Among the activities organised for the annual congress of the National Association of Hellenic Youth Organisations of South Africa, Nahysosa was a forum on religion. This was attended by His Eminence Archbishop Sergios and Protopresbyter Fr. Constantinos Kosmidis.
Fr. Constantinos introduced the topic — The responsibility of Hellenes abroad. He has worked overseas for a number of years both in Austria and Germany. One of the points made was that Constantinople and the New Roman Empire were Orthodox, not only for the Greek civilization but for Greeks and all Romans.
Recent persecution of the minority of Greek Orthodox who have been present in Egypt for more than 1000 years.
The Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt was established by the Apostle Mark and the Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa has remained in unbroken contact with the apostles through the continued ministry of the Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church in Africa.
The doctrines and traditions of early Christianity have been preserved unchanged by the Church through the centuries and will always be upheld and the Patriarchate has always played an important role on the African continent, especially in Egypt, and will continue to do so.
Recently the Patriarchate opened two museums;
The first is an underground Archaeological Museum and the second, at another site, is an Ecclesiastical Museum which houses very rare exhibits. These museums are unique on the continent of Africa.
The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, of Constantinople is known all over the world as the “Green Patriarch” underlining the commitment of the Church to uphold the sanctity and preservation of Nature. September 1, the first day of the ecclesiastical year in the Orthodox Church is a day of special prayer for the salvation and protection of God’s creation.
The stand point of the Church on language.
The use of the Greek language is essential to support the Faith and to preserve the Holy Traditions. It is also the Language of the Bible. However, Orthodoxy cares about all people and respects their individual ethnic needs. Two Byzantine Greek missionaries, Saints Cyril and Methodius (ninth century) are credited with developing the Slavonic alphabet in order that the Slavonic people could be educated and to enable them to participate in the doctrines of the Church.
In Europe and in Africa, the services have been translated (and continue to be translated) into the vernacular of the people. In South Africa services are also held in local languages, including Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans.
Should priests own a business.
It is not uncommon for a priest to have another source of income. This is sometimes necessary for their continued livelihood especially if they have families. In our Cape Town parish, we have an ordained deacon who serves at all the church services without a salary. He is a family man and has his own business to support his family.
When will Aghia Sophia ever be restored to the Orthodox Church.
His Eminence commented that it will come to pass in the fullness of time in the same way as in the Book of Genesis. We are told that God made the world in six days and then He rested on the seventh day. Only God knows what six days means. It could take thousands of years. God does not measure time the way the world measures time.
The congress closed with a dinner and ball in the evening held in co-operation with the Hellenic Community of Durban and was very well-attended and supported by the community. Guests of honour included His Eminence Archbishop Sergios, Mr Savvas Stylianos, the Honorary Consul for Cyprus (KZN), Mr Yanni Joannou, the Honorary Consul for Greece (KZN), and Mr Sotiris Stavrinou, Chairman of the Hellenic Community in Durban.
The event started with one minute of silence in memory of Nelson Mandela after which Archbishop Sergios opened the meal with a prayer. The evening was a resounding success and everyone was impressed with the décor which was designed by the students.