The Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, has been appointed as the co-chair of the official international group responsible for ecumenical dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission (AOOIC) was formed in 2001 to build unity between the Churches of the two families of Churches.
The Anglican Communion comprises 42 autonomous and independent-yet-interdependent regional, national and pan-national churches. Six Oriental Orthodox Churches are represented in the Dialogue. There are an estimated 140 million Christians in the two Communions. AOOIC brings together church leaders and theologians from both to further the work of Christian unity.
AOOIC has two Co-Chairs. The Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, is the Oriental Orthodox Co-Chair. The Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson from the Church of Ireland now succeeds the Bishop of St Asaph from the Church in Wales, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, as the Anglican Co-Chair.
“I feel honoured to be invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury to serve as Anglican Co-chair of The Anglican Oriental Orthodox International Commission”, Archbishop Michael said. “The Dialogue is something of which I have been privileged to be part since 2002. Throughout that period, we have addressed a wide range of issues of importance to the various traditions involved in the Dialogue.
“One of the major changes to have happened is that the movements of people worldwide have brought us all closer together both personally and theologically. This constantly enriches and enhances our range of engagement and makes our Dialogue both ancient and modern at the same time.
“I want to thank my predecessor, the Rt Reverend Dr Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St Asaph and before him the Rt Reverend Dr Geoffrey Rowell, now sadly deceased, and also my fellow Co-Chair, Archbishop Angaelos, for all their work and sustained contributions.”
Archbishop Angaelos said: “We give thanks for the contribution of the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron over the past nine years, who has not only contributed richly to the life of the Commission, but also exhibited exemplary leadership as the Anglican Co-Chair. I am thankful for the fellowship I have shared with him over these past years.
“As Oriental Orthodox members of the Commission, we extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to Bishop Gregory, and look forward to continuing our work with His Grace Archbishop Michael Jackson as Anglican Co-Chair, who has been a valued member of the Commission since its establishment.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, said: “Archbishop Michael has vast ecumenical and Anglican Communion experience and has been a member of AOOIC since its beginning. He now brings this knowledge, and his many other gifts, to the role of Co-Chair of AOOIC.
“The deepening friendship between Anglicans and Oriental Orthodox brings me great joy, and I pray that this may continue to grow with God’s help, and that the work of AOOIC may be a blessing to us all as we seek to achieve the unity which Christ wills.”
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Anthony Poggo, said: “Since 2002, AOOIC has made a significant contribution in bringing Christians from the Oriental Orthodox and Anglican Churches closer together, and in their valuable theological work for both families.
“I welcome Archbishop Michael Jackson’s acceptance of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to serve as the Anglican Co-Chair of this dialogue; and look forward to seeing the results of ongoing and future work on Authority.”
In 2014, AOOIC signed an agreed statement on Christology. This was followed in 2017 by an agreed statement on “The Procession and Work of the Holy Spirit”, and a statement on “The Inheritance of Ecumenical Councils” in 2022. AOOIC is currently exploring further questions of Authority in the Church.