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Ecumenical Readings of “For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” and Its Implications for the US and Global Contexts

April 21, 2021
12:00 – 1:30 pm ET

Online: Zoom Webinar

Welcome Rev. Dr. Nicolas Kazarian, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (3 min)

Introduction Dr. Aaron Hollander, Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (5 min)

The Document Dr. James Skedros, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (10 min)

Responses Bishop W. Darin Moore, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (10 min) Dr. Barbara Hallensleben, University of Fribourg (10 min) Rev. Margaret Rose, The Episcopal Church (10 min)

Discussion All (40 min)

Closing Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, National Council of Churches USA (2 min)

“For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” was released in early 2020, after being authored by a commission of theologians specifically convened for the task by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. This document provides, in Patriarch Bartholomew’s assessment, “the parameters and guidelines for the social responsibility of our Church before the complex challenges and problems of today’s world, without at the same time overlooking the favorable potential and positive perspectives of contemporary civilization.”

As “For the Life of the World” has been promoted and discussed in diverse settings over the past year, a clear priority has been to evaluate not only what it means for the contemporary Orthodox community but also in what ways it resonates with other traditions with which the Orthodox Church shares its civic life. What does the document, in other words, offered and received in a spirit of good will, bring to the table in order to facilitate cooperation in terms of meeting the ethical challenged faced in local contexts by others who dwell in those contexts? And in what ways might it fall short of the “expansive theological dialogue” with other traditions that it attempts to conjoin with the “spiritual growth of the Orthodox faithful” in pursuit of social justice and sustainable peace worldwide?

This webinar will explore ecumenical dimensions to these questions.

Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute is co-sponsoring this event with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the National Council of Churches, and the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network.

Being a Eucharistic People in Digital Space: Liturgy in the Time of COVID

March 31, 2021
2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. EDT

Online: Zoom Webinar

The global COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021 has had major ramifications for how human beings gather for worship throughout the world. The impact has been especially pronounced among sacramental communions for whom the Eucharist is the central act of worship. How are churches and communions responding, what ecclesiological insights undergird these responses, and what are some of the grassroots implications for these various traditions?

This webinar will feature ecclesiologists from Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian traditions who are reflecting upon and practicing the Eucharist and worship in the context of the pandemic. First, theological considerations will be framed around the essential question: what constitutes a Eucharistic assembly? Participants will then address practical considerations, including grassroots and liturgical initiatives. Finally, Aaron Hollander, associate editor of Ecumenical Trends, will consider where we go from here and what the future of Eucharist and worship more broadly might be.

*The event is co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and its Department of Theology and Religious Studies with Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network and the North American Academy of Ecumenists.

World Council of Churches: Common Witness on Environmental Justice and Religious Pluralism

Thursday, February 18
8:00-10:00 am EST

The Faith and Order Commission of the WCC will hold a free public webinar to introduce and reflect upon two recently published papers, emerging from their work on a theological invitation to the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace: "Love and Witness: Proclaiming the Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ in a Religiously Plural World," and "Cultivate and Care: An Ecumenical Theology of Justice for and within Creation." Faith and Order commissioners will describe the purpose and content of the texts, and the Rev. Dr. Wen Ge (China) and Dr. Aaron Hollander (USA) will offer reflection and critique. There will be time for participants to engage in discussion.

Speakers will include:

  • Rev. Prof. Dr Sandra Beardsall, Professor for church history and ecumenics, The United Church of Canada
  • Rev. Yolanda Pantou, Indonesian Christian Church
  • Rev. Prof. Dr Kristine Culp, Dean of the Disciples Divinity House of the University of Chicago
  • Dr Aaron Hollander, Associate Director of Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute and affiliated faculty at the Centro Pro Unione , Rome
  • Prof. Dr Tom Greggs, Professor and Head of Divinity at the University of Aberdeen
  • Prof. Dr Wen Ge, Associate professor of systematic theology, Nanjing Union Theological Seminary
  • Rev. Prof. Dr Jaeshik Shin, Professor, Honam Theological University and Seminary, Korea, PCK
  • Prof. Dr Octavian Mihoc, WCC Programme executive for ecumenical relations and Faith and Order

