The Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited London this week, in response to an official invitation by His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Justin Welby. As part of his visit to the United Kingdom, our Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain organised a Gala Dinner in his honour, at the Marriott Hotel in Central London, following a Doxology at the Cathedral of Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in Bayswater.
Following our Archbishop Gregorios' welcome, Mr Marios Minaides, the Chairman of the Association of Greek Orthodox Communities in Great Britain, spoke of our Patriarch's wonderful efforts to promote the protection of God's creation. Mr Minaides emphasised how we, as Orthodox Christians, can only admire and embrace His All-Holiness' respect for the environment, his promotion of world peace, reconciliation, and religious freedom, and of course his overall contribution to, and love for, Christ's Church.
During the event, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Archbishop of Canterbury stressed the importance of sharing a meal together; uniting one another in friendship and understanding, celebrating the shared belief and trust in our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Following on from His All-Holiness' earlier speech at the Cathedral, Welby importantly stated that although there are several differences between the Orthodox Church and the Anglican communion, we must not be concerned with what is unfinished, but trust that God will, in time, complete and fulfil what we ourselves have failed to complete.
The successful, and well-organised evening, consisting of the Doxology in Agia Sophia, and the Gala Dinner in the Marriott, was a way of giving the faithful an opportunity to pray with, greet, and joyfully share a meal with His All-Holiness - the spiritual leader of our Mother Church. As a Biblical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople, our active Archdiocese, through this event, highlighted that its efforts to serve the faithful of Great Britain continue to bear fruit; with all its diverse, inclusive and welcoming communities gathered together in Christ, upholding and celebrating our living Byzantine, Constantinopolitan ecclesiastical tradition, in the United Kingdom.
Please visit Protopresbyter Anastasios Salapatas' post on the event for more photographs (as well as information in Greek) :