On November 8, 2014 Archbishop Foley Beach met with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, Chairman of the Department of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.
The meeting, welcomed by Metropolitan Hilarion at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York, was an opportunity to meet Archbishop Beach, as well as continue the ecumenical dialogue between faithful Anglicans in North America and the Orthodox Churches.
Bishop Ray Sutton, Provincial Dean and Dean of Ecumenical Affairs was also present at the meeting, and was encouraged by the extension of ecumenical continuity, “Metropolitan Hilarion was with us when we met together for dialogue at Nashotah House in 2012, at which time he expressed a desire to continue Anglican/Orthodox dialogue through the Anglican Church in North America, and this meeting tonight with Archbishop Beach further encourages the strengthening of ties between the Anglican Church in North America and Orthodox churches in this part of the world.”
Archbishop Beach commented on the meeting, “Metropolitan Hilarion has spent no small amount of time with Anglicans around the world, and over the years he has been a prophetic voice calling the Anglican Church to remain true to the Christian faith in the face of an increasing propensity for cultural accommodation. The conversation tonight was a pleasure, and I look forward to finding the ways in which we might partner for the cause of the Gospel.”
During the meeting, Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America warmly invited Archbishop Beach to the Orthodox All-American Council meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2015.
Archpriest Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary remarked, “The re-birth of Anglican/Orthodox relations is now a reality with the official exchanges between the ACNA and the OCA and clearly now with the Russian Orthodox Church through the leadership of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. The historical significance of this meeting of Archbishop Beach with His Beatitude Tikhon of the OCA and Metropolitan Hilarion is truly significant as a sign of this refreshed dialogue.”
Later in the evening Archbishop Beach and the Anglican bishops were invited to process in the ceremonies at which Metropolitan Hilarion received a doctorate in divinity (honoris causa) from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and presented a lecture on the relationship between Primacy and Conciliarity.
As the various branches of the Orthodox Church prepare for an historic global gathering in 2016, the lecture highlighted the Russian Orthodox Church’s understanding of the conciliar nature of church councils.
Bishop Kevin Allen, head of the Anglican/Orthodox dialogue in North America and the Anglican Bishop of Cascadia noted the parallels with the GAFCON movement: “The Orthodox churches have always recognized the importance of conciliar leadership. The Ecumenical Patriarch is “Primus Inter Pares” (the first among equals), having a role to play in gathering the Orthodox churches, but the ongoing work of the Church, centered on the Gospel, is done with collegiality and consensus. This ancient model is also evident in the structure of the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (GFCA). As Chairman of the GFCA, Archbishop Wabukala has been faithful to call the Primates together at regular intervals, and once called together the Primates Council has worked to build consensus in a way that models Christian commitment, charity, and unity.”