The following link will take you to the texts of the two papers: WCC Faith and Order Commission releases papers on "Love and Witness," "Cultivate and Care" | World Council of Churches (oikoumene.org)

"Paths of Peace to Heal Open Wounds": Interreligious Encounters with Fratelli Tutti

Wednesday, February 3, 2021
12:00-2:00 pm EST

A mosaic image of St. Francis and Sultan Malik al-Kamil, whose encounter in 1219 was a point of inspiration for Pope Francis' composition of Fratelli Tutti. Image from the Church of St. Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.

Watch the replay below.

Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti (“brothers and sisters, all”), released on October 4, 2020, develops at length a call for a “culture of encounter” in which dialogue among people, communities, and religious traditions is not merely a cosmetic or pragmatic opportunity, but an urgently needed means of healing our corroded public culture, which has increasingly been marked more by clashes of opinion grounded in alternative realities than by empathy and ethical engagement with otherness. Genuine dialogue can, Pope Francis suggests, be a transformative path of “peace to heal open wounds” (FT 225): a path with no end, as the building of peace does not conclude with the cessation of violence. The encyclical, accordingly, builds toward its concluding appeal to the religions—not merely to the people of conscience who constitute them, but to the traditions themselves—to become cultivators of universal fraternity, which does not abolish or even marginalize difference but grounds it in a familial love that subordinates disagreement to reciprocal commitment.

This online colloquium brings together scholars and leaders from several religious traditions who represent a wealth of experience and guiding insight with the public interreligious dialogue for which Fratelli Tutti calls. The colloquium will be moderated by the Very Rev. Brian Terry, Minister General of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. Following the panel, our conversation will continue in small groups, moderated by staff and local interfaith leaders.

We encourage, though of course do not expect, participants to have read at least some of the encyclical Fratelli Tutti prior to the event: available here.


Dr. Pritpal Kaur (The Sikh Coalition)
Pritpal Kaur serves as Education Director at the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization, and as a Co-President of the World Council of Religions for Peace. Born and raised in England, Dr. Kaur holds a PhD in Sikh Studies from the University of Birmingham (UK). She now lives with her husband and daughter in Orange County, California.


Dr. Mona Siddiqui (The University of Edinburgh)
Mona Siddiqui, OBE, is Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at the University of Edinburgh and specializes in classical Islamic law and Christian-Muslim relations. Alongside her academic works, she is a public intellectual who regularly contributes and broadcasts for a wide variety of media. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the American Academy of Arts and a recent recipient of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Hubert Walter Award for reconciliation and interfaith cooperation.


Rev. Kosen Gregory Snyder (Union Theological Seminary)
Rev. Kosen Gregory Snyder is the Senior Director and Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies at Union Theological Seminary where he oversees the Master of Divinity degree program in Buddhism and Interreligious Engagement as well as the Thích Nhất Hạnh Program for Engaged Buddhism. Rev. Snyder is an ordained Zen Buddhist priest and dharma-transmitted teacher in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki. He co-founded and is currently the senior resident priest at the Brooklyn Zen Center and Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery in Millerton NY.


Rabbi Burton Visotzky (Jewish Theological Seminary)
Rabbi Burton Visotzky, PhD, serves as Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. There, he directs the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue. Rabbi Visotzky is author of ten books and the editor/ contributor of another seven volumes, the most recent: JUDAISM vol. 1: History; vol. 2: Literature; vol. 3: Culture and Modernity (Kohlhammer; 2020-2021).


