The Holy Metropolis of Ierapitna and Sitia hosted on September 19-20, 2017 the representatives of the Committee for the Relations of the Orthodox Churches, the Ancient Eastern Churches and the United Bible Societies. The meeting of the committee was held at Hotel “Sunshine” in Koutsounari of Ierapetra where the representatives of the Churches and the Bible Societies discussed issues on the advancement of their relations and cooperation.
In the morning of October 19, just before the opening of the meeting, a Doxology took place at the Church of Savior’s Transfiguration inside the hotel, celebrated by the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Ierapitna and Sitia Kyrillos. The Most Reverend President of the Committee and representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios as well as the members of the Committee were present.
After the completion of the Doxology and at the opening session of the meeting the Most Reverend Bishop of Ierapitna and Sitia wholeheartedly welcomed the participants and briefly referred to the history of its bishopric, that is one of the oldest in the prefecture of Lasithi and among the first ones that were founded on the island of Crete, to the canonical dependence and distinctive relations of the Church of Crete with the Mother Church of Constantinople highlighting at the same time its leading role in the “Ecumenical Movement”, as the first in rank among the Orthodox Churches and the one with primacy in responsibility.
As he highlighted: “both the Hellenic Bible Society, a full member of the global fellowship of the United Bible Societies, and the other Bible Societies of about 200 countries, work having a high sense of accountability in order to provide the Churches with scholarly and theologically reliable biblical translations. They serve the churches through translation, publication, supply and broader dissemination of the Holy Scripture. The most important fact is that they work with the Church in harmony and they do not usurp her mission, as they consider the Church as the major carrier of the divine mission in the world. This cooperation, as well as the largely homogenous stance of the representatives of the Churches and the Bible Societies in the efforts to disseminate the Word of God has only born good fruit not only for the Churches and their relations among the Christians coming from different church traditions, but also for the entire world”. Finally, he wished everyone a pleasant stay, and a successful and fruitful meeting.
The Most Reverend, President and Professor, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios on behalf of the Standing Committee for the cooperation of the Orthodox Church, the Ancient Eastern Churches and the United Bible Societies stated after the completion of the works of meeting: “The work of the Standing Committee for Cooperation and Relations of the Orthodox Churches, the Ancient Eastern Churches and the United Bible Societies was successfully completed today under the hospitality of the Holy Metropolis of Ierapitna and Sitia and especially the Most Reverent Metropolitan Kyrillos on behalf of our Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The purpose of the meeting in Ierapetra was to finalize a memorandum of cooperation that has been under discussion by this Committee for many years and defines the parameters of the relations among the three parties involved, as well as the cooperation regarding the meaning and the importance of the Holy Scripture, the matter of Divine Inspiration, and finally the issue of Bible translation. The United Bible Societies are especially involved with Bible translation, its realization, publication, and dissemination around the world. There are about 150 Bible Societies in 200 countries around the world. There is also the Hellenic Bible Society, that was represented by its President and representative of the Church of Greece, Most Reverend Metropolitan of Dimitriada Ignatios, as well as by its General Secretary Mr. Michalis Chatzigiannis, the Bible Society of Cyprus that was represented by the Bishop of Arsinoi Nektarios, while the representative of the Russian Patriarchate was absent due to prior engagements. We finally concluded that this memorandum of cooperation should be accepted by everyone, by all three parties, after some meeting. This meeting will be a world congress that will take place in Armenia in September of 2018. This memorandum will be presented there so that it will be signed by all members and will ensure the continuation of the cooperation with the United Bible Societies.
The beginning of these relations and cooperation is owed to His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who fifteen years ago accepted this cooperation with the United Bible Societies and called the other Orthodox Churches from around the world to participate. This Committee is the so called “Small” since not all local churches participate but only representatives from the three parties. We wholeheartedly wish to extend a warm thank you to the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Ierapitna and Sitia Kyrillos for the Abrahamic and generous hospitality. All the members of the Committee are pleased by Cretan hospitality and happy to have met everyone here even though the meeting only lasted for two days”.
The members of the Committee, who is presided by each representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, are Archpriests as representatives of the Orthodox Churches among whom are the Professor and Most Reverend Metropolitan of Sasima Gennadios the representative of the Mother Church of Constantinople, the Most Reverend Metropolitan of Dimitrias Ignatios the representative of the Church of Greece and President of the Hellenic Bible Society, the Bishop of Arsinoi Nektarios representative of the Church of Cyprus, Metropolitans and Bishops from the Eastern Orthodox Churches, that is the Coptic, the Armenian, the Jacobite Syrian Church, the Dean of the Faculty of Theology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Mr. Miltiadis Konstantinou, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Bible Society and other representatives of the United Bible Societies.