He entered the Theological School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in and graduated in with a diploma with highest honors in Theology. After graduation he served for two years with the Greek army. Following his national service and his recognizing a desire to be part of the spirit renewal on-going in Greece, Anastasios joined a religious brotherhood ZOE where he became a leader in making the Orthodox faith real in student movements and teenage camps. Later, he participated in the international Orthodox youth movement Syndesmos, becoming its general secretary from to and then vice-president from to In , he was ordained a deacon , beginning his career in the Holy Orders. After receiving his diaconate, Dn.
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An apostle of peace and reconciliation, since meeting him in , he is one of my greatest role models. For the first half of the twentieth century, the Orthodox Church was relatively inactive in missions. The great missionary efforts of the Russian church came to a close as the Communist curtain placed the church in bondage. Meanwhile, the Orthodox churches of the Balkans struggled to overcome the effects of the previous five centuries of Muslim subjugation.
From an international Orthodox youth conference held in in Athens, a call toward missions began to develop. Despite the struggling situation of a poor church just freed from bondage, the apostolic call of the Lord demanded a response.
The leader of this fledgling group was Anastasios Yannoulatos, a young Orthodox theologian from Greece. He challenged the Church of Greece, as well as the Orthodox Church at large, to recover its long-held missionary tradition. Yannoulatos challenged the Church of Greece, as well as the Orthodox Church at large, to recover its long-held missionary tradition.
Yannoulatos challenged the Eastern Church. This movement began to produce a journal in Greek and English called Porefthentes. For missionary work has always been a tradition within the Orthodox Church…. Yannoulatos emerged as a leading missions advocate in the following years. He even hoped to establish some type of external Orthodox mission center. His enthusiasm, however, was derided within most Orthodox circles as an unrealistic goal.
But as Christians we do believe in miracles. The life and work of Anastasios Yannoulatos, probably the foremost Orthodox missiologist in the world today, exemplifies the realization of this miracle in the contemporary Orthodox Church.
Raised within the faith, he participated actively in the church during his formative years. His first great interest was in mathematics, and throughout his teenage years Yannoulatos thought of pursuing a career in this field. His views changed with the coming of World War II. During the war years, Yannoulatos began to experience his faith in a very personal way. For the world and for his own country to recover from the evil of both the Second World War and the ensuing Greek Civil War, Yannoulatos understood the urgent need for a message of eternal peace, the peace that comes through Jesus Christ.
This experience led Yannoulatos to abandon his interest in other disciplines and to pursue theology. I wanted to live with my whole being in Christ.
He graduated with highest honors in Following two years of service in the army, Yannoulatos joined the brotherhood of ZOE, a religious organization focused on the spiritual renewal of the church in Greece. He realized that without such missionary outreach, the church loses its focus and ultimately diminishes.
During these years, Yannoulatos also participated in an international Orthodox youth movement called Syndesmos. He served as the general secretary of the Committee for Missions during , and as vice-president of the whole movement from to Here he met other young leaders with a similar zeal for proclaiming the Gospel. Together they began to realize how Christ could never be satisfied with proclaiming the Gospel simply within the church.
If the Church is indifferent to the apostolic work with which she has been entrusted, she denies herself, contradicts herself and her essence, and is a traitor in the warfare in which she is engaged. A static Church which lacks vision and a constant endeavor to proclaim the Gospel to the oikoumene could hardly be recognized as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church to whom the Lord entrusted the continuation of His Work.
The goal of this center was to educate the church in the area of missions, as well as to motivate and send missionaries throughout the world. Church without mission is a contradiction in terms…. In fact, immediately following his ordination to the priesthood on May 24, , he left for East Africa and celebrated his first liturgy in Uganda.
Shortly after his arrival, however, the young priest contracted malaria and returned to Greece. Following the advice of one of his professors, Yannoulatos decided the best way he could influence the church was by making a significant contribution in the academic world. He believed that if he could not directly work in the mission field, he could still try to pave the way for others to go.
Thus, he decided to pursue further studies in missiology and the history of religions. His work focused on the general history of religions, African religions, missiology, and ethnology. Through this research, he sought support for his original thesis that it was impossible to truly be Orthodox without having an interest in missions.
Along with his studies, Yannoulatos actively participated in the worldwide ecumenical movement. He has continued to play a pivotal role in this ecumenical setting and ultimately served as its moderator from to , the first Orthodox missiologist to hold such a place of leadership. The s-Planting Missionary Foundations Within the Church During the following decade, the Church of Greece began to hear and respond to the voice of this bold visionary.
