PRESS RELEASE: IOTA’s Inaugural Conference is the largest International Gathering of Orthodox Scholars in Modern History

The Holy and Great Council of Crete in 2016 demonstrated that pan-Orthodox gatherings are possible in our time. In response to the call of the conciliar spirit, and with the blessing of the Church leadership, the International Orthodox Theological Association (IOTA) assembled for its Inaugural Conference in Iaşi, Romania on January 9-12, 2019. Founded by Dr. Paul L. Gavrilyuk (President), Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak (Vice-President and Treasurer), Dr. Carrie Frederick Frost (Secretary), and a group of leading scholars (Group Chairs), IOTA’s mission is to promote the international exchange of knowledge within the context of the Orthodox tradition.

Left to Right: Dr. Gayle Woloschak (IOTA Vice-President), Metropolitan Teofan of Iasi (host), Dr. Carrie Frederick Frost (IOTA Secretary), Dr. Paul L. Gavrilyuk (IOTA President)

The overarching theme of the conference was Pan-Orthodox Unity and Conciliarity. The Keynote Address was given by His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). As Metropolitan Kallistos noted in his speech: “We have to confess, with humility and realism, that while we affirm synodality in theory, all too often we have neglected it in practice.” IOTA rose to this challenge by providing a vivid experience of “conciliarity from below.” With several hundred scholars from over 40 countries and all six continents, the Inaugural Conference was the largest and the most representative gathering of Orthodox church leaders, scholars, and professionals in modern history.

Opening Day Te Deum Service at the Metropolitan’s Cathedral. Presider: Metropolitan Teofan of Iasi.

The list of conference speakers was a “Who’s Who” of global Orthodoxy. Attendees included experts in multiple disciplines, including not only theology but also natural science, history, philosophy, political science, medicine, linguistics, and the arts. A broad variety of topics were discussed in over 70 separate sessions, from fundamental philosophical and theological issues to the urgent questions of our time. Classical issues included such topics as Orthodox approaches to scripture, the doctrine of the trinity, and spirituality of Philokalia. Contemporary issues included the controversial church situation in Ukraine, ecological challenges, and the role of women in church life. A wide range of views was presented in an atmosphere of openness and collegiality.

IOTA’s Inaugural Conference. Opening Ceremony at the National Theatre of Iasi, Romania

The event began with a worship service offered by Metropolitan Teofan of Iaşi. It also included opportunities for communal worship, two sacred art exhibits, a pilgrimage to local monasteries, and a book exhibit to benefit emerging Orthodox scholars. The gathering was also enriched by the participation of presenters and observers from a variety of non-Orthodox faith traditions. Conference participants reported not only appreciation of the quality of the scholarly presentations, but also their delight at interacting with such a diverse gathering and a sense of spiritual renewal. Many also expressed gratitude for the overwhelming hospitality provided by Archdiocese of Iaşi and Doxologia Publishing House, whose staff, clergy, and volunteers, headed by the Cultural Advisor to the Archdiocese of Iasi and IOTA Site Chair, Mr. Catalin Jeckel, worked tirelessly to make the unprecedented event possible.

IOTA’s Inaugural Conference, Closing Reception

The conference was organized with the support of the Archdiocese of Iasi; Mayor’s Office of the City of Iasi; Doxologia Publishing House (Iasi, Romania); St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (USA), Huffington Ecumenical Institute, Loyola Marymount University (USA); Orthodox Christian Studies Center, Fordham University (USA); Aquinas Chair, Theology Department, University of St. Thomas, St Paul, Minnesota (USA); Sankt Ignatios Theological Academy (Sweden); Orthodox Theological Society in America, and other organizations.

IOTA scholars on a pilgrimage to the Bukovina monasteries

INAUGURAL CONFERENCE IN THE NEWS. The IOTA 2019 Conference has received wide international coverage. News releases, blogs, and articles about the conference in Bulgarian, English, German, Greek, Russian, and other languages are listed on this page. If you published a piece about IOTA, send a note to [email protected].

IOTA YOUTUBE CHANNEL now includes videos from the Inaugural Conference in Iasi, Romania (January 2019): Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s Keynote LecturePresidential Address3-Minute Session SummariesComments of Ecumenical ObserversPresentations about Orthodox Theological Institutions, and selected 20-Minute Presentations. The Channel has a growing number of 370+ subscribers and has been viewed over 23,000 times.

PODCASTS of over 300 Iasi Conference Presentations have been published in partnership with Ancient Faith Ministries here. Please help us reach an even larger audience by sharing your favorite videos and podcasts on social media.

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