A new website is preserving and resurrecting hundreds of lectures delivered by illustrious teachers and brilliant theologians of the Orthodox Church in the twentieth century. St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) launched the new site, digi.svots.edu, this June.
The project is a combined effort by St. Vladimir’s Seminary and the Virginia H. Farah Foundation. The website makes available for the first time in digital format older, analog recordings of renowned professors and guest lecturers from SVOTS past and present, including Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, Fr. Thomas Hopko, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, Sophie Koulomzin, Jaroslav Pelikan, Veselin Kesich, Fr. Paul Lazor, Fr. John Erickson, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, Fr. John Breck, George Cronk, David Drillock, Fr. John Behr, Serge Verhovskoy, and many others.
“It is our dream to share with the world the voices of illustrious Orthodox Christian speakers and theologians who shed light on important aspects, historical moments, and even spiritual movements of the Orthodox Christian Church in the twentieth century, especially in North America,” said Seminary President Archpriest Chad Hatfield, who is also among the dozens of speakers whose recordings are featured on the new website.
Between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, cassettes of many class lectures, seminars, and institutes held on the campus of St. Vladimir's Seminary were often accessed by library patrons. However, as audio technology rapidly advanced and the public began to discard their cassette players, use of the library's cassette collection languished, and important voices once heard in the Orthodox Church were silenced.
Funding from the Virginia H. Farah Foundation for this digitization project brought to life and light the voices of these Orthodox Christian luminaries, helping to spread their ever-relevant words "to the ends of the world" (Ps 19.4). Moreover, the Foundation's funding for this initial project provided a solid basis for SVOTS library staff to build future digital collections—another important step in a continuing endeavor to keep pace with advancing technologies.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of this project,” said Eric Namee, president of the Virginia H. Farah Foundation. “Personally, I was deeply affected by a talk given by Fr. Alexander Schmemann when I was a young man. It’s a privilege to help make Fr. Alexander’s voice, and the voices of so many other great teachers, accessible to everyone.”
In partnership with the Foundation, SVOTS Web Services Director Alexandru Popovici converted around 500 cassettes held in the Seminary’s Father Georges Florovsky Library to digital format, making their contents accessible and portable not only to a new generation but also to a global audience.
“It was a long but very rewarding process,” Popovici explained. “I spent more than six months working to digitize the tapes and to build the online platform which hosts the recordings. It was worth it, knowing that those incredible resources will be available for many more people.”
Access to the recordings on digi.svots.edu is free but requires registering for a free account. To register and learn more about the project, visit digi.svots.edu.
About the Virginia H. Farah Foundation
The Virginia H. Farah Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation dedicated exclusively to the work of the Orthodox Christian Church. The Foundation looks for creative projects and programs that serve as catalysts for progress in the Church and have a lasting impact. Its grant recipients are engaged in all areas of Church life, from humanitarian efforts and missionary labor to education and scholarly work. The Foundation’s goal is to facilitate the work of organizations and projects that will help spread the Orthodox Christian message while carrying out the work of the Church in the world.