MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2024

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,

Esteemed scholars and members of the academy,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this happy occasion of the 25-year anniversary of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, I convey to you all my wholehearted celebratory greetings. I am not able to be with you today in person due to the obligations associated with my role as President of the Conference of European Churches; nevertheless, in spirit, I congratulate the dedication and efforts of all those, past and present, who have laboured to cultivate this unique and remarkable academic initiative.

When the Institute was founded a quarter of a century ago, it was guided by a shared vision for the creation of a dedicated space for serious scholarly work exploring the riches and depths of Orthodox Christian theology—to examine, to understand, and to share these treasures with our contemporary world. This undoubtedly ambitious vision was realised thanks to the strong personal faith and scholarly commitment of many individuals, but especially through the prayers and tireless efforts of His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of blessed memory. On this 25th anniversary, I am sure that everyone involved with the Institute is especially grateful to our Lord for raising up among us a man of his spiritual and academic stature—a man who touched the lives of countless people around the world through his prayerful contemplation and his inspiring writing.

Since its establishment, the Institute has grown to become a beacon of learning and spiritual development, not only for Orthodox Christians in the British Isles but, as I mentioned, around the globe. It has brought together scholars, theologians, and students from the four corners of the earth, united by their quest for knowledge and their commitment to the Orthodox faith, offering not only academic rigour but also a profound witness to the spiritual life in the Church. The contributions of the individuals associated with the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies have enriched our understanding and opened new pathways for dialogue between Orthodoxy and the modern world.

One of the greatest achievements of this Institute has been its role in fostering ecumenical dialogue, precisely by offering such a robust witness to Orthodox Christian tradition and theology. In a world often divided by differences, you have championed the importance of understanding and genuine, good-willed collaboration among various Christian traditions. Your conferences, publications, and seminars have created platforms for meaningful exchanges, helping to build bridges of faith and understanding.

We must also acknowledge the unwavering support of your benefactors and alumni. Their generosity and commitment have been the lifeblood of this Institute. It is through their support that the Institute has been able to provide scholarships, expand its library, and develop its programmes. Their contributions have not only sustained this Institute but also ensured that future generations will continue to benefit from the treasures of Orthodox theology.

As we look to the future, let us be inspired by the achievements of the past 25 years but also remain vigilant in meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. In a rapidly changing world, the need for deep and thoughtful engagement with our great theological inheritance is more pressing than ever. Our mission remains clear: to educate and to inspire humankind in their journey to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Holy Archdiocese of Thyateira renews its commitment to being involved in the venerable and prestigious academic tradition of this country and to contributing to the work of this and many other academic institutions in the United Kingdom. This commitment stems in part from the ever-present concern and responsibility of our Archdiocese and Orthodox Churches around the world for the proper theological training and formation of new clergy. Let us not forget that most of the European universities began as theological schools. As a great theologian has said, from the “Querere Deum”—the search for God—the whole of European culture was born. Let us work together whenever possible to inspire younger generations to study theology and even to seek the priestly vocation within the Church.

Let us continue to nurture this community of faith and learning, drawing strength from our shared commitment to the Orthodox tradition. Together, let us build on the foundations laid by those who came before us, ever striving to deepen our understanding and to live out the truths of our faith.

Thank you all for being here today, and for your ongoing support and dedication.

With paternal blessings,

† Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain