Under the co-chairmanship of Metropolitan Bishoy of Damiette of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, Anglican and Oriental Orthodox members, appointed by their Churches, met in Etchmiadzin, Armenia, at the invitation of the Catholicosate of All Armenians.
The Churches of the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches have enjoyed a long history of cordial relations and pastoral contact in many regions of the world. Here they formally began the dialogue resulting from the recommendations of the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998 and the decisions of the Oriental Orthodox Churches that the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox dialogue be upgraded from a Forum (1985-1993) to a Commission. The agenda for this meeting and the future work of the commission was established a year ago in England.
The leaders of both churches thought that the time had come to seek agreement in faith by addressing theological issues of common interest and concern, as part of the response to Jesus' prayer for the unity of his disciples.
At the meeting it was agreed that the first task of the Commission should be to "establish an agreed statement on Christology" between the family of Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. The statement will now be submitted to the authorities of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion for their consideration and action.
Other topics for the commission are related to the procession of the Holy Spirit, authority in the Church, ecclesiology, the mission of the Church, sacraments, human sexuality and other matters of concern to the Churches in their mission and pastoral care.
Catholicos Karekin II of All Armenians received the commission at a special dinner and members were able to attend the Sunday morning liturgy in the Holy Etchmiadzin cathedral and visit Tsitsernagapert, the site of Armenian Genocide Memorial and churches and monasteries in various dioceses of Armenia.
The Anglican members attended a reception held by the British Ambassador to Armenia and an Anglican Eucharist for Remembrance Sunday at St Zoravar Church in Yerevan.
Preliminary plans were made for the next meeting of the commission, which will be held in Ireland, 28 October - 2 November 2003. This meeting will consider the Procession of the Holy Spirit and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.