodox Church it is a new day to have a relationship with the Adventist Church. We need to work to develop better relationships between Christians," said Ibrahim, who is metropolitan of Aleppo, Syria, noting that the Syrian Council of Churches has 11 different denominational groups.
Explaining the history of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Ibrahim noted that the Church was frequently persecuted but remains "open," with around 90,000 adherents. The Church still uses Aramaic in its services, the language spoken by Christ.
Responding for the Adventist Church, Gerry Karst, assistant to the president, welcomed the group from Syria, which also included Reverend Fayiz Hunain of the Presbyterian Church in Syria, as well as Razic Syriani, youth director for the Middle East Council of Churches, and Dr. Mekhael Asaad, head of the Ephraim dispensary in Aleppo. "We have looked forward to this meeting for a long time," said Karst, who previously worked in the Middle East. "We hope this friendship will grow as we are brothers in Christ." 

The group has visited Adventist institutions in California, Michigan, and Florida. At the close of the meeting, Metropolitan Ibrahim presented a plaque of the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic, which he also read aloud. [98/22/01] 

Historical Background: The Syrian Orthodox Church 

The Syrian Orthodox Church traces its history to A.D. 37 and holds the traditions of St Peter's work. The church suffered severe persecution during the struggle against Hellenistic domination at the time of the council of Chalcedon, and later through Mongol invasions and Turkish rule. The patriarchate had to be moved several times until it was established in Damascus in this country. Syrian liturgical and theological life flourished until the 13th century but steadily declined afterwards. The monastic movement produced many universally acknowledges saints and contributed enormously to the creation of a rich liturgical tradition. In 1665, the Antiochian church came into contact with the ancient church of St Thomas Christians in India, and the West Syrian liturgy was thus introduced to the Christians in South India. Though the Syrian church is vastly reduced in number because of Muslim domination, it has a considerable diaspora in the US, Australia and Europe. The Syrian Orthodox Church joined the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1961, at the New Delhi assembly.

Quelle: Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, 29.07.1998  [ANN/APD]

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