St. Vladimir’s Seminary once again partnered with the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative (OCLI) to co-host the 4th Annual National Advanced Leadership Conference. The event took place online September 18-19, 2020 and drew around 150 participants representing five countries, thirty-five states, and twelve Orthodox jurisdictions.
"It was a blessing to gather clergy and laity to support and encourage one another in our responsibilities to serve the body of Christ," said Hollie Benton, OCLI's executive director. "As a doulos tou theou, like the faithful centurion in Matthew’s gospel, each serves as one under the authority of God’s commandment. We are grateful for these opportunities to center servant leadership development in scripture and to remember the accountability we have to its teaching by extending mercy to one another just as Christ our God extends mercy to us."
Over a dozen speakers—notable Orthodox executives, educators, philanthropists, and clergy—took part in the conference, themed, “United as the Body of Christ to Serve Those Divided by Pandemics, Politics, and Persecutions.” The list of speakers included Hierarchs Metropolitans Tikhon (Orthodox Church in America), Joseph (Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America), and Nicolae (Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas), and Archbishop Elpidophoros (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America).
“When we consider servant leadership from a biblical perspective, humility and authority are critical,” said Very Rev. Dr. Sergius Halvorsen, St. Vladimir’s assistant professor and director of the Doctor of Ministry program. Father Sergius, one of several seminary faculty members to take part in the conference, led a discussion regarding foundations of servant leadership to help kick off the conference.
"All of us need to go through this process of understanding that we are all servants, and are under the authority of the Father who is in heaven...,” His Eminence, Metropolitan Nicolae later added. "We need to go through this process again and again."
Other sessions during the two-day conference included “Building Effective Parish Leadership Teams” by Joe Kormos, “Solving Complex Problems with Diverse Teams” by Dr. Katherine Kahn, “Inspiring Generosity and Stewards” by Rev. Dr. Robert Holet, and other presentations and discussions. This year, OCLI also showcased the newly-developed Intensive Program in Servant Leadership.
“These servant leadership conferences have brought something very much needed to the table,” said St. Vladimir’s President Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield. I am pleased we were able to partner with OCLI to co-host again this year. May our combined efforts continue to bear fruit for the health of the Orthodox Church.”
The Seminary and OCLI plan to co-host the next Advanced Leadership Conference next fall. Saint Vladimir’s has also partnered with OCLI to launch a national survey to gauge interest in a hybrid Master of Arts degree with a focus on leadership training.
The Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative exists to nurture and empower Orthodox Christian servant leadership. It is a national initiative to increase generosity, servant leadership, and social outreach by clergy and laity of all jurisdictions working together nationally, regionally, and locally.
Originating from the Orthodox Vision Foundation and its annual Orthodox Advanced Leadership Conferences beginning in 2017 and hosted at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in October 2018.