Seminarian Alexander Earl wins St. Matthias Merit Scholarship Essay Contest

20 Oct 2020 • Yonkers, NY

St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) has announced Seminarian Alexander Earl as the winner of the 2020 St. Matthias Merit Scholarship Essay Contest.

The contest was opened to current SVOTS students at the beginning of the fall semester. For his winning entry, titled, “Thou Hast Prepared a Table Before Me…,” Earl will have $3,000 in award money added to his scholarship fund.

The topic of this year’s contest asked seminarians to reference Matthew 7:13-14 and the life of St. John Chrysostom to help young Christians approach “speaking the truth in love” when those around us may not be open to—or may even be hostile toward—what the Church teaches. Earl writes:

Etiquette used to advise not talking about politics or religion at the dinner table…. In truth, it is politics and religion that are worth talking about. In classical philosophy, the former was all about how to structure the polis (the city) so as to promote the common good, which was seen as a god-like activity, for it is God who oversees and orders the universe. The latter was an even greater activity; religion was about how we ought to live in this life such that we not only live like God, but dwell with him! There could hardly be topics more important for us to think about and discuss.

Read the winning entry in its entirety here.

Alexander Earl is a 28-year-old Master of Divinity (M.Div.) student in his first year at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS). A graduate of Yale Divinity School, he had been on his way to becoming an Anglican priest when he discovered Orthodoxy reading St. Vladimir’s Seminary (SVS) Press books for his patristics classes. He and his wife, Danielle, who is now the librarian at SVOTS, were teaching at a private high school in the Los Angeles area when they attended their first Divine Liturgy in 2017. Feeling like they had come home spiritually, they were received into the Orthodox Church the following year.

The St. Matthias Merit Scholarship Essay Contest is offered annually, thanks to the generous contributions of a family of anonymous donors. These donors also selected the topic of the 2020 essay contest and developed thorough and thoughtful criteria to determine the winner.

The contest is one of many offerings by the Seminary to help its seminarians graduate tuition-debt free as they go forth to serve the Church. SVOTS also administers need-based tuition grants, need-based scholarships, merit scholarships, continuing education grants, and matching grant opportunities for seminarians. These are made possible thanks to many benefactors who have graciously given funds to St. Vladimir’s.