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Greetings to Ion Bria Conference

tings of Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the WCC, to the International Conference dedicated to late Fr Prof. Dr Ion Bria Sibiu, May 2009

14 May 2009

The following message was delivered on behalf of the WCC general secretary at the conference in Sibiu by Father Prof. Daniel Buda on 14 May 2009.

After a long and fruitful activity within the Romanian Orthodox Church, Father Ion Bria joined the staff of the WCC in 1973, as executive secretary for Orthodox Mission Studies and Relationships. In 1987, he became the director of the Sub-unit for Renewal and Congregational Life. Shortly before his retirement, in 1994, Father Ion was entrusted with the position of Unit director, in the area of Faith and Witness.

During these years, Fr Ion Bria acquired a world-wide renown as a theologian, missiologist and ecumenist, largely because of his important publications.  Martyria-Mission, Go forth in peace, Liturgy after the Liturgy are some of his books, without counting hundreds of other studies and articles published throughout the world in many languages. Fr Ion organized important ecumenical meetings and had been invited to many international encounters as a keynote speaker or resource person. His knowledge and experience, his readiness to listen and his capacity to articulate the results of a discussion were highly appreciated.

His years of service in the WCC were devoted to a rich and relevant study of Orthodox missiology, to a theologically grounded analysis of ecumenical relations, to a strong advocacy for an active Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement and, above all, to training and encouraging a new generation of theologians. 

For many of us he has been a real mentor. He generously shared with all of us his knowledge, his experience, his passion. His radiant personality is strongly present in our memories. I hope that his work and theological reflections will be really used in our common efforts to reach the visible unity in Jesus Christ, our common Lord and Savior.

Your initiative to honor the memory of Fr Ion Bria dedicating him an International Conference, is a clear sign that his theology and ecumenical activity are appreciated in his own country, especially in Sibiu, the well-known theological and academic centre where he continued to serve with dedication and enthusiasm almost until the last days of his life.  

I do express here the hope that the young generation of Orthodox theologians will be able to find in Fr Ion Bria's work inspiring elements which will give them new inputs for their own theological and ecumenical reflection. Father Ion Bria worked tirelessly for and dreamed about the renewal of Orthodox thought in the contemporary world. May his disciples harvest the results of his labor and may they multiply the fruits of his work. And may the Theological Faculty of Sibiu, a place that I had the pleasure to visit and appreciate, continue to be an academic center that serves Orthodox theology and the articulation of a meaningful ecumenical commitment.

Once again, we thank the organizers of this Conference for their initiative and hard work, we thank the key speaker for the efforts to present Fr Ion Bria's work and activity, and we thank all participants for their readiness to join this event.

We wish you all a good and fruitful conference!

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General secretary of the World Council of Churches