An idea was born in the Institute of History and Ethnology of Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University to dedicate a large-scale international forum to the first Christmas Day of the new century.
Academician Davit Muskhelishvili, Director of the Institute of History and Ethnology, brought this idea to the notice of His Holiness and Beatitude, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II. Despite the hardest social and political problems, His Holiness blessed Georgian scholars and their initiative and provided moral as well as material support.
From October 11 to 17, 2000, in the Conference Hall of the Patriarchate of Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude, the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II opened the first international symposium – “Christianity: Past, Present and Future”. On behalf of the government, the symposium was greeted by the head of the Parliament, Zurab Zhvania. Over one hundred researchers took part in the event. The international forum was attended by scholars from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Lithuania, Russia, Slovenia and Yugoslavia. The presentations dwelt on relevant issues of the relationship between the Christian religion and natural sciences, some important questions of philosophy and theology, the main characteristics of the development of Christian arts, etc. The schedule of the symposium also allowed time for discussions and contributed to the resumption of the broken ties with foreign scholars.
In her conclusive speech, the well-known Bulgarian scholar E. Bakalova gave a positive appreciation of the work of the symposium. She came up with an initiative to create an academic international centre in Tbilisi, the capital of an ancient country. The centre would facilitate regular meetings of researchers working on Christianity related problems all over the world, would contribute to the interchange of scholarly opinions, and would organize large scale international forums. This initiative of the Bulgarian Kartvelologist was supported by other foreign, as well as by Georgian scholars.
On 29 March, 2002, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II personally founded and blessed the permanent foundation – “International Centre for Christian Studies at the Orthodox Church of Georgia”. The centre is managed by a board headed by Academician Davit Muskhelishvili. An assembly of Georgian scholars called “Darbazi” (Council) was set up at the centre.

© ICCS, 2011