This morning, the National Council of Churches held an ecumenical reception for His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Simpson Chapel in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill.
Below is a photo diary documenting the historic visit with NCC leaders and ecumenical partners.
His All-Holiness; The Most Rev. Archbishop Elpidophoros, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler; and NCC Governing Board Chair Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, CME, processed into the chapel.
Ms. Tura Foster Gillespie of the National Workshop on Christian Unity sung the procession hymn, “All Creatures of our God & King,” with those in attendance.
The opening prayer was offered by His All-Holiness, then Mr. Winkler greeted those in attendance saying, “we are grateful you accepted our invitation to this reception which confirms your commitment to ecumenism and to friendship through the archdiocese with the NCC. We want you to know of the love and affection we have for you and we join in welcoming you to our nation. We pray your meetings with our national leaders will be fruitful and move the entire world along the path to peace and toward climate justice. We at the NCC are grateful for the partnership of Archbishop Elpidophoros and the archdiocese in the life and work of the NCC (as well as other Eastern Orthodox traditions).”
Bishop Jefferson-Snorton warmly welcomed everyone to the gathering, “It is an honor to have you here with us today. The world is quickly becoming smaller, not geographically in size but in the ways in which we interact, interrelate, and depend on one another. Today, as the children of God, as the people of the church, we understand that global community because as Christian faith, we have been global for a long time. His High Holiness’ presence with us today is a testimony in which our global relationships and our faith transcends time and transcends space. We are so grateful for this opportunity to gather because it reminds us of our duty and our responsibility to bring hope to a world that is filled with terror and fear and pandemic, to show love in a world were often faith wants to prevail but most of all to show unity. Though we call ourselves by many names, we are but one. We are one in Christ. We are one in the faith.”
Bishop David Talley of Memphis, chair of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; and Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society also spoke.
His All-Holiness gave a formal address entitled “The Future of Ecumenical Dialogue.” The full remarks can be found here on goarch.org.
A special recognition of the 30th anniversary of His All-Holiness’s Election and Enthronement was read by NCC’s former Governing Board Chair, Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, UCC and an Ecumenical Cross was presented by NCC Governing Board Vice Chair, Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, ELCA, who said, “May this Council cross be a symbol of the transformative power of Jesus’ presence in our lives together to be steadfast in faith and unity, in Christ open to God’s creation, justice, and loving kindness.” Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Church of America, gave the closing prayer.
His All-Holiness distributed icon cards to those in attendance upon their departure from the chapel.
While on the trip to the United States, the visit began in Washington, DC and included meetings with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Ambassador of Greece to the United States Alexandra Papadopoulou, and Turkish Ambassador to the United States Hasan Murat Mercan.
In addition to the Ecumenical Reception on Capitol Hill by the National Council of Churches, events in D.C. included a Pan-Orthodox Patriarchal Chorostasia at Saint Sophia Cathedral; a Luncheon with the Hierarchs; a Dinner Tribute by the Order of AHEPA; and the Blessing of the Permanent Exhibition of Orthodox Christian Cultural Heritage at the Museum of the Bible.