In the unrolling and implementing of Vision 2020, we have come to a much deeper understanding of the role of the seminary community in the development and formation of our students. We are slowly moving away from a “one-size-fits all” program of formation to one that recognizes the diversity of the student body. As part of Vision 2020, we reduced the number of academic credits required to graduate and initiated a rethinking of the community service program, not only so that there would be more time for study, reflection, and family but also that the required and optional curricular and co-curricular activities of the seminary’s programs would be better aligned with our vision of theological education.
The term “community service program” is an umbrella term for three different types of student labor. The first (and most noticeable) type is individual assignments (e.g., serving on a meal crew, working in the library, or cleaning the chapel). The second type is seminary assignments (e.g., “all hands on deck” events that require student participation, such as the Schmemann Lecture or the Feast of the Three Hierarchs). The third type is voluntary service (e.g., open houses, smaller seminary events, and student society events).
The first two types of assignments (individual and seminary) will be announced at the beginning of the semester with explicit time expectations. The last type of assignment (voluntary) is at the discretion of the student. Throughout the semester, the seminary community will ask for help regarding a variety of events or needs. This will provide an opportunity to serve your neighbor and to put into practice the diakonia of the Church.
Abba John the Dwarf said, “The foundation is our neighbor, whom we must win, and that is the place to begin. For all the commandments of Christ depend on this one.” Service to our neighbor is vital in our study of theology, and the study of theology is in vain if we do not serve our neighbor. St. Vladimir’s Seminary’s community service program is designed to emphasize the application of theological education in service to neighbor and community. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).