SVS Leaders and Metropolitan PHILIP Discuss Education and Public Discourse

Metropolitan PHILIP received representatives of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary on September 15, 2009. He discussed theological education and matters of common concern with V. Rev. John Behr (Dean), V. Rev. Chad Hatfield (Chancellor), Anne Glynn Mackoul (Executive Chair, Board of Trustees), in a constructive exchange. Also present at the invitation of His Eminence were His Grace Bishop Antoun, V. Rev. Elias Bitar (Vicar General), V. Rev. Joseph Allen, V. Rev Paul Nadim Tarazi, V. Rev Thomas Zain, and Rev. George Kevorkian.

Metropolitan PHILIP on AOCA students and their education at St Vladimir’s Seminary

Metropolitan PHILIP spoke eloquently and appreciatively of the long association between the Antiochian Archdiocese and St Vladimir’s Seminary. His recent decision to relocate one St Vladimir's first year student to Holy Cross was due, he explained, to his desire to distribute students more equitably among the schools. Metropolitan PHILIP also said he was pleased by the steps that have been taken at St Vladimir’s to strengthen the pastoral and priestly formation of AOCA students, to support their liturgical and musical instruction, and to accommodate them appropriately in the chapel. He encouraged the Seminary leadership to take further steps in this direction.

A common vision

All agreed that, for the future unity of all Orthodox in this country, seminarians from all traditions must come together to study, to learn each others’ traditions, and – especially – to worship together!

Respectful discourse in the twenty-first century

In addition, Metropolitan PHILIP spoke about the nature of public discourse today, about its pitfalls, and about its ability to sow division and discord. He also expressed his dismay at personal attacks, rumors and unsubstantiated postings that have appeared on various web sites. The leaders of St Vladimir’s observed that open, honest, and also respectful discourse is needed for the health of the Church. All agreed that those being formed as priests for this digital age must learn a respectful mode of discourse, and that those involved in their instruction must model such discourse.

Positive online communications modeled by SVS
St Vladimir’s Seminary recognizes that instant online communication can also be used positively, as a powerful tool for opening up discussion, engaging with others, and sharing new ideas, such as the blogging and the audio streaming that accompanied the SVS Conference this summer. Without that technology, the conference would have been virtually unknown aside from the hundred or so participants who could be there in person. With that technology, thousands could, and did, log on to hear or read the papers almost as soon as they were given.

New SVS web discussion forum

St Vladimir’s Seminary plans to build on the success of the Conference, as well as the interesting reactions to Fr John and Fr Chad’s statement on theological education, by launching a web discussion forum to pursue some of these ideas. The forum will model respectful online discourse that Metropolitan PHILIP expects his seminarians to learn. Participants may have diverse perspectives, but those will be presented and discussed courteously in an open forum – no anonymous or abusive postings will be accepted.
SVS also recommends His Grace, Bishop Savas of Troas’ new site as another model of what can done with positive communication in the digital age.