There’s a saying: "A Bachelor’s degree holder is a consumer of knowledge; a Master’s degree holder is a user of knowledge; and a Doctoral degree holder is a contributor of knowledge." Our Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Program students, who recently gathered for their on-campus intensive July 16–22, evinced the truth of that adage.
The senior students, who comprise the Cohort of 2017, used their on-campus time to present their doctoral projects to fellow classmates, demonstrating the scope and depth of their learning over the past three years. (View a video interview with Father Timothy Chrapko, Cohort of 2017, speaking about his “amazing experience” in the D.Min. Program, and his senior project, here.)
The junior students, who make up the Cohort of 2019 and are now one year into their D.Min. studies, held lively and mutually beneficial interchanges during their classroom sessions: “Liturgical Life and Pastoral Ministry,” taught by Dr. Grant White, assistant professor of Liturgical Theology; and “Ministry in a Secular Age,” taught by the Very Reverend Dr. John Jillions, associate professor of Religion and Culture. (View a video interview with Chaplain Sarah Byrne-Martelli, Cohort of 2019, speaking about how her D.Min. experience has nourished and emboldened her faith, and has equipped her with “a new framework for thinking about ministry in this age,” here.)
The Very Reverend Dr. J. Sergius Halvorsen, director of the Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry Program, particularly remarked on the seniors’ presentations, saying, “I was not entirely sure what to expect of the Cohort of 2017, since they’re the first group of students to go through our D.Min. ‘hybrid format,’ taking classes both online and on campus.
“Of course, I had read all of their proposals,” he went on, “but this was my first chance to hear about their research and to see how they are concretely developing new models of ministry, and, I have to say, these projects were truly inspiring: they are tackling some of the most pressing problems that we face in the Church today.”
Father Sergius noted that the seniors’ projects covered a wide range of topics, from the opioid epidemic and addiction recovery, to new models for catechesis and Christian formation. Each student, he said, addressed an aspect of pastoral care immediately relevant to his or her own ministry, and sure to benefit the Orthodox Church at large.
As examples, Father David Subu, pastor of St. Mary Orthodox Church, Falls Church, VA, recently returned from a trip to Romania, during which time he researched the intersection between Orthodox Christian spirituality and addiction recovery: he interviewed Floyd Frantz, an OCMC missionary who had been working in that field there for many years, and observed what is possible in rehabilitation, including real-life discussions with people struggling with addiction. And stateside, Father Alcuin Kellerhouse, a licensed counselor and priest in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, is currently offering Substance Use Disorder (SUD) presentations—both online and in person—as part of his D.Min. research, in order eventually to develop a training program to equip clergy and lay ministers with the skills necessary to help those suffering from addiction.
Other final projects, such as the one by Father Timothy Chrapko, associate priest at St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, concentrate on personal spiritual development. His project, which centers on the study of the anaphora in the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great, seeks to help parishioners grow in their faith and understand what it means to be an Orthodox Christian, and to engage in genuine worship and reshape their worldview, based on their encounter with Christ within the liturgy.
“Our D.Min. graduates,” Father Sergius concluded, “will continue to ask the ‘hard questions,’ perform detailed research and analysis, and ultimately share their findings with the larger Orthodox Church in order to assist everyone who labors to build up the Body of Christ.”
Protodeacon Peter M. Danilchick, who with his wife, Tanya, established The Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies, which offers need-based financial aid for D.Min. students, also expressed the encouragement he felt as he witnessed the progress of both cohorts.
“These students and graduates will eventually ‘go forth’ and serve the Church in new, creative, and effective ways of ministry because of their participation in the D.Min. program at St. Vladimir’s,” he said.
“The retreats, workshops, and symposiums that they organize and lead—which are encouraged by the terms of the scholarships—are a visible manifestation to the Church of their learning and commitment to ‘give back,’” he remarked. “And, this, of course, is a necessary obligation of the holder of a doctorate: to create knowledge and to contribute knowledge by passing it on.”
View a full listing of the Cohort of 2017’s D.Min. final project titles, here.
View a video interview with Father Timothy Chrapko, Cohort of 2017, here.
View a video interview with Chaplain Sarah Byrne-Martelli, Cohort of 2019, here.
The Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies offers need-based financial aid for Doctor of Ministry Students. Recipients of funding from the Danilchick Family Endowment for Pastoral Studies agree to give special diocesan and/or parish workshops and/or seminars in their particular areas of pastoral study. At least one such workshop or seminar shall be given by each scholarship recipient in each year they receive aid from this endowment.
Photo credits: Adrienne Soper