This event is free and open to the public. We gratefully acknowledge our co-organizers and co-sponsors:
-The Interfaith Center of New York
-The Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue
-Religions for Peace USA
-The Thich Nhat Hanh Program for Engaged Buddhism

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021
Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God

Sunday, January 24, 2021
7:00-8:00 pm EST

Online: Stream the event on the Atonement Friars Facebook Page

Join GEII for a virtual liturgy built from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ecumenical prayer service, as we join with ministers and leaders from several different church traditions around the country to demonstrate and celebrate Christian unity as especially needful in a time of isolation, division, and grief. For more information and resources for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, visit our website's dedicated WPCU pages. Materials for your own community's WPCU activities can be ordered from Graymoor.

The Proto-Ecumenical Dialogue of Abba Mika’el, Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon

November 18, 2020
2:00-3:30 pm EDT

A scholar of global history of Christianity and a researcher at the Department of History of Religions at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, Dr. Stanislau Paulau explored the 1534 encounter between Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon and Abba Mika’el (also known as Michael the Deacon), a monk and deacon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, in his 2019 award-winning dissertation The Other Christianity: Towards an Entangled Transconfessional History of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and European Protestantism, forthcoming from Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. He is now authoring a forthcoming paper that highlights both critical questions and issues posed by this intercultural encounter at the age of Reformation and shows why the topic deserves serious attention by scholars today.

This discussion of Protestant-Ethiopian Orthodox relations will highlight neglected contacts in the 1530s between Martin Luther, Philip Melanchton, and Abba Mika'el. David D. Daniels III, a leading scholar of the global context of the early Reformation period, will moderate a panel between Paulau and three other panelists versed in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue to discuss the implications of Paulau’s paper and research. The discussants are Rev. Dr. Dagmar Heller, acting director of the Institute for Ecumenical Studies and Research; Solomon Gebreyes Beyene, research fellow at the Hiob Ludolf Centre for Ethiopian and Eritrean Studies; and Tim Wengert, emeritus professor of church history at the United Lutheran Seminary (Philadelphia). The discussion will be framed within three ecumenical contexts: 1) the substance and significance of the 1534 event being the first documented meeting of Protestant leaders and an Orthodox monk; 2) the pre-Regensburg conversation about resolving the Catholic and Protestant conflict; and 3) the intercultural context that frames what we now understand as Global North-South exchanges between Christians and the manner in which the Southern Hemisphere first entered the European Reformation.

This event is co-sponsored by Georgetown University’s Department of Theology and Religious Studies and its Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs in collaboration with the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network, the McCormick Theological Seminary, the Konfessionskundliches Institut, and Ecumenical Trends.

Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, interviews Dr. Aaron Hollander and others on Antisemitism in the Church

October 1, 2020

Fr. John Chryssavgis speaks with Rev. Dr. Brandon Gallaher, Dr. Aaron Hollander, Rabbi Noam Marans, and Rev. Dr. Demetrios Tonias on Orthodoxy and responding to Antisemitism.

Ecology and Ecumenicity: Facing Division and Imagining Reconciliation in the Care of Our Common Home

Friday, September 18, 2020
1:00-3:00 pm EDT

An online colloquium with ecologically-attentive theologians, ethicists, and community leaders from an array of Christian traditions.

The ecological crisis is, no less, an ecumenical crisis and an ecumenical opportunity. There can be no degradation nor restoration of the environment, on any scale from local to global, that does not also present a challenge of communication with and commitment to one another. The “home” (oikos) we share—however divided and acrimonious it may be—is and must be a home to all. Yet our ecological vision and efforts are often themselves divisive or inattentive to divisions that shape our capacities for response.

This roundtable will take up the urgent contemporary questions rising from the entanglement between social division (religious, political, ethnic, economic, and so forth) and ecological degradation. For instance:

  • How are we best to understand the causes and ethical entailments of our present ecological challenges through the resources offered by our (different and often disagreeing) traditions?
  • What roles are played by ecological precarity in the divisions (cultural, ethical, political, theological) between and within Christian communities?
  • How should religious communities (and conversations between communities) contribute to society’s responses to these challenges—whether at the level of a public vision of ecological integrity, or at the level of concrete challenges like food security, environmental justice, and the plight of climate refugees?
  • What ecumenical resources exist for engagement between religious communities with apparently incompatible assessments of the present ecological situation?

