Very Rev. Dr. John Jillions

Very Rev. Dr. John Jillions

Associate Professor of Religion and Culture

Fr John Jillions is Associate Professor of Religion and Culture at St Vladimir’s Seminary and pastor of Holy Ghost Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut (this community was founded in 1894 as the first Orthodox parish in New England). He is also an adjunct lecturer at Fordham University where he teaches a course on “Faith and Critical Reason.” He served for seven years as Chancellor of the Orthodox Church in America (2011-2018). Prior to that he was Associate Professor of Theology at the Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, where he was a member of the Faculty from 2003. He taught courses in Orthodox Theology, 20th c. Orthodox Thought, New Testament, East-West Ecumenism and Pastoral Theology. He also directed the DMin program there for a number of years. He has taken an active interest in promoting interfaith and inter-Christian understanding. He has served on various ecumenical bodies and was vice-president of the Canadian Council of Churches 2009-2011 and has written numerous scholarly and popular articles.  

Fr John was born in Montreal in 1955 and is a life-long member of the Orthodox Church. Ordained deacon in 1981 and priest in 1984 he has served communities in New York City, Rahway (NJ), Australia (Brisbane), Greece (Thessaloniki), the UK (Cambridge), Canada (Ottawa and Brockville, ON) and at the OCA Chancery’s St Sergius Chapel in Syosset, NY.

He was founding director of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, England and served as its first Principal (1997-2002). Early in his career he served as administrator of SS Cosmas and Damian Adult Home and as an officer of Bankers Trust Corporation. In 1990-92 he had a brief stint as a chaplain (Captain) in the US Air Force Reserve. He is married to Denise (Melligon) and has three grown sons, Andrew (married to Alice; grandchildren Eloise and James), Alexander and Anthony.

Educational Background

• B.A. (Economics), McGill University, 1977
• M.Div., St Vladimir’s Seminary, 1980
• Ph.D. (New Testament), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2002
• D.Min., St Vladimir’s Seminary, 2005

Teaching Interests

New Testament, pastoral theology, spiritual life, faith and culture, ecumenical thought

Current Projects and Research Interests

Divine guidance, delusion, division and discernment; the intersection of faith and human experience; the other as enemy; faith and political life; “nones and dones”; the Orthodox Church in American history

Recent Courses Taught at SVOTS

  • Ministry in a Secular Age (D.Min.)

Selected Publications


Articles and Chapters in Books:

  • “Academic Freedom,” The Wheel, Summer 2020.
  • “How Roman skeptics shaped debates about God,”
  • “Divine Guidance: Lessons From the Pluralistic World of Paul’s Corinth,” Perichoresis: the Theological Journal of Emanuel University, summer 2020.
  • “Kenotic Ecumenism,” in Paul McPartlan and Geoffrey Wainwright (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies, Oxford University Press: 2018.
  • “Response to N.T. Wright, ‘Learning from Paul Together: How New Insights into Paul’s Teaching can Help Move us Forward in Mission,’” Lausanne Orthodox Initiative [Evangelical and Orthodox scholars in dialogue], September 2-17, Cambridge, UK, St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 62.4 (2018).
  • “‘Thicket of Idols’: Alexander Schmemann’s Critique of Orthodoxy,” The Wheel 19 (Winter 2019).
  • “Obergefell v. Hodges: Questions for Orthodox Christians,” Symposium on Orthodox Pastoral Care and Sexuality, Vrije University of Amsterdam, June 5-9, Amsterdam, The Wheel 13/14 (Spring/summer 2018).
  • The Amerikanskii Pravoslavnyi Vestnik (The Russian Orthodox American Messenger) 1917-18: in the Aftermath of Revolutions in Russia,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, 61.2 (2017).
  • “Spiritual Guidance in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition,” in John Mabry (ed.), Spiritual Guidance Across Religions: a sourcebook for spiritual directors and other professionals providing counsel to people of differing faith traditions, Woodstock, Vermont: SkyLight Paths, 2014.
  • “The Language of Enemies,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 50.3-4 (2009).

Edited books

  • Inward Being and Outward Identity: the Orthodox Churches in the 21st Century, special issue of Religions (journal and e-book), 2018.
  • John A. Jillions and Michael Plekon, editors, of Antoine Arjakovsky, The Way: Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and their Journal 1925-1940, English translation (by Jerry Ryan) of La generation des penseurs religieux de l’émigration russe, Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 2013.

Recent Conference Presentations and Activities

  • “Fasting; Jewish, Christian, Muslim,” panel, Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, 17 May 2020
  • “Bridging Voices: Contemporary Eastern Orthodox Identity and the Challenges of Pluralism and Sexual Diversity in a Secular Age,” panel, Fordham University, 19 November 2019
  • “Bridging Voices: digital workshop,” panel, Fordham-Exeter-British Council, 14 December, 2019
  • “Differences and Discernment in St Paul’s Corinth,” lecture at The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Summer School, August 2019.
  • Speaker at book launch of Razvan Porumb’s Orthodoxy and Ecumenism: Towards an Active Metanoia (Peter Lang, 2019), August 2019.
  • Orthodox Response to N.T. Wright, “Learning from Paul Together: How New Insights into Paul’s Teaching can Help Move us Forward in Mission,” Lausanne Orthodox Initiative, September 2017, Cambridge, UK.
  • “Overshadowed by the Spirit: Mary as Embodiment of Holiness,” Eastern Churches Seminar, Notre Dame College, October 2017, Cleveland, Ohio
  • “The Beginning of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge,” Standing at the Crossroads: Challenges and Opportunities for Orthodoxy in the West (with Archbishop Rowan Williams and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware), June, 2017, Cambridge, UK.
  • “Obergefell v. Hodges: Questions for Orthodox Christians,” Symposium on Orthodox Pastoral Care and Sexuality, Vrije University of Amsterdam, June 5-9, 2017, Amsterdam.

Recent Awards

  • St Innocent Award (Orthodox Church in America), 2018