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MAY – JUNE 2009 • Vol. 74 • No. 1249 • e-mail: $1.00 President Meets Privately with Ecumenical Patriarch ISTANBUL - President Barack Obama held a private meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Conrad Hotel during the President’s recent visit to Turkey. Archbishop Demetrios and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel also were present. The meeting and ensuing discussion were marked by a spirit of warm cordiality and mutual respect. The substance of the discussions included His All Holiness’ expression of gratitude to President Obama for his strong support of religious freedom and raising before the Turkish Parliament itself the issue of opening up Halki Seminary as a tangible sign of Turkey’s commitment to enter the European Union. He also thanked the President for discussing these issues personally with Prime Minister Erdogan and President Gul of the Turkish Republic. President Obama said he would follow up on these issues with a view to a favorable solution for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. His All Holiness made reference to the following points: • He made a convincing and passionate argument for the speedy re-opening of the Theological School of Halki, a basic need for the education and preparation White House Photo-Pete Souza President Obama speaks with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at their meeting in an Istanbul hotel. Archbishop Demetrios is at left. of clergy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. • He emphasized the importance of religious liberty and the guarantee of same for all minorities of Turkey. • He stated his well–known and long–time support for the efforts of Turkey to join the European Union. • He noted the significance of efforts Archbishops Dedicate New OCMC Administrative & Training Center by Jim Golding ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The Orthodox missions program has taken a giant step forward with the dedication of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s new training facility on May 20-21. The Archbishop Anastasios and Archbishop Demetrios Training and Administration Building marks the first joint project of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas and drew more than 200 Orthodox Christians from the SCOBA Churches to the two–day event that was beset by almost continuous rain that drenched much of northeastern Florida. The training center represents an investment of about $4 million: $3 million for the 12,000 square–foot building and another $1 million to acquire and develop the 20-acre site near Interstate 95, a few miles from St. Augustine. This includes building a paved road, installing utilities, constructing a retaining pond, and landscaping. The event was preceded by a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy for the Feast Day of Sts. Constantine and Helen, officiated by Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, the host hierarch, at Holy Trinity Church a few minutes from the center. At the actual dedication and thyranoixia (opening of the doors) on May 21, attendees stood under a large tent in front of the building, as the two Archbishops made on behalf of the environment, adding information on his own upcoming Ecological Symposium in the U.S. (Mississippi River) in October. • He thanked President Obama for this meeting and for his sincere amid active interest in the pressing issues of religious freedom and human rights for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other minorities in Turkey. His All Holiness mentioned that he had sent to the President, through the local U.S. Consul General, an icon of the Prophet Baruch (patron of the President) with a handwritten inscription. He also congratulated the President for the championship victory of the University of North Carolina’s Basketball Team, which the President had predicted would win. “As the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we are much more optimistic about the opening of the Halki Seminary,” His All Holiness said in a statement after the meeting. “The Halki seminary is not a matter of prestige for us. Opening this school is a true necessity for our Patriarchate to fulfill its religious mission.” In a speech to the Turkish parliament on Monday, President Obama said that re-opening the Halki seminary would “send a strong signal inside Turkey and beyond” that Turkey respected freedom of religion and expression. The European Union has urged Turkey to open the seminary, located on an island off the coast of Istanbul and shuttered for almost four decades, in order to meet its political criteria for membership. Turkey has argued that having a seminary in Istanbul would violate the country’s secular order. Archbishop Presents Award to Hillary Clinton by Stavros H. Papagermanos sional lightning did not dampen the spirits of the participants. For the dedication, Archbishop Anastasios brought relics of St. Cosmas Aitolos, who evangelized communities throughout Greece in the 18th century. “His work saved many Orthodox communities,” His WASHINGTON – Archbishop Demetrios presented a special award to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on May 22 during a small ceremony at the State Department on behalf of several Hellenic organizations. The ceremony took place in the Treaty Room shortly after Secretary Clinton received Archbishop Demetrios and a delegation of leaders of the National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH) who were participating in the 25th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference, taking place in Washington May 20-22. The special award was presented “in light of unprecedented steps that   page 4   page 9 D. PANAGOS Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and Archbishop Demetrios view the dedication plaque at the entrance to the building named in their honor. and other hierarchs and OCMC officials stood under a smaller tent in front of the entrance. Archbishop Demetrios noted the religious significance of the tent from Old Testament times. The Bible notes that, after their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites used a large tent called a tabernacle. Intermittent rain, thunder and occa-

Orthodox Observer - May/June 2009

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