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Orthodoxy, the Environment and Ecumenism

Orthodoxy, the Environment and Ecumenism

LMU’s Department of Theological Studies and the Huffington Ecumenical Institute presented the 3rd Ecumenical Symposium, “Orthodoxy, the Environment and Ecumenism,” on Thursday, Feb. 21. Special guest Reverend John Chryssavgis visited LMU to discuss Christian responses to the environmental crisis as part of the panel.

As the Deacon of Ecumenical Office of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Advisor to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Environmental Affairs, Chryssavgis has dedicated his life’s work to educating others around the world about environmental and theological practices.

Chryssavgis spoke to an audience that included representatives of various religious groups. He expressed that the environmental crisis will be resolved only when individuals recognize the interdependence of all persons and things on earth.

“The crisis that we are facing is not primarily ecological, it has more to do with spirituality and icons,” explained Chryssavgis, “The way we imagine the world is an inhumane way to see it … we are not seeing the world as it really is -- a gift from God.”

Among the projects Chryssavgis is involved with are the Religion, Science and the Environment Symposia which take scientists, environmentalists, policy-makers and representatives of the world’s main religious faiths on voyages to study the fate of the world’s main bodies of water. These assemblies have drawn global attention to promote building capacities for environmental improvement.

“Too often we are sure we have the solution without listening to the earth … It is our very actions in the first place that have led us to this situation and perhaps the first step is not to act, but to stop and reflect,” said Chryssavgis.

Douglas E. Burton-Christie, professor of theological studies and Eric D. Perl, associate professor of philosophy at LMU were also a part of the panel and commented on the deacon’s remarks.

“Concern for the environment is something that unites Christians, since we are not discussing our differences, but instead focusing on our common responsibility,” said Dorian Llywelyn, interim director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute.

LMU established the Huffington Ecumenical Institute with the support of philanthropist Michael Huffington and the Archangel Michael Foundation in 2007. The institute focuses on promoting dialogue and constructive encounters among the religious leaders, theologians and members of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

To learn more about the Huffington Ecumenical Institute, please click here.