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Ecumenical and Interreligious Guests Welcomed

Ecumenical and interreligious guests have been present since the first day of General Convention.

“Part of our goal in hosting these guests is helping the church act like deacons, looking outward,” said the Rev. Margaret Rose, deputy to the Presiding Bishop for ecumenical and interreligious relations. “We are all facing the same issues in the world, and thus we can accomplish much more looking beyond ourselves, forging partnerships with the faith traditions of others.”

This marks the first time the Rt. Rev. Karin Johannesson, Bishop of Uppsala in the Church of Sweden, attended a General Convention. “I came to Louisville because I wanted to learn more about the Episcopal Church,” she said. “The relationship between the Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden is growing, although that relationship dates back to the 16th century.”

Johannesson said her week at Convention has been a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. “People here are very friendly.”

It was also the first General Convention for the Rev. Dr. Protopresbyter Nicolas Kazarian, representing the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. “It is very exciting to be here with our brothers and sisters of the Episcopal Church, expressing solidarity in this momentous time of leadership transition,” he said.

Kazarian is excited to be a part of growing relationships between Orthodox and Anglican traditions. “I am also here to show our ecumenical commitment on our journey to unity with the Episcopal Church.” Kazarian has appreciated “building new friendships and seeing how the sausage is made.”

Visiting from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller of the Moravian Church in America is a retuning guest. “Last time I attended General Convention, I was representing the Moravian Church as the presiding head of communion,” Miller explained. “This week I am focusing on our full communion relationship and really praying for our siblings in Christ as they elect new leadership for the church.”

Miller has enjoyed seeing the bicameral system of governance at work. “The process of deliberation, involving a multitude of voices, is one we are familiar with in the Moravian Church.”

It’s the second visit for Bishop Susan Johnson, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. “My goal in attending this year was to be a partner, saying goodbye to Bishop Curry, and welcoming the new Presiding Bishop.”

A member bishop of Churches Beyond Borders, Johnson said her involvement has led her to become “friends and great colleagues” with many in Louisville. She is “always interested in learning more about how this amazing convention works, because it is unlike any other, as far as I am concerned.”

Dr. Mohammed Elsanousi is the executive director of The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers and a leader in the American Muslim community. Although this is Elsanousi’s first time at General Convention, he has previously worked with the Episcopal Church on interreligious dialogue, leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Shori.

“I have come to Louisville to be in solidarity with Episcopalians on the hard work they do regarding the advancement of religious collaboration, partnership, and understanding,” he said. “Although the Episcopal Church’s commitment to justice is an amazing thing, I am here to say that no one religion can solve the problems facing humanity on its own, but that theologians and people of faith from all traditions must work together.”

Obispo Maximo (Archbishop) Joel Ocop Porlares of Iglesia Filipina Independiente said, “I am here to represent my church, to make more friends in the ecumenical circle, and because our church has a concordant relationship with the Episcopal Church.”

Porlares would like to “enhance and go further” with the concordant relationship between the two churches, mutually recognizing each other’s sacraments and polity, and sharing education recourses and clergy.

“So much of what we are doing here is creating person-to-person relationships,” said Hank Jeannel, associate for ecumenical and interreligious relations. “The best interreligious dialogue doesn’t happen at the institutional level, but when people come together, meeting face to face.”

Other ecumenical and interreligious guests were:

  • Archbishop Linda Nicholls, Anglican Church of Canada
  • Maria Stettner, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria
  • Bishop Dindo Ranojo, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
  • The Rev. Jonash A. Joyohoy, Iglesia Filipina Independiente
  • The Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Bishop Vashti McKenzie, National Council of Churches
  • Bishop Teresa Snorton, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
  • The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, Moravian Church in America
  • Bishop Gregory Palmer, the United Methodist Church
  • Tarunjit Butalia Singh, Religions for Peace (USA)
  • The Rev. Dr. Monica Schaap Pierce, Christian Churches Together
  • Becca Tyvoll, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign
  • The Very Rev. Fr. Simeon Odabashian, the Armenian Church
  • Teresa Elwood, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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