“Solitude has been a permanent companion of Orthodox scholars who serve the fields of Cross-Cultural Theology, Dialogue and Mission, until very recently. When it all started, around the mid-20th century, it was like hearing a voice in the wildness. It took quite a while for the late Prof. Elias Voulgarakis, a pioneer of scholarly research in this field among the Orthodox, to establish Missiology as an Academic subject at Athens University. And yet, this lonely course taken by the founder of Orthodox Missiology in the 20th century, led to a substantial number of students and doctorate researchers in the field, and at the same time coincided with a boost in mission work by the Orthodox. A legacy was left for more people to share. Yet, compared to our western colleagues, we are not a crowd, and our representation in Universities is still rather rare. It often happens that we hardly find an adequate partner, informed and sensitive, to discuss our most critical, scholarly and existential questions that arise from our research and experience. Besides, one has to dig for information and strive to cover basic shortcomings in related bibliography. It is mostly through the ecumenical structures at a church or scholarly level that we get to meet with our own peers.
It was felt as a pressing need, and was at the same time the dream of a lifetime to found a peer-reviewed scholarly journal on Cross-Cultural Theology, Dialogue and Mission that would bring more of us together, and allow the necessary exchange and sharing, in a free, loving and pluralistic spirit. This journal would serve at the same time the openness of Orthodox theology to the world, including the parts that have been for so long neglected and wrongly conceived as the “periphery”, the “ends” or even the “fringe”.
When a “Missiology Group” was formed within the frame of the International Orthodox Theological Association (IOTA), I was much more than exited. With the two co-chairs, rev. father Michael Oleksa, an old acquaintance, and Alison-Ruth Kolosova, a newcomer in my life, a deep understanding and friendship developed. The same happened with all the members of the Missiology group. IOTA’s Inaugural Conference in Iasi, Romania, in January 2019, provided a setting where leading scholars from all over the world, in the fields of Cross-Cultural Theology, Dialogue, Missiology, Theology of Religion, Anthropology and other related areas, the fields where theology meets with the world in all its complexity, came together. An atmosphere of trust and mutual appreciation was present among us all. There emerged a need for a more permanent follow up, and the need for a scholarly journal was welcomed and endorsed. Was it the right time for a dream to come true? The idea was taken up and was taken a few steps forward.
Solid and loving relationships, of the kind that are characteristic of Christ’s disciples, and faith in the Holy Spirit to cover our shortcomings have laid the foundation for this effort. Τhe path is being walked upon as we speak…”