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Hilarion Alfeyev, the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, located 80 miles northwest of Moscow, has a very big job. As head of external relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion is responsible for talking to global Christianity on behalf of the 150 million people in Russian Orthodoxy worldwide.

Given his gift for languages, Hilarion arose as an easy pick for the job by Russian Patriarch Kirill. This year, the Russian-American Institute, a faith-based educational and support organization (formerly the Russian-American Christian University), helped Hilarion interact with a cross-section of evangelicals around the United States for the first time. Christianity Today deputy managing editor Timothy C. Morgan interviewed Hilarion while he was in Washington, D.C.

What's the purpose of your trip?

To establish contacts and to find common positions. Often we are in circles in our own ecclesiastical environment and don't communicate with those who might be our allies.

With regard to evangelical leaders, until recently we didn't have any systematic collaboration or dialogue or conversation. Many evangelicals share conservative positions with us on such issues as abortion, the family, and marriage.

Do you want vigorous grassroots engagement between Orthodox and evangelicals?

Yes, on problems, for example, like the destruction of the family. Many marriages are split. Many families have either one child or no child.

There are many incomplete families, not to speak of various homosexual unions, which are equated with the family. This completely changes the whole picture of human relationships. It directly affects the future of many nations. The sign of a spiritually healthy nation is that it expands—it grows. ...

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May 2011

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