[ST. VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY / YONKERS, N.Y.] From November 21–22, 2008, members of the Orthodox Inter-Seminary Movement (OISM) met on the campus St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVS) in Yonkers, NY, for their semi-annual meeting. Since the 1960s OSIM has provided a forum for Orthodox Christian seminarians of various jurisdictions to enjoy fellowship and prayer, and to form bonds that will extend into their future ministries. It is run entirely by students from the participating seminaries, with support from each seminary’s respective faculty and administration.
Thirty students—from St. Vladimir’s Seminary; St. Herman's Seminary of Kodiak, AK; Holy Cross Seminary/Hellenic College of Brookline, MA; Holy Trinity Seminary of Jordanville, NY; and St. Tikhon's Seminary of South Canaan, PA— gathered in fellowship on the SVS campus and studied the life of St. John of Kronstadt, which provided the theme for the weekend meeting. The seminarians celebrated an Akathist to the saint in the seminary chapel and attended a related lecture delivered by Hierodeacon Ioaseph of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.
Hierodeacon Ioaseph (formerly known as Dr. Joseph McLellan) had served as a professor in the Slavic and Russian studies departments at the University of Missouri (Columbia), Brown University, and Princeton University, prior to his entrance into the Jordanville monastery. In an engaging lecture, he conveyed the life of St. John of Kronstadt to the seminarians—cautioning them not to try to imitate the unique aspects in the saint’s life, while encouraging them to emulate the general principles of the gospel manifest in St. John’s actions.
Brock Johns, student coordinator for the event and senior student in the M.Div. program at SVS, has participated in OISM for two of his three years at St. Vladimir’s. “I wanted to join OISM, which offered a way for me to meet my future peers in the field,” said seminarian Johns.
The OISM participants also had the unique opportunity to meet and hear the newly elected metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), His Beatitude Jonah (Paffhausen), who was on campus for the semi-annual meeting of the SVS Board of Trustees and for the dedication of the recently constructed Lakeside Student Apartments at St. Vladimir’s—18 units that house married seminarians and their families. His Beatitude earned both an M.Div. (’85) and also an M.Th. (’88) degree from St. Vladimir’s.
Although he spoke in several different campus venues over the weekend, Metropolitan Jonah delivered one consistent message: he noted the enormous influence of his own seminary training on his personal ministry and advocated a “unified, clear vision” for theological education in America.
“All leaders of the Church, who take up the yoke of Christ,” he urged, “must have a clear vision of theological education, which consists in four things: first, we must present the gospel of Jesus Christ; second, we have a mission to evangelize all people, regardless of color, ethnicity, or socio-economic status; third, we must bring integrity to the gospel message; and fourth, we must take up the task of bearing the presence of Jesus Christ to those around us.”
Metropolitan Jonah also emphasized the need for the Orthodox churches in America to support all theological institutions with prayer and love.
Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, SVS faculty liaison for OISM, summed up the common “trust” of the seminaries represented at the OISM gathering, despite their diverse backgrounds. “Each and every one of our seminaries is founded on a zeal for our Savior Jesus Christ, a missionary vocation, and the preaching of the apostolic faith,” he said. “I want to express my gratitude to you all for coming together in this way.”
NOTE: Participating seminaries in OISM represent the American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Archdiocese (ACROD); the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA); the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (GOMT); the Orthodox Church in America (OCA); the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR); the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada (UOCC); and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (UOCUSA), and include the following schools:
- Christ the Saviour Seminary (Johnstown, Pennsylvania, ACROD)
- Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Brookline, Massachusetts, GOA)
- Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (Jordanville, New York, ROCOR)
- St. Andrew's College (Winnipeg, Manitoba, UOCC)
- St. Herman's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Kodiak, Alaska, OCA)
- St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Bound Brook, New Jersey, UOCUSA)
- St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, Pennsylvania, OCA)
- St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary (Yonkers, New York, OCA)
- Toronto Orthodox Theological Academy (Toronto, Ontario, GOMT)