September 8—10, 2012 • Off-Campus
Neither sleet, nor snow, nor tornadoes touching down in Queens near the airport, could keep the St. Vladimir's Seminary delegation from traveling to the Oklahoma City area over the weekend of September 8—10, to visit with the clergy and faithful of St. Elijah Orthodox Christian Church.
“St. Elijah has been home to three priests from different eras of time at SVOTS," explained The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO. "Fr. John Salem is the current pastor and Fr. Jeremy Davis is his assisting priest. Fr. Constantine Nasr is the pastor emeritus and the author of our new SVS Press book, Antony Bashir—Metropolitan & Missionary . This visit provided the first book signing for our new author—and we look forward to other events around the country.”
The St. Vladimir's team, consisting of Fr. Chad, Marketing and Operations Manager for the SVS Press and Bookstore  Dn. Gregory Hatrak, and Major Gifts Officer Tim Nieuwsma, arrived late at night after ten hours of travel and storm delays. "Despite the hour, we were met and graciously hosted by Fr. John Salem, the new priest of St. Elijah," noted Nieuwsma. "He insisted on finding a place for us to eat and subsequently treated us to a Saturday midnight tour of their spacious parish campus with beautiful sanctuary and parish hall, extensive Sunday School facility, 'Mom's Day Out' Pre-school, and a fully-equipped gym."
The next morning, Fr. Chad and Dn. Gregory joined the clergy of St. Elijah in serving Matins and the Divine Liturgy, and Fr. Chad offered the homily. The St. Vladimir's visitors were warmly welcomed by the community, which is rooted in one hundred years of history and is still vibrant and growing. St. Elijah emphasizes teaching and outreach, and the seminary guests were able to witness over one hundred Sunday School parish children receive a blessing for the start of the new church year.
In that same spirit of generosity and ministry, the clergy at St. Elijah presented Fr. Chad with a generous gift in support of the seminary's new scholarship initiative to end tuition debt for seminarians.
A key purpose for the visit was the Metropolitan Antony Bashir book signing with the author, Fr. Constantine Nasr. Dn. Gregory managed the event, as a long line of buyers waited patiently for a personally written message. Later that evening, Fr. Constantine and Kh. Sharon hosted the seminary delegation and updated the visitors on the progress of his foundation, which benefits the Palestinian people in his ancestral homeland.