Oriental Orthodox-Reformed Dialogue

 Representatives of the Oriental Orthodox churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) met at St. Ephraim Seminary at the Cloister of Sadnâyâ, Syria, from January 10 to 15, 1999. They were the guests of His Holiness Mar Ignatious Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Atioch and all the East for the Syrian Orthodox Church. This was the fifth dialogue event of its kind, the others having been held in Egypt, The Netherlands, India and the United States. The objective is to nurture the understanding developing between the two traditions.

On the Oriental Orthodox side, representatives were there from the Syrian, Armenian, and Coptic Orthodox churches as well as from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India. On the Reformed side delegates came from the Czech Republic, Germany, India, Scotland, the Middle East and the USA.

The General Secretary of WARC, Dr. Milan Opocensky, observed that these bilateral dialogues were instructive. Echoing what the Syrian Orthodox patriarch has often said, Opocensky said that, while differences are real and may not be minimized, “what connects us, binds us and links us to each other is greater and larger than what separates us.” For his part, the patriarch observed that “we live in an ecumenical era. The ecumenical movement has made real progress in many aspects. But we also know that there are areas which need further progress. The churches are in the process of learning from each other. They are also realizing
 more and more that the divisions are against the will of God.”

Earlier Oriental Orthodox-Reformed discussions had focused on Christology, scripture and tradition, the nature of the Church and its mission. At this meeting the topical focus was on “ministry.” Points of agreement and disagreement were highlighted for subsequent discussion. And the next meeting of this kind will take place in Scotland in the year 2000 when the topic focus will be “the sacraments.”

 Source: Official press release and internal sources

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