Bishop Gregory To Attend International Conference on Religious Freedom

JOHNSTOWN, PA -- At the invitation of the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, His Grace, Bishop Gregory of Nyssa will attend the Archon Second International Conference on Religious Freedom: "Tearing Down Walls: Achieving Religious Equality in Turkey." It will take place in Berlin, Germany on December 4-5, 2013.

This upcoming conference promises to be an extraordinary, historic and watershed event, just as the first Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom was in November 2010 at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium.

Once again, politicians, diplomats, human rights lawyers and advocates, scholars, religious leaders, journalists and members of minority communities will come together to see how the walls of intolerance and misunderstanding can come tumbling down, and a new future for all people of goodwill can begin.

Professor Ilber Ortayli, Fatma Benli and His Eminence, Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa will be among the featured speakers and panelists at the 2nd Archon International Conference on Religious Freedom set to take place at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin, Germany.

Professor Ilber Ortayli is a leading Ottoman historian and professor of history at Galatasarary University in Istanbul and at Bilkent University in Ankara. He has been the head of Istanbul's Topkapi Museum since 2005.

Fatma Benli is a Lawyer, human rights activist and Turkey's representative to the International Jurists Union. In a recent publication by Georgetown University, Benli was listed as one of the world's 500 most influential Muslims.

His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa is the Abbot of the Holy Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Holy Trinity on the Island of Halki. He is the former Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Ortayli, Benli and Metropolitan Elpidophoros will join former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will address the Conference via video, along with 35 other world-renowned speakers and panelists from the interfaith, diplomatic, journalistic, legal and academic communities.

The conference is being organized and hosted by the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America in cooperation with the Patriarchal Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union. The coordination of the local political and church partners is undertaken by the Greek Orthodox Metropolitanate of Germany with the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Augoustinos.

Dr. Anthony Limberakis, National Commander of the Order of St. Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate stated, "We are very pleased that so many of the world's leading thinkers in the areas of religious freedom and human rights will be participating in this important Conference. It demonstrates the serious nature of our endeavor and the depth of our dialogue. This Conference is not afraid to look at the realities of the day and find constructive, positive responses to the challenges at hand."

The Conference will focus on religious freedom issues affecting minorities in Turkey stressing the concepts of equality, state neutrality and pluralism as they relate to religious freedom and the status of religious freedom under Turkey's current and proposed new constitutions.

For more information on the conference, the Archons and to view a complete list of speaker and panelist bios, please visit

Diocesan clergy and faithful are kindly asked to offer prayers for the safe travels of His Grace, Bishop Gregory and all conference participants.