September 12, 2013
St. Demetrios Church
Rev. Fr. Christopher T. Metropulos
815 NE 15th Ave
Ft Lauderdale, FL 33304-4402
Dear Father Metropulos and Parish Council President,
This letter concerns an upcoming religious freedom conference that is being sponsored by the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America (see www.archons.org) this December in Berlin, Germany. The mission of the Order is to protect, support and defend the Ecumenical Patriarch ate, the Spiritual Center of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians located on Istanbul, and the worldwide ministry of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. To advance that mission, over the last decade the Archons have engaged in numerous activities aimed at securing religious freedom for the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well other religious minorities in Turkey. In November 2010, the Archons sponsored a religious freedom conference which took place in the European Parliament in Brussels. That conference brought together politicians, diplomats, hum an rights lawyers and advocates, scholars, religious leaders, journalists and members of the minority communities to discuss religious freedom issues associated with religious minorities in Turkey. The conference was entitled “Religious Freedom: Turkey’s Bridge to the European Union.” It focused not only on the religious freedom of Orthodox Christians, but also that of other religious minorities, including Alevi Muslims, Armenians, Catholics, Protestant s, Jews and Syriacs. Information on the conference can found at the Archons Website. As a result of that conference, the various minority communities for the first time work ed together and engaged in substantive dialogue aimed at solving their comm on problems. This dialogue was an historic turning point for religious minorities and began an era of cooperation.
On December 4 and 5, 2013, the Archons will be sponsoring a Second International Religious Freedom Conference in Berlin, Germany. It will be entitled “Tearing Down Walls: Achieving Religious Equality in Turkey” and will again bring together politicians, diplomats, human rights lawyers and advocates, scholars, religious leaders, journalists and members of minority communities to discuss religious freedom. It will focus on two main subject areas: (I ) the concepts of equality, pluralism and state neutrality as they relate to religious freedom; and (2) the status of religious freedom under the current constitution and the proposed new constitution. It is hoped that this second conference will produce similar tangible results as the first conference.
The Order is asking a ll parishes in the Unit ed States to send a representative to the conference. Parish representation will demonstrate support for the Mother Church and send a loud message that the Church in America supports the cause of religious freedom. Accompanying this letter is the current program agenda and a brochure that contains additional conference inforn1ation, including hotel, travel and other cost information. Also enclosed is a registration form that should be returned to the Archon office in New York City, should your parish decide to send a representative. If you have questions about travel or hotel, you should email Stephen at Stephen@cloudtours.com or call him at 718-721-3808 extension 210 no later than October 10, 2013.
We look forward to your parish’s participation in this historic event and seeing you in Berlin.
Anthony J. Limberakis, MD
George C. Rocka s, Esq.