Orthodox leaders gather for unique conference

More than eighty people took part as the Orthodox Advanced Leadership Conference returned to St. Vladimir’s Seminary (SVOTS). The conference, titled, “Faith and Business Synergy,” began Thursday, September 28 and ended after Divine Liturgy at Three Hierarchs Chapel Sunday, September 30.

This was the second Leadership Conference hosted by the Orthodox Vision Foundation (OVF) at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. The inaugural conference, called “historic” and “groundbreaking” by many attendees, was held in 2017.

“I was a part of it last year, and it was terrific,” said Hank Hanegraaff, also known as the “Bible Answer Man,” who also participated in this year’s conference. “The people who are speaking at this conference come from a wide range of leadership capacities; the spiritual input, the leadership principles, and the way that these principles are being disseminated I think is just top notch.”

In addition to Hanegraaff, the pre-selected attendees included bishops, priests, deacons, monastics, and lay leaders from several Orthodox Christian jurisdictions and across North America. Notably, speakers included His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, archbishop of Washington and metropolitan of All America and Canada (Orthodox Church in America); His Eminence and Geron Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America; and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, archbishop of New York and metropolitan of all North America (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese). His Grace Bishop John of the Diocese of Worcester and New England (Antiochian Archdiocese) was also a participant. Other distinguished participants and speakers included Chick-fil-A President Tim Tassopoulos, well known authors Fr. Josiah Trenham, Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green, and Rod Dreher, former Exxon Mobile executive and SVOTS Trustee Emeritus Protodeacon Peter Danilchick, and several faculty and alumni of SVOTS.

His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon welcomed his brother hierarchs to the conference and addressed all of the conference participants.

“I am encouraged by the fact that the initiative and unbounded energy of [OVF Founder] Mr. Charles Ajalat has allowed us to meet again this year for this most excellent and important gathering of leaders of the Orthodox world in North America,” said His Beatitude.

“The lands of North America are the desert in which labor and strive to serve Christ and are perhaps not so far removed from the desert into which the Holy Apostles journeyed after the resurrection and ascension….,” Metropolitan Tikhon added. “If there is a plan for us in North America, it should be this: to make this place a special place by our special care for it. This is not a new plan, but something that we, as Orthodox Christians, have been doing already.”

The Orthodox Vision Foundation was founded by Charles and Marilee Ajalat, whose son, Richard Ajalat, is an alumnus of SVOTS (’13). The organization funds a broad range of issues and organizations that tackle everything from feeding and equipping the homeless and working poor, to spreading the Orthodox Church’s worldview, to church governance and policy issues, to ongoing education for our clergy and lay leaders, and launching new ministries.