Ecumenism

Update (11/20) It’s now been a month, and apparently after a “couple of days”, the webmaster of SVOTS has obviously returned, but not to put up the infamous “covenant partnership”. What does that tell us?

NFTU has received a polite response from Fr Chad Hatfield, the chancellor of St Vladimir’s Seminary concerning the contents of the Nashotah House meeting. While we have no reason to question the integrity of the response, the response has left us scratching our heads. Apparently the “Covenant Partnership” (which Fr Chad refers to as a concordat) has something to do with the old “Fellowship of Sts Alban and Sergius”, an early ecumenical organization between Orthodox and Anglicans. What that something is, however, we don’t know. As always, we’ll keep our readers posted.

Father Chad’s response to NFTU was as follows.

Dear Subdeacon Joseph,

Blessings. I am familiar with NFTU. Thank you for your interest in the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Glorification of St. Tikhon Conference that was held recently at Nashotah House.

Archdeacon Kirill was in the Georgian delegation with His Beatitude, Jonah, and since he is our IT Director at SVS are running a bit slow in getting our website updated. I would like for the concordat between the two seminaries, pledging to record the history of the Anglican/Orthodox Dialogue since 1862 [edited: Fr Chad indicated he meant 1862, not 1962 as originally written] on Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius model, to first be posted on our own site. Hopefully it will be up in a couple of days on the Archdeacon is caught up from his trip to Georgia.

In Christ,

Archpriest Chad

We’ve responded with the following:

Dear Father Chad:

Thank you very much for your kind and prompt response. I will put it online shortly. As well, I am also grateful for the additional information given concerning the contents of the document. Since we are waiting on Archdeacon Kirill, I assume this will be at least a couple of days.

I am a little confused by what you mean by recording “the history of the Anglican/Orthodox Dialogue since 1862 on Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius model”. I personally know little of this community but have read a bit. For a traditionalist, looking at their current website is extremely disheartening. In the Fellowship’s current (as of 10/19 New Style) “About Us” page, we find the following (I really do have a question, which will follow the quote):

“The conferences at St Albans broke ground in a number of areas. First, they provided an opportunity for informal contact and the fostering of friendships between Christians of different traditions. Secondly, an opportunity was found for common worship, something not experienced previously, and in fact regarded with great suspicion by many Orthodox mindful of their canons prohibiting ‘prayer with heretics and schismatics’. The daring decision was made to hold a daily celebration of the Eucharist, alternating between Orthodox and Anglican rites. There was no intercommunion, but the liturgy was offered each day on the same altar, and this was seen to provide a symbolic focus for the hope of future full eucharistic unity.In this light, the conferences of 1927 and 1928 can be considered ground-breaking for their time. Both annual conferences and alternating Orthodox and Western celebrations of the Eucharist have remained features of the life of the Fellowship up to the present day….In the years following World War Two, a house was acquired in Ladbroke Grove, London W11 to serve as a permanent base and headquarters. A library was established for the use of Fellowship members, and an Orthodox chapel was opened in the house, dedicated, like the house, to St Basil the Great. The chapel, opened by Metropolitan Germanos of Thyateira, was to serve as the spiritual centre of the Fellowship for the next forty-five years. Uniquely for an Orthodox place of worship, the chapel contained an Anglican altar, outside the Orthodox sanctuary, so that both Anglican and Orthodox eucahristic celebrations might be possible there….The question of involvement of the various denominations within Christianity in ecumenical work is, itself, not an easy one. Officially, until relatively recently, Roman Catholics were forbidden to take part in acts of worship with non-Catholic groups. Similarly, Orthodox canon law forbids ‘prayer with heretics and schismatics’. One might, of course, argue what constitutes a heretic or a schismatic, but one might also have the boldness to say that, like other canons, this one has outlived its purpose in a world where common prayer and unity as Christians are of paramount importance. It is no longer really possible to pretend that we, in the western world, live in Christian societies.”

Does this mean the concordat (to use your words) is simply the creation of a document for a historical register? Or that the dialogue between the seminaries of the ACNA and the OCA shall follow the Fellowship’s model?

In Christ,
Subdeacon Joseph Suaiden
St Eulalia Orthodox Mission, Bronx NY

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