Your All Holiness, Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
It is my honour to bring a word of greeting from the World Council of Churches at this 50th Anniversary of the Orthodox Centre here in Chambésy, in Geneva, Switzerland. This occasion coincides with the 25th anniversary of the service of Your All Holiness as Ecumenical Patriarch. The latter we will have an opportunity to celebrate also in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva on Monday.
We are grateful for the presence of this centre - in these 50 years. This centre belongs to the history of the Orthodox church, through its promotion of intra-orthodox dialogue. It belongs to the history of the ecumenical movement, through its great contributions to inter-church dialogue. It also belongs to the history of the international city of Geneva where we are serving and living.
The vision behind this unique centre is inspired by the call from the One, triune God that has created us for fellowship and called us to be one in the Holy Spirit as followers of Christ. The call to serve the visible unity of the Church is carrying the ecumenical movement forward, as we are called in our unity to make it possible to know and to believe that in Jesus Christ, in his life, crucifixion and resurrection, we see the truth about God’s love for the world.
The call that led to the establishment the Orthodox Centre – to promote life in unity in our time, was the same call that lead to the establishment of the World Council of Churches 70 years ago (next year). This call was so significantly articulated from the Ecumenical Patriarch already in 1920.
The centre is serving the unity of the local Orthodox churches here in this place. It serves the deepening of theological and scientific orientation of the ecumenical movement, through teaching, research and collecting resources of information. We are grateful for the ongoing relations between this centre of studies and our Ecumenical Institute in Bossey. Investing in education is always worth it, investing in the ecumenical formation of the future servants and the leaders of the Church is a strategic priority. I have myself as a PhD student made use of the libraries here with great pleasure and usefulness. The centre serves as a place for many who are searching for knowledge and inspiration to our common pilgrimage for unity, for common witness to a shared faith and service in God’s world.
In this centre many have met the open hand and the open face of Orthodoxy to the whole world wide church, and particularly helpful for the church in the West to learn more profoundly about the church of the East. The centre has opened many eyes and hearts in these 50 years.
For me personally the first entry to the church here in this centre was amazing and inspiring, seeing through the architecture and the iconography the Orthodox Church witnessing and serving with the Church through the ages – and now in our time in a new way to the world about the One Church of Christ.
The centre serves as a meeting point of the Orthodox family, as it has had a special mission in serving the preparations of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. That the Council convened after so many years of preparation, is a great gift to the Orthodox churches, but also to the ecumenical movement. That it happened has to do with the two anniversaries we are celebrating. This centre was the platform on which it could develop. The leadership of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I the last 25 years was essential to make it happen last year.
We are all blessed by what we celebrate today, and we ask for God’s blessing to all who are living and relating to this centre of Orthodoxy here in Chambésy. May God continue to let it be a sign of the power of the resurrection of Christ to make everything new, to bring hope in every situation and time.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
World Council of Churches