By Albin Hillert*
As church bells resounded over Paralimni, Cyprus on Sunday, the congregation gathering at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint George welcomed into their midst representatives of a wide range of Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches around the world.
Gathered in Cyprus on 9-16 May, an Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation to the World Council of Churches (WCC) 11th Assembly – to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany later this year – has brought together the voices of more than 20 different Orthodox churches to reflect together on the meaning of the WCC 11th Assembly theme “Christ’s love moves the world to reconciliation and unity” as well as current issues affecting Orthodox churches and the world today.
In prayer, the group has been able to come together to express their faith and share fellowship.
On Sunday, the Eucharistic service celebrated at Saint George served as a salient example of this, and a reminder of faith that is shared across traditions.
His Eminence Metropolitan Dr Vasilios of Constantia and Ammochostos of the Church of Cyprus, whose hospitality has helped bring the group together in Cyprus, reflected on the significance of gathering in prayer together: “I consider the presence of you all during this Eucharistic service as a manifestation of the visible unity of our churches. To see how our faithful people are gathering here today, as they do every Sunday, and how what we have spoken about theologically is realized during the Eucharistic celebration.”
Hundreds of congregants were gathered at Saint George, which – as the local church has been growing in membership through the years – today serves as one of three parishes in Paralimni.
H.E. Archbishop Prof. Dr Job of Telmessos of the Ecumenical Patriarchate presided over the service, which marked the Divine Liturgy of the Sunday of the Paralytic, recalling the miracle of Jesus’s healing of a man who had been paralysed for more than 30 years (John 5:1-15).
As acting general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca was invited to concelebrate.
Metropolitan Vasilios expressed gratitude to those gathered for what he described as “an important moment of the living church present in this Eucharistic service.”
Turning to the participants in the Inter-Orthodox Pre-Assembly Consultation, the Metropolitan added: “My wish is that the efforts that we make during our discussions, our deliberations, and the text that we produce – not only now but every time we have such meetings – will be the basis of our way to the unity of our churches.”
Taking place in the period between Easter and Pentecost, the service was then followed by a procession around the cathedral.
Church of Cyprus welcomes Orthodox from across the world to pray together (WCC press release of 13 May 2022)
Hospitality at heart, in bringing Orthodox family together (WCC press release of 12 May 2022)
Orthodox churches pray and reflect on reconciliation as WCC 11th Assembly approaches (WCC press release of 10 May 2022)
Photo gallery: Inter-Orthodox pre-assembly consultation - 2022
Learn more: WCC 11th Assembly