On 28 October 2015, the Rev. Franklin Graham met with His Holiness Patriarch Kiril of Moscow. They met to discuss shared concerns like the persecution of Christians all around the world, especially in the Middle East, and the recent religious and moral shifts in the West.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association courageously confessed its faith and defended Christian values. “This gives us a sign of hope: there are people among Western Christians akin to us in ethic principles, sharing them with the Russian Orthodox Church,” His Holiness said and reminded his listeners that the Moscow Patriarchate had suspended any contacts and dialogue with Christian Churches and communities which perform same-sex marriages in church and even ordain people of non-traditional sexual orientation as priests and bishops. “For instance, we had to break off contacts with the Episcopal Church in the USA, but we support the Anglican Church in North America which remains faithful to Christian ethics. I would like to note once again the role played by the conservative evangelicals in the United States as their position gives us an opportunity to continue our dialogue with Christians in America.” Source
The controversial adoption of same-sex marriage has affected Orthodoxy’s relations with Reformed churches. In June 2015, the Russian Orthodox Church severed all ties with the Kirk of Scotland and the United Protestant Church of France. (Note: the United Protestant Church of France resulted from a merger of Lutherans and Reformed in 2013.) The Kirk of Scotland voted to allow gay ministers in civil partnerships and the United Protestant Church of France voted to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages.
This recent conversation between Rev. Graham and an encouraging indicator that Protestants can work together with Orthodox on areas of shared concerns despite their differences. As American society becomes increasingly post-Christian it becomes all the more urgent for Protestants from mainline churches and evangelical congregations to engage in conversation with historic Christians. Evangelicals are encouraged to read Metropolitan Joseph’s “Archepiscopal Directive On So-called ‘Same-sex Marriage‘” to see where they have common ground with the Orthodox.
This is not the first time an Evangelical leader met with the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. Franklin Graham happens to be following example of his father. The Rev. Billy Graham was visited by Metropolitan Hilarion November 2014. In light of Billy Graham’s upcoming 97th birthday on 7 November 2015, we send him a traditional Orthodox greeting: “God grant you many years!”
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. 29 October 2015. “Metropolitan Joseph’s Archepiscopal Directive On So-called ‘Same-sex Marriage.'”
BBC. 16 May 2015. “Church of Scotland votes to allow gay ministers in civil partnerships.”
Dept. of External Church Relations — The Russian Orthodox Church. 28 October 2015. “His Holiness Patriarch Kirill Meets With William Franklin Graham President of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.”
The National. 5 June 2015. “As Moscow severs ties to the Kirk, Lewis decides against split.”
Reuters. 17 May 2015. “French Protestant church allows gay marriage blessing.
Christian Examiner (Gregory Tomlin). 8 June 2015. “Russian Church severs ties with Scotland & France churches; warns a blessing of LGBT clergy paves he way for the Antichrist.”
Christian Post (Stoyan Zaimov). 30 October 2015. “Franklin Graham Travels to Moscow for Meeting on Persecution.”