This special program has been generously co-sponsored and co-organized by the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary; the Church World Service; the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University; and the Zohrab Information Center.


The Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis:
Fr. Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, was born in Australia, studied theology in Athens, and completed his doctorate in Oxford. He taught theology in Sydney and Boston, and currently serves as theological advisor to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “the green patriarch.” His latest book is Creation as Sacrament: Reflections on Ecology and Spirituality (Bloomsbury, 2019). He lives in Maine.

The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas:
was named Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary and Professor of Theology at Union in September 2017. She was named the Bill and Judith Moyers Chair in Theology in November 2019. She also serves as the Canon Theologian at the Washington National Cathedral and Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street. Ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1983, Dean Douglas holds a master’s degree in theology and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union. Dean Douglas is the author of many articles and five books, including Sexuality and the Black Church: A Womanist Perspective and Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. Her academic work has focused on womanist theology, sexuality and the black church.

Dr. Dawn Nothwehr, OSF:
is a leading Catholic environmental ethicist, who in 2012 was acknowledged among the top twenty-five eco-theologians in The U.S. Heartland by The National Council of Churches of Christ Ecojustice Programs. Since 2015 she has served on the Encyclical Working Group of the Office of Human Dignity of the Archdiocese of Chicago, whose mission is the education and implementation of Laudato Si’. A Rochester, Minnesota Franciscan, Sr. Dawn joined the faculty of Catholic Theological Union (Chicago) in 1999. The mandate of the John Family Chair is to promote the Roman Catholic Consistent Ethic of Life, advanced by Cardinal Bernardin; thus, her research and teaching addresses a variety of issues. Her primary focus is environmental ethics through the lens of Franciscan theology, especially the effects of global climate change on poor people. Equal concerns include the religion/science dialogue, the ethics of power and racial justice, and fundamental moral theology.

Dr. Christopher Sheklian:
was appointed Director of the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center in September 2018. An anthropologist by training, completing his PhD at the University of Chicago, Dr. Sheklian specializes in the Anthropology of religion and secularism, studying the role of liturgy and law on the lives of religious minorities. He teaches introductory courses on liturgy and the sacraments at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, and he is an ordained deacon in the Armenian Apostolic Church in America.

Rev. Dr. David Vásquez-Levy:
serves as President of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California –a progressive, multidenominational seminary and center for social justice that prepares theologically and spiritually rooted leaders to work for the well-being of all. A committed Lutheran pastor, a nationally recognized immigration leader, and a sought-after speaker, Vásquez-Levy leads at the intersection of faith, higher education, and social change. He is currently engaged in a series of public conversation with various State Attorneys across the country in an effort to reframe our national conversation about immigration.

Ecumenical Celebration:
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Wednesday, January 22, 2020
12:00 to 1:00 pm
The Interchurch Center Chapel
475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115

On Wednesday, January 22, 12:00 – 1:00 pm, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25): Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute will host an ecumenical service of word, prayer, and contemplative ritual in the Interchurch Center Chapel. Co-presiding at the service will be:

  • Fr. Jim Loughran, SA (Vicar General, Franciscan Friars of the Atonement; Director, GEII)
  • Bishop Paul Egensteiner (Bishop, Metro NY Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)
  • Rev. LaKeesha Walrond, PhD (President, New York Theological Seminary)
  • Fr. Nicolas Kazarian, PhD (Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)

The service will be an opportunity to bring people together from across the Christian family to join in reflection together on this year’s theme of “unusual kindness” (Acts 28) shown to the stranger in a time of deepening fear, hostility, and division. Bishop Egensteiner will preach, and coffee and conversation will follow the service. All are welcome!

