August 2012 • Off Campus
It was a trinity of firsts: in the first week of August, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, dean and professor of Patristics, embarked upon his first trip to Alaska where, as the first presenter, he offered a series of lectures at the Eagle River Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies.
The Institute is held each summer in the beginning of the August Dormition Fast, at the Antiochian Archdiocese's Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska. Sixteen hours of college level instruction in a variety of Orthodox disciplines are offered, and cover a wide range of themes from theology, history, liturgy, spirituality and Scriptural studies.
Fr. John spoke on the topic "Becoming Human." The first and foundational lecture, "It is Finished: The Cross of Christ," set the tone for the series. His other lectures in the track, titled "For This Were We Created," "Male and Female Created He Them," "The Virgin Mother," and "Glorify God in Your Bodies," also centered on how we may become fully human, as God intended.
"I had a wonderful time," Fr. John says. "Not only did the beauty of their community and worship leave an impression on me, but, of course, the beauty of Alaska did as well. It was truly inspiring to see such a community take their life and learning together so seriously."
Sally Eckert, Eagle River parishioner, attended the conference and reflected afterwards, "Fr. John is an energetic lecturer who helps his audience work with him to explore new territory—and to look more deeply into the riches of the familiar. He engages gently with encouraging humor as a father would his children, and he has much to share that really applies to the way we live from day to day. It is good to have a little taste of what the students at SVOTS receive while they're in class, preparing to serve their parishes. And it was an unexpected joy to receive some of the fruits of the seminary's research and prayer directly! We thank you all for sharing from your community to ours."
Fr. Moses Berry, pastor of Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Mission in Ash Grove, Missouri (OCA) and one of the founders of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, also participated as a guest lecturer, with a series of addresses titled "Linking Ancient Christianity to the African-American Experience."
During the first week of August, The Very Rev. Fr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO, also journeyed to the northernmost state where he'd lived and ministered prior to coming to St. Vladimir's Seminary. Fr. Chad preached at the Feast Day Liturgy in Holy Resurrection Cathedral, which was filled with pilgrims who'd arrived to participate in the annual St. Herman of Alaska pilgrimage.
Fr. Chad also assisted with the orientation of the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) summer mission team who were preparing to participate in a camp program for children and teenagers in historic Ouzinkie and the surrounding area.
Accompanying Fr. Chad, two seminary staff members—IT Director Georgios Kokonas and Plant Manager Rafael Rivera—offered their expertise as they worked on St. Herman Seminary campus improvement projects. Georgios and Rafael even managed to snag some fish, and will be sharing the bounty with faculty and staff on campus on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
"One of the many valuable contacts from this trip to Kodiak was the connection with the delegation from the Czech Lands and Slovakia," recalls Fr. Chad. "There are some excellent proposals with their seminary and missiological center that began when Metropolitan Kristoff visited SVS this past year ."