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In a conciliar spirit and with the blessing of the Church leadership, members of the International Orthodox Theological Association IOTA] assembled for their inaugural conference in Iaşi, Romania January 9-12, 2019.  Founded by Deacon Paul Gavrilyuk of Saint Paul, MN, a retired deacon of the Orthodox Church in America, and a group of leading scholars, IOTA’s mission is to promote the international exchange of knowledge within the context of the Orthodox tradition.

The overarching theme of the conference was Pan-Orthodox Unity and Conciliarity. The keynote address was given by His Eminence, Metropolitan Kallistos [Ware] of Diokleia, who noted in his address that “we have to confess, with humility and realism, that while we affirm synodality in theory, all too often we have neglected it in practice.” IOTA rose to this challenge by providing a vivid experience of “conciliarity from below.”

With several hundred scholars representing over 40 countries and all six continents, the Inaugural conference was the largest and the most representative gathering of Orthodox Church leaders, scholars, and professionals in modern history.  The list of conference speakers {{{LINK TO}}} is a “Who’s Who” of global Orthodoxy. Attendees included experts in multiple disciplines including theology, but also natural science, history, philosophy, political science, medicine, linguistics, and the arts.  A broad variety of topics were discussed in over 70 separate sessions, from fundamental philosophical and theological issues to the urgent questions of our time.


Participants representing the Orthodox Church in America included His Eminence, Archbishop Alexander of Dallas, the South and the Bulgarian Diocese, who offered a presentation on a number of fourth century ascetical writings.  Papers were delivered by Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Dr. Frank Cerra, Archpriest Michael Oleksa, Archpriest John Parker, and Prof. Richard Schneider, among others.  Also attending are Deacon Nicholas Denysenko and Archpriest Chad Hatfield.  Numerous presenters and participants from other North American jurisdictions also attended.

The event began with a service celebrated by His Eminence, Metropolitan Teofan of Iaşi. The conference included opportunities for communal worship, two sacred art exhibits, a pilgrimage to local monasteries, and a book exhibit to benefit emerging Orthodox scholars. The gathering was also enriched by the participation of presenters and observers from a variety of non-Orthodox Christian faith traditions.

Conference participants reported not only appreciation of the quality of the scholarly presentations, but also their delight at interacting with such a diverse gathering and a sense of spiritual renewal. Many also expressed gratitude for the overwhelming hospitality provided by Archdiocese of Iaşi and Doxologia Publishing House, whose staff, clergy, and volunteers made the unprecedented event possible.

IOTA plans to host worldwide conferences every four years in different locations.

A video of Archbishop Alexander’s homily, delivered in the Iaşi Metropolitan Cathedral during the Divine Liturgy on the eve of the conference’s opening, is also available for viewing.