The establishment of a permanent missionary organization within the official Orthodox Church in Greece was a milestone.
Along with his ecclesiastical responsibilities, Bishop Anastasios continued to be active on the academic level. This center paved the way for another landmark, when a chair of missiology was finally created in Its field of action is universal and is active both in sectors that welcome the good tidings and those which at first may reject them.
Mission was not the duty of only the first generation of Christians. It is the duty of Christians of all ages Witness is the expression of the vitality of the Church as well as a source of renewal and renewed vigor…. Everyone should contribute to and participate in it, whether it be directly or indirectly. It is an essential expression of the Orthodox ethos.
In the bishop worked together with Fr. Anthony Romeos and founded a monastery of nuns whose emphasis would be on external missions. This group became the Convent of St. John the Forerunner in Kareas, Greece. Bishop Anastasios helped guide these women to become nuns who would actively participate in missionary work throughout the world.
The s-Theory Becomes Practice In the s,when Yannoulatos first fell ill to malaria, his doctors told him that he would never be able to work overseas as a missionary. The providence of God spoke differently. In the Orthodox Church of East Africa faced great difficulties.
The region had been the most active Orthodox mission field in the world over the past two decades. The East African Orthodox Church seemed to be on the verge of collapse. The bishop consented but continued to keep his responsibilities both at the University of Athens and in Apostoliki Diakonia. His main priority was to create a strong Orthodox community led by local leaders.
The school remained vacant for ten years. Yannoulatos realized that the only way to bring these people back, as well as to bring new converts into the faith, was through the training of local leaders and priests.
Over the following decade, the school averaged 45 students annually, using 12 professors from East Africa, Europe, and the United States.
Along with training local leaders, the acting archbishop also supported the Orthodox missionary tradition of translation, which he believed was sanctioned by Christ during the event of Pentecost. Thus, he concentrated on publications, organizing the translation of services into seven different languages. He also helped renovate 25 existing church buildings.
His construction accomplishments included seven mission stations, seven health-care stations, five primary schools, and twelve nursery schools. His work in Africa drew worldwide attention. The impact of these missionaries was felt not only within the Church of East Africa but also throughout America.
It was instead his efforts to assimilate with the indigenous Christians. By identifying closely with the Orthodox Christians of this region, he encouraged and empowered them to embrace the faith as authentically their own. In addition to his achievements in Africa, Bishop Anastasios has left his mark in other ways. This magazine continues to disseminate mission information and challenge Orthodox Christians throughout Greece to respond to the missionary mandate.
His missiological impact not only influenced the Orthodox world but also touched broad ecumenical circles. The cross-fertilization in the area of Missiology between Orthodoxy and Protestantism has indeed been a major area of theological renewal in the ecumenical movement since Only three papers were read in the conference plenary during the first few days. His task then became one of reestablishing the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. The Orthodox Church in Albania had been decimated after forty years of the most severe persecution.
During the years of Communist control the number of Orthodox clergy had diminished from in to 22 in All the surviving clergy were over the age of seventy. Anastasios saw this new challenge as an opportunity to synthesize the elements of his life. Before Communism, Albania was a country with a 69 percent Muslim population.
Archbishop Anastasios had written a book and many articles on Islam. But as his life has shown, Archbishop Anastasios believes in miracles. The school presently has a three-year program, with each class containing approximately thirty students. These organizations have participated in the overall ministry of preaching, teaching, and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ to believers in cities and villages throughout Albania. The archbishop has also organized work in a variety of other areas.
He is helping to reestablish the physical presence of Orthodoxy by building and renovating churches throughout Albania. At present, thirty-eight new churches have been built, and forty-three others have been renovated. Sixty other projects, which include church centers and a medical clinic, are in progress.
A printing house produces the monthly newspaper Ngjallja Resurrection , along with Orthodox books and various catechetical materials. Its goal is to disseminate church news and religious education throughout the country. Another office, called Service of Love, is devoted to a social outreach ministry, which helps distribute humanitarian aid and cultivate long-term developmental projects.
Anastasios of Albania
On 24 December he became an Albanian citizen. He is the head of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. During his military service —54 he attended the Schools of the Reserve Offices of Syros and of the MB Signals to both first in rank and chief of School. After the Albania earthquake , the primate of the Orthodox Church of Albania received a letter of solidarity from Rev Olav Fykse Tveit on behalf of the WCC, which affirms that "the poignant images of devastation and destruction grieve us greatly, as do the accounts of families left destitute by this event, especially as winter fast approaches".