THE ORTHODOX CHURCH AND THE WIDER WORLD
The starting point for the Christian life, and the foundation of our hope, is the fact that God’s glory pervades His entire creation.
What makes the Church different from any other religious system is that it offers an actual relationship with the living God through the grace of the eucharistic community.
Christian worship is not a simple reenactment or commemoration but a continuous, dynamic process of koinonia (fellowship) with the life of the Holy Trinity for the sake of the entire world. When the faithful participate in worship, especially in Holy Communion, they become larger than themselves through the act of giving thanks, transcending their individual limitations…. Human beings have a vital need to be in a koinonia of love, not only with the rest of humanity but also with a world of nature and the entire universe.
Christians of the East have often lived in societies characterized by cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity. They consequently have developed an attitude of respect, tolerance, and understanding towards other religious experiences.
For various historical reasons, Orthodoxy has been associated with particular national and ethnic groups. Yet, we proclaim, just as did St. Paul in his speech at Athens, that God has made all nations one so that they should seek Him (Acts 17:26-27). Thus, the Church is “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.”
The brief excerpts above are taken from Facing the World: Orthodox Christian Essays on Global Concerns by Archbishop Anastasios of Albania (Yannoulatos), World Council of Churches Publications: Geneva, 2003.