On November 4, 2021, a solemn reception was held at the Moscow Courtyard of the Antiochian Orthodox Church on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the birth of Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis, representative of the Patriarch of Antioch and All the East to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Lebanon to Russia Shawki Bou Nassar, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Syria to Russia Riad Haddad, representatives of the Diaspora, parishioners of the church, public figures delivered congratulatory speeches during the reception at the Antioch Compound.
Addressing Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis, Metropolitan Hilarion noted:
"Your Eminence, dear Vladyka Niphon!
Today, during the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia congratulated you on behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church on your 80th birthday and presented you with a high award - the Order of the Blessed Prince Daniel of Moscow (I degree) - in recognition of your outstanding services as rector of this temple, representative of the Holy Antiochian Church at the Moscow Patriarchal Throne.
And now here, in the temple where you have been serving for several decades, people have gathered who love you, honor you, perceive you as their friend. On my own behalf, on behalf of the staff of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, with whom you have been associated for many years, I would like to cordially congratulate you and wish you many years of life and good health.
There is a story about how one person, arriving in England, asked: and what do you need to do to have such a smooth lawn? They tell him: you have to mow the lawn regularly, once every two weeks, if the grass grows a little, you cut it, if it grows a little more, you cut it. And so for three hundred years. If someone asked me what needs to be done to adequately represent any Church at some other Church, I would say: you will see how the lord Niphon does, and do the same. And so for forty years.
Dear Vladyka! We do not just honor you – we love you very much, we perceive you not as a foreigner, not as just a representative of another Church, but as our brother, our friend and treat you with sincere love and sympathy.
I would like to wish that you would stay with us for many years to come, that you would decorate not only your Antiochian Orthodox Church, but also the Russian Orthodox Church with your presence, that the Lord would protect you from all evil, that peace would reign in your native land, that the difficulties that Lebanon is experiencing today would end, that you would finish and consecrate the temple that you are building in your hometown.
On my own behalf, on behalf of the Department for External Church Relations, I would like to present you with the Holy Panagia and the holy cross with a prayer that the Lord Himself would strengthen you in your ministry, and the Most Holy Theotokos would cover you from all evil with Her honest omophorion.
In his response, Metropolitan Niphon mentioned with deep gratitude the award presented to him by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill on that day.
The representative of the Patriarch of Antioch at the Moscow Patriarchal See also thanked the speakers at the event for the warm words of congratulations and good wishes. "This holiday is very dear to me. I want to express my special gratitude to everyone for your attitude towards me, for your love – it is love that the Church teaches us," the hierarch noted.
Addressing the DECR chairman, he said, in particular: "Thank you to Vladyka Hilarion for his love for the Farmstead, for his attention and love for me."
"Here, at the Antiochian Compound in Moscow, we pray for His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and for His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Both of them are dear to us, both of them are our fathers," Metropolitan Niphon of Philippopolis stressed.
Among the participants of the event were also the deputy chairman of the DECR Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, ambassadors of a number of countries of the world, representatives of the public.