Over the last decade, Eastern Orthodox women have reached significant milestones regarding their participation in church life, but many of their concerns have not yet been fully addressed, an international gathering of Orthodox women has stated.
A long decade has past since the last inter-Orthodox women's consultation took place in Istanbul, Turkey in 1997. In the intervening years, the participation of Orthodox women in the life of the church has improved, they say.
Changes range from the recognition of women's issues by church structures to women's participation in some church ministries and decision-making processes.
Many of the concerns of women, however, have not yet been fully addressed within the life of the church. A list of them includes: access to and funding for theological studies and subsequent employment opportunities within the church; supporting and equipping women for pastoral care and other church ministries; participation in church decision-making processes; taking a new look at prayers and practices associated with women's biology.
These were amongst the main findings of a five-day long consultation, which brought together some 45 women from Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and North America. Meeting from 8-12 June in Volos, Greece, they discussed the participation, ministry and concerns of Orthodox women in the church and in the ecumenical movement.
Participants at the consultation recommended undertaking a full assessment of the current situation and needs of Orthodox women, given the many changes that have taken place over the last decade, as well as the development of a framework for future action.
"We see the need to identify, together with our church leadership, the ways and instruments to implement decisions and recommendations of women's consultations in our churches", the participants stated in a report on the deliberations.
The consultation took place at the Volos Academy for Theological Studies and was sponsored by the World Council of Churches Programme for Women in Church and Society and hosted by the Diocese of Dimitrias.
Full text of the Report of the Inter-Orthodox Consultation