*Other events were held throughout the 2020 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Saving the Saints:
The History, Challenge, and Significance of Hagiographical Scholarship
among the Société des Bollandists

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
12:00 to 1:30 pm
The Interchurch Center
Sockman Lounge
475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115

A lunchtime lecture & conversation with Irini de Saint Sernin, Director of External Relations, Bollandist Society

Free and open to the public. A light lunch will be served:
RSVP to ahollander@geii.org

The study of medieval history remains instrumental in understanding the structure of contemporary society, politics, culture, and more. One of the oldest scientific societies in the world, and the first research institute in the modern world based on co-operative scholarship, the Bollandist Society has played an indispensable role in this academic field. From the inception of the Society in 1607, the Bollandists have held to the audacious project of preserving and studying the vast literature of Christian sainthood, which took shape as the largest scientific and editorial enterprise in the Ancien Régime: the Acta Sanctorum. Today, it is in their journal, Analecta Bollandiana, that the Bollandists along with scholars from different parts of the world continue to critically edit, translate, and comment on texts relating to the saints.

This lecture will tell a unique story of resilience over more than four centuries during which the Bollandists suffered suppression and expulsion, theft and pillage, and the wrath of the Spanish Inquisition. The Bollandists are here today not only because they were capable of adapting to different environments but also because they were and are committed to innovation—as they must be all the more in these adverse times for the humanities. The next generation of historians must be acquainted with the work of the Society and encouraged to take advantage of the remarkable resources that it has preserved through the centuries.

Learn more about the Bollandist Society here.
Support the work of the Bollandists here.

Ecumenical Symposium: Truth Does Not Fear Dialogue

Wednesday, November 13, 2019
6:00 to 8:45 pm &
Thursday, November 14, 2019
10:30 am to 3:30 pm
Saint Peter's Church
619 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10022

Toward a Common Future

“Truth,” Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I wrote in an Encyclical for the Sunday of Orthodoxy 2010, “does not fear dialogue.” The Encyclical articulated the vibrant relationship between Orthodoxy and a world filled with living, breathing cultures and peoples.

This symposium explores the ways in which the Holy Spirit is active within this long and dynamic dialogue. Drawing on the lived experience of Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Pentecostal churches similarities as well as differences will be named and respected with the understanding that these churches — with their various histories and contexts — have grown variously in the same Spirit.

An enduring struggle among cultures and peoples is how to respond to differences. Need they be dividing? Need they induce suspicion? Need they lead to condemnation?

This symposium will highlight several approaches to difference that have emerged in dialogues between pairs of these churches, and consider possible application in other contexts. From the “differentiated consensus” that led the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation to address the central theological issue of the Reformation to the emerging idea of “differentiated participation,” participants will not only learn about these tools but have the opportunity to engage with ecumenical leaders who are presently seeking to apply them.

Hosted by Saint Peter’s Church - visit their event page for full schedule and to register.

with the collaboration of
Archdiocese of New York
Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
Metropolitan New York Synod, ELCA
Santa Maria Foundation
Yale Divinity School


Monday, November 4, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
St. Mary's University
Sobey Building
Lecture Hall (Scotiabank Theatre)
903 Robie Street, Halifax, NS

This year's lecturer will be Fr. Elias Mallon, SA, a Friar of the Atonement who is involved in Roman Catholic/Christian-Muslim dialogue and issues of interreligious cooperation for conflict transformation and peace building in the Middle East. At present he is the External Affairs Officer for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) which supports charitable, educational, health and development projects in the Middle East, Ethiopia, Eastern Europe and southern India. The title of his lecture will be "Tripoli to Abu-Dhabi: the Evolution of Catholic-Muslim Relations." Click here for more information on Fr. Mallon's publications and extensive experience in interfaith affairs.

The Paul Wattson Lecture is free and open to the public.