Athenagoras (Peckstadt) of Belgium
His Eminence Metropolitan Athenagoras (Peckstadt) of Belgium is a hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Since 2013 he has served as Metropolitan of Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxemburg.
Yves Peckstadt was born on March 24, 1962, in Ghent, Belgium, the son of Archpriest Ignace Peckstadt (who served there in Ghent) and Marie-Thérèse Janssens. After some years of law school at the University of Ghent, he began study at the University of Thessaloniki in Greece, having received a scholarship granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He successfully graduated with a Master's degree in Theology. He continued his studies at the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey (University of Geneva), graduating with a thesis entitled History of Orthodox presence in Benelux and its importance to the ecumenical movement.
In November of 1989 he was ordained to the diaconate by Metropolitan Bartholomew of Philadelphia (presently the Ecumenical Patriarch), who also gave him the name of Athenagoras in honor of the great Patriarch Athenagoras I. Later, Metr. Panteleimon (Kontogiannis) of Belgium ordained him as a priest. In September of 1996 he was elevated to the rank of archimandrite and then as Episcopal Vicar of the Archdiocese of Belgium.
For more than five years he functioned as religion teacher in different high schools in Flanders. At the beginning of 1994, Metr. Panteleimon named him as producer for the Belgian radio and television Orthodox broadcasts in French and Flemish. In the same year, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate made him a collaborator of the newly established Liaison Office of the Orthodox Church to the European Union, located in Brussels, o f which he is today the supervisor. By 1995, Archdeacon Athenagoras had founded with the blessing of Metr. Panteleimon an Orthodox parish in Bruges, under the patronage of SS. Constantine and Helen, where he served as the first dean. He later founded also the orthodox parish of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Ostende and the parish of the Three Hierarchs in Hasselt. He functioned as Orthodox Chaplain of the International Airport of Brussels since several years, and is also a member in the Concertation of Christian Churches in Belgium, in the committee "A Soul for Europe," and president of the E.I.I.R. (International and Interconfessional Association for Meetings of Monks and Nuns), after serving as President of the Interecclesiastical Committee of Brussels.
He speaks Flemish, Greek, French, English, and German.
On the May 13, 2003, he was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as auxiliary bishop to the Metropolitan of Belgium with the ancient title of Bishop of Sinope, and was consecrated on Sunday, June 22, 2003, in the Orthodox cathedral in Brussels. In addition to his episcopal functions, Bp. Athenagoras continued to carry on most of his former duties.
On Novenber 27, 2013, the Holy Synod elected Bishop Athenagoras as Metropolitan of Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxemburg, following the retirement of his predecessor Metropolitan Panteleimon. Since his election as metropolitan of Belgium, he represents all orthodox christians towards the Belgian and Luxemburg authorities. He is the president of the Orthodox Bishops Conference of the Benelux and co-chair of the International Commission of the Dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox Church. He was several times a member of the permanent Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.