Robbinsville, New Jersey, January 15, 2024
On October 4, 2023, a hierarch of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America participated in the “Interfaith Harmony Day” held at a large Hindu temple in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
The event, which gathered representatives from Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism, and Buddhism, was part of the celebrations that culminated in the consecration of the temple on October 8.
The site of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the overarching organization that includes the new temple, states that, “The gathering was a testament to the core principles of Akshardham, where unity emerges from diversity, and the common threads that bind humanity together are celebrated with reverence and appreciation.”
The same sentiment was expressed in a letter from Archbishop Elpidophoros, head of GOARCH, which was read by His Grace Bishop Athenagoras Nazianzos, Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, who personally attended the event.
Citing the holy Apostle Paul, Abp. Elpidophoros wrote: “In the boundless tapestry of creation, we are called to recognize and celebrate the diverse ways in which humanity seeks to connect with the divine. As Orthodox Christians, we are continually reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, for from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.”
The Archbishop also offered his blessing to all the Hindu community’s endeavors.
Read the full address presented by Bp. Athenagoras
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, brothers and sisters, with profound joy and a heart filled with gratitude, I extend my warmest congratulations on the momentous occasion of the grand opening of the BAPS Akshardham Mahamandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
In the boundless tapestry of creation, we are called to recognize and celebrate the diverse ways in which humanity seeks to connect with the divine. As Orthodox Christians, we are continually reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, for from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.
Indeed, the beauty of faith and worship is a reflection of the divine’s infinite wisdom and love. This Hindu temple represents a sacred space where individuals gather in devotion, seeking spiritual fulfillment and understanding through prayer and worship and dialogue. As His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew reminds us, we must have faith in dialogue itself. Any encounter and every dialogue require risk at both the individual and the community level. All dialogues are personal, since they involve the interaction of unique, irreplaceable persons, Christian or not, whose personhood is intricately connected to their individual social, cultural, and religious specificities.
In this spirit, we celebrate the unity and oneness that underline our shared human journey towards a world of peace and reconciliation. May the opening of this beautiful shrine be a beacon of joy, understanding, harmony within the Hindu community and beyond. May this unique peace of Indian art stand as a testament to our common humanity and may its sacred hall be a place where hearts are uplifted and souls find solace.
In the spirit of love and fellowship, I offer my congratulations and blessings for the success and flourishing of this sacred endeavor. May the grace of the Almighty guide and bless the members of this beautiful community, the hands of those who built this place, this temple, and the many visitors who search for consolation in their spiritual quests.
Prayerfully yours, Abp. Elpidophoros, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Thank you.
The address can be seen in the video below beginning at 41:45:
The same day, in a separate ceremony, “His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj” consecrated several statutes, so-called “divine murtis,” that are believed to be the embodiment of Hindu gods. Bp. Athenagoras did not participate in this ceremony.
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