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Monday, 26 September 2011

Ecumenical cooperation deepens between London and Athens


Apostoli Delegation with the Archbishop

The world may be looking at the economic difficulties facing Greece which may possibly have to default on some of its debt. Meanwhile, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens and the Church of England are committed to learn from each other and cooperate on matters of social outreach to the poor and marginalised.
Last week, a high level delegation from the Archdiocese of Athens spent several days visiting schools, programmes and outreach projects of the Diocese of London. The delegation was led by Mr Constantine Dimtsas the Director General of Apostoli, the Archdiocese’s welfare programme, and included Dr Vassi Leontari, the Director of Programmes and International Co-operation, Dr Vasilis Meichanetsidis, the Ecumenical Officer of the Archdiocese, and Mr Emilios Polygenis, the Director of the Orthodox News Agency, Romfea
On Thursday 22nd February I took the delegation to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Dr Rowan Williams and Mr Dimtsas were able to discuss aspects of the economic crisis in Greece. Mr Dimtsas stated that there are over 800,000 migrants in Athens alone, but soon over 150,000 civil servants will made redundant in the economic cuts. With their families, this will add another estimated 600,000 souls among the poor in the city. "In the current economic crisis the problem of hunger in particular is spreading across a wide range of society”, said Mr Dimtsas. The Archbishop recalled his own visit to Athens earlier this year, when he visited some of the work including the feeding programme of Apostoli.  “The problems of Greece are in our minds every day. We realize how serious the concerns are at this time. I assure you that I pray for Greece and I support any cooperation between our Churches as we address these challenges", said Archbishop Rowan.
Plans are developing for cooperation on issues of charity to the homeless and immigrants, youth work and education.
Our own chaplain in Athens, the Revd Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, is a key collaborator with the work of Apostoli. His ecumenical commitment in support of the work of the Greek Church is highly valued and appreciated by Orthodox Archdiocese. 
Mr Constantine Dimtsas, the Director of Apostoli

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