Bishop Allin in Russia For Talks with Patriarch

Episcopal News Service. July 14, 1977 [77235]

New York, N.Y. -- The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. John M. Allin, is in Russia for a visit with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, His Holiness Pimen. This is the third visit of an Episcopal Presiding Bishop to the Orthodox Church of Russia. The first was Bishop Sherrill during the primacy of the late Patriarch Alexei. The second was a visit of Presiding Bishop John E. Hines in 1972 on the first anniversary of Pimen as Alexeis successor.

Bishop Allin, accompanied by two priests and two laymen, will join with Russian Orthodox dignitaries and a great crowd of pilgrims in Zagorsk on July 17 to celebrate the feast of St. Sergius, the patron saint of the Russians.

St. Sergius, whose name now appears in the Calendar of the Episcopal Church, lived during the time of Tatar overlordship, and his gift of inspiring intense devotion to the Orthodox faith resulted from his Christian personal life-style. His name is familiar to Anglicans from the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius, a society to promote relations between the Anglican and Russian Churches.

The Presiding Bishop welcomes this first event as symbolizing and emphasizing the nature of his journey -- to share in the worship of God and veneration of the saints and after that to hold conversations at the Patriarchate on matters of mutual interest among Christians.

Both Bishop Hines and Bishop Allin began their series of visits to Orthodox Church leaders with a journey to Istanbul to cement relations with the head of the Orthodox Christians of the world, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Bishop Hines' visit was in 1967 to His All Holiness Athenagoras. Bishop Allin's was in 1975, to his successor, His Holiness Dimitrios.

As the head of a member Church of the Anglican Communion, the Presiding Bishop engages not only in continuing relationships with other Anglican Churches but the development of closer ties with other bishops of the Holy Catholic Church. He does so, not only as an individual, but as a chief pastor, charged by Church canons with developing the policy and strategy of the Church and with "speaking God's word to the Church and to the World, as the representative of this Church and its episcopate in its corporate capacity."

Relationships with the Russian Orthodox Church extend back to 1876, when "Russian America" was purchased by the United States and renamed Alaska. An unplanned aspect of the bargain was that the United States received the thriving missionary congregations of the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian missionaries had also founded churches as far south as San Francisco before the Episcopal Church was formally organized in California, and cordial relationships continued as Russian immigrants from European Russia came in growing numbers to other states. During Bishop Hines' s visit, Patriarch Pimen, remarking on this history, expressed the hope that "the mutual relations between our churches in no wise darkened in the past, will in the future be filled with good will."

In such a visit, it is assumed by both sides that the participants are patriotic citizens of their respective countries, but the conversations are non-political in content. In the world tensions of today, the Churches are concerned to promote peace and friendship among peoples, but leave to governments the task of settling national and international difficulties. The Episcopal Church will give information on two issues that have given concern to the Orthodox from actions of the 1976 General Convention: ordination of women to the priesthood and the "Filioque" -- the clause in the Nicene Creed which speaks of the Holy Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son. Western Christians use this addition to the creed called Nicene, but actually adopted by the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, I, while Eastern Christians reject the addition as an unauthorized interpolation. In addition, the work for uniting of the Orthodox and Anglican Churches will be discussed, particularly the Anglican-Orthodox Joint Doctrinal Discussions.

Accompanying the Presiding Bishop will be Dr. Peter Day, Ecumenical Officer, Dr. Paul B. Anderson, a consultant on Orthodox relations well known to the leaders of Orthodoxy, the Rev. William A. Norgren, chaplain and specialist in Orthodox relations, and the Rev. Richard J. Anderson.

A 2,400-mile round trip to Soviet Armenia will give Bishop Allin the opportunity of meeting His Holiness Vasken I, Catholicos and Patriarch of All Armenians, to strengthen ties with this ancient Church and people, the first nation to accept Christianity. There are 372,000 Armnenians in the States who follow him as their spiritual leader.

The Episcopal Church, with other U.S. Churches, participates in the Moscow chaplaincy to Americans and other English-speaking residents of Moscow, made possible by the Roosevelt-Litvinoff agreements establishing diplomatic relationships between the two countries. Episcopalians and Anglicans of other nations form a substantial part of this congregation, and Bishop Allin looks forward to meeting with them during his stay in Moscow.