His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, world Orthodox leader, said that all official theological dialogues with Lutherans in the United States will continue, along with a longstanding global dialogue with Lutherans, according to the ELCA website. He made the comment as he hosted an official delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Istanbul on February 8, 2010.
Leading the official 12-member ELCA delegation was the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop and president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
With only a few thousand Orthodox Christians left in Turkey -- and nearly 70 million Muslims -- the Orthodox are often the subject of discrimination, the Ecumenical Patriarch said. He added that as Christians, they must always "remain optimistic and never despair."
Rev. Hanson said the ELCA delegation was honored to be meeting with the Orthodox. "I'm always struck by your faithful witness in the shadow of the cross," he told the world Orthodox leader.