Nashotah House Hosts St. Vladimir’s Seminary and Metropolitan Hilarion
25–26 October 2012 • Off-Campus • Virginia Nieuwsma
Nashotah House Theological Seminary recently hosted His Eminence, The Most Rev. Hilarion (Alfeyev), metropolitan of Volokolamsk and chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, and The Very Rev. Chad Hatfield, chancellor/CEO of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, for a weekend that witnessed to the relationship between the Episcopal and Orthodox communions—past and present, and nationally and internationally. The schedule of activities highlighted especially the common commitment of participants to traditionalism and conservatism within their respective faith traditions.
On Thursday, October 25, Metropolitan Hilarion met with Nashotah House’s Dean and President, The Right Rev. Edward K. Salmon, Jr. Interestingly, Bishop Edward is one of the three bishops of the Episcopal Church in the USA to whom the former Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad (now His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia), once sent a letter of support; the letter emphasized the willingness of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church to contact and cooperate with members of the Episcopal Church in the USA who were remaining faithful to the Church's traditional moral teaching.
His Eminence and Fr. Chad also met with representatives of a dialogue with the Anglican Church in North America. The church body's website reported that "Metropolitan Hilarion presented a substantial paper summarizing the history of Orthodox/Anglican dialogue. At the end, he stated three areas for ecumenical discussion, the theological, the ecclesiological, and moral theology. Most significantly his Eminence expressed his desire to route ecumenical dialogue with North American Anglicanism through the Anglican Church in North America."
In the evening of October 25, Nashotah House and St. Vladimir's Seminary Press (SVS Press) co-sponsored a book signing by Metropolitan Hilarion, featuring his newly released Orthodox Christianity, Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church. In his first volume, Orthodox Christianity, Volume I: The History and Canonical Structure of the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion explored the Church's milestones through time. In his newly released volume, he examines the sources of Orthodox doctrine in Scripture and tradition, and then discusses the Church's teaching on several topics: God’s essence and energies; the world and man; Jesus Christ, the incarnate God; the Church as the body of Christ; the Theotokos (Virgin Mary); and eschatology (the last things).
That same evening, Nashotah alumnus Fr. Chad Hatfield preached in the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin on the Feast of St. James of Jerusalem. It was “homecoming week” for Father Chad, who spoke in the same chapel he had frequented as a seminarian, years earlier. Fr. Chad has received three degrees from Nashotah House—Master of Divinity (1978), Master of Sacred Theology (1988), and Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa (2008).
On Friday morning, October 26, His Eminence offered an address as the commencement speaker at the fall Academic Convocation, at which he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree. In his address Metropolitan Hilarion emphasized the mission of theological schools.
"Theological schools have a special duty to preserve and further the church tradition and to educate the younger generation in a spirit of faithfulness to the teaching of Christ and the apostles,” he said. “In the era when moral principles of society have been shaken under the influence of secular and liberal ideology, Christian conservatism and traditionalism are especially needed. “Under the circumstances, the responsibilities of theological seminaries increase greatly,” he continued. “I have accepted the invitation to deliver a lecture at Nashotah House with great pleasure, bearing in mind that the seminary has always played a remarkable part in educating young people in the best traditions of Anglo-Catholicism, and that it has a special status in the structure of the Episcopal Church and shows particular interest in Orthodoxy.”
In keeping with the Convocation's theme, "J.S. Bach as Religious Phenomenon," Metropolitan Hilarion also spoke about the great composer's legacy, and his faithfulness to Christian themes in his music. Bach believed "his music to be a single voice within the great choir of the universal Church, the one which transcends doctrinal boundaries," noted His Eminence.
Afterwards, Father Chad reflected, "This was the first honorary degree awarded to a Russian Orthodox bishop by Nashotah House since St. Tikhon was honored thusly, in 1905.”
Continuing in the spirit of mutual respect and ongoing dialogue, Metropolitan Hilarion suggested a joint pilgrimage to Russia with seminarians from both Nashotah House and St. Vladimir's Seminary. St. Vladimir’s Seminary and Nashotah House signed a Concordat in 2009, pledging to a "mutual fellowship of prayer and learning in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit." Inspiration for that Concordat arose out of a conference hosted at St. Vladimir’s in 2008, titled “The Primacy of Mother Churches: Rome, Constantinople, and Canterbury.”