October 2012 • Virginia Nieuwsma • Off–Campus
Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, associate professor of Systematic Theology and editor of the SVS Press Foundations Series, will be the keynote speaker at the Orthodox Institute, an educational conference hosted at Antiochian Village in Ligonier, PA, November 1–4. The theme of the institute is "Culture. Morality. Spirituality." Participants and speakers will survey current cultural views and how they conflict with the teachings of the Church. In breakout sessions, attendees will discuss the challenges facing today's youth.
Dr. Bouteneff, who has chosen to speak on the topic, "Contemporary Culture and Religion," has explored similar issues in his SVS Press book, Sweeter than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth,  which examines the nature of truth in the face of today's challenging cultural landscape. Noted Dr. Bouteneff in an interview with September's The Word magazine : "...if you're talking with high school or college-aged kids about it (relativism and tolerance), especially if they're in kind of pluralistic settings or diversely populated schools (like my kids are), you have to be genuinely receptive and affirmative to their inquisitiveness about other people, other faiths, what people believe and stand for. You have to agree with them that we're against religious violence and extremism. But then you have to show them why and how tolerance doesn't mean giving up your own truth claims. You can actually believe that the other person's faith gets it wrong in some key areas and still coexist in genuine mutual esteem. If you can convey to people the difference between 'tolerance' and 'relativism,' as well as the difference between 'faith conviction' and 'violence,' that's a huge step!"
Alumnus The Very Rev. Joseph Purpura, D.Min. (SVOTS '79), director of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America's Department of Youth and Parish Ministries, is also leading a session at the Institute, titled "Youth Ministry Programs, Substance Abuse." Under Fr. Joseph's leadership, the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth (OCCHY), a national alliance established to combat substance abuse in youth, was awarded a five–year government grant to fund a Chicago–based coalition of organizations and churches.