The Orthodox Church in Kenya is the fastest growing Orthodox Church in the world, numbering some 1.5 million souls in 250 parishes—30 in Nairobi alone. From November 10–17, 2015, Dr. Paul Meyendorff, The Father Alexander Schmemann Professor of Liturgical Theology, traveled to the Archbishop Makarios Orthodox Seminary in Nairobi, Kenya, accompanied by Fr. Rauno Pietarinen (SVOTS 1980). The Seminary will be the recipient of this year's #GivingTuesday tithe, following St. Vladimir's participation in this day of philanthrophy on December 1.
The primary purpose of Dr. Meyendorff's meeting was to assist the Seminary in its plans to upgrade its academic standards and to seek formal accreditation. Father Rauno and Dr. Meyendorff are founding members of an Orthodox Working Group for improving the quality of Orthodox theological education, a group that has in recent years met in Finland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, and now Kenya.
The two met with Archbishop Makarios of Kenya, as well as the Seminary's dean and faculty. Archimandrite Philip Mugadizi (SVOTS '03) serves the Seminary as its assistant dean. While there, Dr. Meyendorff also delivered five lectures on liturgical topics to groups of students, as well as a public lecture, "Towards a Baptismal Ecclesiology," to an audience of 200 persons from throughout Kenya.
On Sunday, November 15, Fr. Rauno and Dr. Meyendorff accompanied Archbishop Makarios to a small, tin-roofed church not far from the Seminary, where Fr. Mugadizi is the rector. "I was moved by the deep faith of the congregation, as evidenced by their enthusiastic singing," noted Prof. Meyendorff.
Prior to the African journey, Prof. Meyendorff traveled to Chalki Seminary in Istanbul, Turkey on November 4–8, to attend the twelfth annual meeting of the St. Irenaeus Joint Orthodox-Catholic Working Group. The papers at this year's meeting dealt with the emergence of national churches in 19th-century Orthodoxy, the notion of communio/koinonia, its ecumenical relevance, and the understanding of authority in the Church. In addition, intensive work took place on the draft of a document which is meant to give an overview of the work done over the years by the Working Group. The Group is composed of 26 theologians, 13 Orthodox and 13 Catholic, from a number of European countries and the United States.