On November 6, with the blessing of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk arrived in the United States.
On November 7, Metropolitan Hilarion participated in the Russian-US Forum of Christian Leaders taking place in Charlotte, NC. The forum was organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and instrumental in organizing the arrival of many representatives of Christian churches in Russia and the United States.
The delegation of the Russian Orthodox Church was headed by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk. Taking part in the delegation was the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk, the vice –chairman of the DECR, Archimandrite Filaret (Bulekov); DECR Secretary for Inter-Christian Relations, Hieromonk Stephen (Igumnov); vice-rector for church-wide post-graduate and doctoral studies at the institute of Sts. Methodius and Kirill, Hieromonk John (Kopeikin); DECR staff members A. Borozov and A. Ershov.
The delegation from the Russian Federation included the Chairman of the Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptists A. Smirnov; Secretary of the UECB V. Vlasenkol; Bishop of the UECB S. Ryakhovksy; Chancellor of the Russian Union of Christian Evangelicals, K. Bendas; First-Vice Chairman of the RUCE N. Zalutsky; administrator of the RUCE I. Borichevsky; General Secretary of the Russian Evangelical Alliance S. Vvdovin.
The delegation from the United States included the president of the Evangelistic Association of Billy Grahan, Franklin Graham; First-Vice President of the Association Ken Barun; Vice President of the Association V. Gamm; representatives of the Association; Protestant Organizations, Baptist, Methodist and other various denominations.
The forum was opened by Franklin Graham, who underlined the long-standing relationship between the Association and the Russian Orthodox Church when his father, Billy Graham made numerous trips to the Soviet Union beginning in 1959.
His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion underlined in his speech the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Christian churches of the United States which was very active in the second half of the twentieth century. In the early 2000’s the Moscow Patriarchate suspended conversations between some Protestant organizations because of the liberalization of their beliefs and practices as well as proselytizing activity of the latter on the territory of Russia. At the same time, the Russian Orthodox Church has remained open to cooperation with the North American churches that have remained faithful to the traditions of the bilateral dialogue and strong commitment to biblical morality.
Speaking about the prospects of such an interaction, Metropolitan Hilarion said that his foundation can be laid primarily on working together in today’s society to uphold traditional moral practices. One of the priorities of inter-Christian cooperation should be the protection of Christians who today are subjected to persecution in several regions of the world. Special attention was given to the report of the situation in Ukraine and the related humanitarian crisis.
His Grace Bishop John dedicated his lecture to the problem of secularism. The other speakers at the forum dedicated their lectures to the importance of being a Christian witness in today’s society.
Later that day, Metropolitan Hilarion visited Dr. Billy Graham, who was celebrating his 96th birthday on the day of the forum.
Article/ Photos by the DECR Communication Service
Translation by the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA