he first preparatory meeting for the 18th plenary session of the International Lutheran-Orthodox Joint Commission took place from 24 September to 1 October 2019 in Tirana, Albania. In addition to the long-standing co-chairman on the Orthodox side, His Eminence Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the dialogue welcomed for the first time Bishop Dr. Dr. h.c. Johann Schneider of the Protestant Church in Central Germany as Lutheran co-chair.
The venue was the Skete of the Holy Myrrh-Bearers near St. Vlash Monastery, which, in its remoteness, provided an ideal location for the discussion of the theme “The place and the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.” To this end, talks were given by the Orthodox and Lutheran side, drawing on previous dialogue results to discuss the action of the Holy Spirit, especially in baptism, ministry and the Eucharist (more details in the attached communiqué below).
Following the conclusion of the sometimes difficult joint discussions on the official question (for more information see: https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/lutherans-and-orthodox-publish-statement-ordained-ministry), it became clear that there were many similarities in the theology of the Holy Spirit, but also some unanswered questions. Both were recorded in a joint working document, which will serve as a basis for future discussions. There was a need for clarification in particular with regard to a theologically appropriate relationship between the Holy Spirit, the Church, and the world, which is why the main focus of the next phase of the dialogue will lie here.
In addition to daily devotions celebrated in the beautiful Skete Chapel, the meeting also participated in the well-attended Divine Liturgy in the Resurrection Cathedral of Tirana, presided over by His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durres, and all of Albania. At the subsequent reception, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios reported on the impressive revival of religious life in Albania, which of all formerly communist countries was most strongly committed to total secularization and is now characterized by state-guaranteed religious freedom.
The next preparatory meeting is planned for 29 May to 4 June 2020 in Germany.
You can read the Communique here: Communique Luth-Orthod 2019