Spiritualties, Politics, and Polities

28 March, 2024

Photo: CWM
Photo: CWM

"The strength of the Orthodox faith lies in its potential to advocate, in constructive and self-critical ways, for a vision of a transformed, life-affirming world that promotes just, peaceful, and sustainable ways of living," said Katerina Pekridou, Programme Officer for Theology and Studies of the Conference of European Churches (CEC), and one of the participants at the symposium on "Spiritualties, Politics, and Polities" organised by the Council for World Mission (CWM) held in Serbia, 24-28 March 2024. 

The symposium was the result of a joint effort of the Council for World Mission and The Institute for the Study of Culture and Christianity. It brought together some of the leading figures in Orthodox political theology, who were joined by professionals who focus in their work on Orthodoxy, society, and culture. 

The aim was to discuss the emancipatory potential of Orthodoxy and explore the possibilities of future joint projects. The fruitful and open conversation among participants coming from the USA, Greece, Russia, Sweden, Serbia, Belgium and Kenya, centered on identifying the aspects of the Orthodox tradition and Orthodox political theology relevant for contemporary issues we are facing as a global society. 

Discussions explored various themes including the role of laypeople in the Church, the role of women, the relationship between various emancipatory Orthodox theologies and liberation theology, as well as the need to explore these and other related topics in an ecumenical context.  

“It was a pleasure, and an intellectually very rewarding experience, to participate in the organisation of the symposium as well as in actual workshops. Looking back at the discussions we had, walks, lunches, and evening talks over a drink, I have an impression that something incredibly important for the Christian world has happened,” says Davor Džalto, professor at the University College Stockholm and president of the Institute for the Study of Culture and Christianity. Similar impressions were shared by Graham McGeoch from the Council for World Mission, who stresses the importance of these conversations not only for the Orthodox but also for the Protestant context: “Conversations like this open up new ways of looking at Orthodox Christianity, ecumenical dialogue and political theology.”

The participants include Prof. Aristotle Papanikolaou, Danijela Marković, Prof. Davor Džalto, Prof. Elizabeth Helen Prodromou, Dr. Evangelia Voulgaraki, Jelena Jorgačević Kisić, Fr. John Ngige Njoroge, Fr. Milutin Janjic, Prof. Nikolaos Dimitriadis, Janko Radović, Sergei Chapnin, Dr Sotiris Mitralexis, Dr Graham McGeoch and Ebin Thankachan.

The meeting fostered inspiring conversations, social interactions, and the generation of new perspectives and ideas that will jointly be implemented. “One idea, with gained a strong support from the participants, was to open communication channels, including social media, through which different voices from the Orthodox Church could be voiced, reaching a wider audience,” remarked Fr. Milutin Janjić. In addition to creating podcasts and other communication channels to promote the emancipatory potential of Orthodox Christianity, working joint publications was also agreed. Finally, there is a recognition of the need for similar events that would foster the already established conversations, perhaps on a larger scale, and with an even more diverse body of participants. 

By Jelena Jorgacevic Kisic, Deputy Editor in Chief, Vreme Weekly

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