Very Rev. Dr. John Jillions

Very Rev. Dr. John Jillions

Associate Professor of Religion and Culture

Fr John A. 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. Throughout his priestly and academic career 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. He has written numerous scholarly and popular articles.   In 2020 Oxford University Press will publish his book, Divine Guidance— Discernment, Decisions, and Delusion: Voices from the Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian Worlds of Paul’s Corinth. A children’s story-poem, The Christmas Story: Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, will also be published next year by Xist Publishing.

Fr John was born in Montreal in 1955 and is a life-long member of the Orthodox Church. He has a BA in economics from McGill University and theological degrees from St Vladimir's Seminary (MDiv ‘80, DMin ‘05) and the University of Thessaloniki (PhD, New Testament, ‘02). 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., McGill University
  • M.Div., St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
  • D.Min., St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
  • Ph.D., Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Teaching Interests

  • Religion and Culture
  • New Testament
  • Pastoral Theology
  • Ecumenism

Current Projects and Research Interests

My book on divine guidance, discernment and delusion will appear in 2020, and I am interested in how people today (as well as in the past) experience and discern God’s direction in their lives. I am also interested in how Orthodox Christians serve, build bridges, and connect with others in our fragmented but spiritually-seeking world.

Recent Courses Taught at SVOTS

  • Ministry in a Secular Age

Selected Publications


  • Divine Guidance— Discernment, Decisions, and Delusion: Voices from the Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian Worlds of Paul’s Corinth. Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2020.
  • The Christmas Story: Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem [a children’s book], Xist Publishing, forthcoming 2020.
  • Inward Being and Outward Identity: The Orthodox Churches in the 21st Century (editor).  Special issue of the journal Religions May 2017.  
  • Michael Plekon and John A. Jillions (eds. of English translation), Antoine Arjakovsky, The Way:  Religious Thinkers of the Russian Emigration in Paris and their Journal, Notre Dame University Press (2013).

Chapters in Books

  • “Kenotic Ecumenism,” in Paul McPartlan and Geoffrey Wainright (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies, Oxford University Press, 2018.
  • “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: Moorehouse, 2014). 
  • “How Do You See? Towards an Eastern Orthodox Approach to Practical Theology,” in Karlijn Demasure and Luc Tardif (Eds.), Théologie Pratique, Pratiques de Théologie, Quebec: Mediaspaul(2014).
  • “Can These Bones Live? Ezekiel, Jesus and the Challenge of the ‘Other,’” in Festschrift in Honor of  Professor Paul Nadim Tarazi, VOLUME 3 Studies in Intertestamental, Extra-Canonical, and Early Christian Literature, Edited by Tom Dykstra and Vahan Hovhanessian. New York: Peter Lang, 2015.
  • “Bishops, Pentecost and Orthodox Identity,” in William Mills (Ed.), Church and World: Essays in Honor of Michael Plekon (Orthodox Research Institute, 2013).
  • “Orthodox Christianity in the West: the Challenge of Ecumenism,” in Mary Cunningham and Elizabeth Theokritoff (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Christian Orthodox Theology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  • “An Orthodox Reading of 1 Cor 1:18-31: Any Room for the Methodists?”  in ST Kimbrough (Ed.), Orthodox and Wesleyan Ecclesiology, Crestwood, NY: Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008.
  • “What is Orthodox Christianity?” chapter 2 in David Hilborn (ed.), Evangelicalism and the Orthodox Church, Acute/Paternoster, 2001.

Papers in Refereed Journals

  • “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, (Winter 2019)
  • “Obergefell v. Hodges: Questions for Orthodox Christians,” The Wheel (Spring 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.)
  • “The Servant Church: Nicholas Zernov’s Rethinking of Christian Unity,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 51:3-4 (2011)
  • “Three Orthodox Models Christian Unity: Traditionalist, Mainstream, Prophetic,” International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church 9:4 (November 2009): 295-311.
  • “The Language of Enemies,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 50:3-4 (2009).
  •   “Ecumenism and the Paris School of Orthodox Theology,” Theoforum 39:3 (2008).
  •  “Review Essay:  Patrick Viscuso, A Quest for Reform of the Orthodox Church: the 1923 Pan-Orthodox Congress, An Analysis and Translation of Its Acts and Decisions, Berkeley, CA: InterOrthodox Press, 2006,”  in Studia Canonica 41:2 (2007), 507-514.
  • Connecting Liturgy and Spirituality: Notes from Eastern Christian Experience, Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 48:1-2 (2007).
  • Review Essay: “Communion in the Messiah: Lev Gillet and Jewish-Christian Relations,”  Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 47:3-4 (2006), 111-129.
  • Mary Among the Catholics and Anglicans: An Orthodox Response, Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 47:1-2 (2006),  313-319.
  • Prospects for Catholic-Orthodox Relations: Toward a New Beginning, Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 46 (2005):3-4, 501-512.
  • Review Essay: “Symeon Rodger, The Five Pillars of Life, in Canadian Journal of Orthodox Christianity 1:1 (2005).
  • “Pastoral Theology: an Orthodox Perspective,” The British Journal of Theological Education, 13:3 (Winter, 2003).
  •  “I kathodigisi tou anthropou apo to theo stin anthropologia tou apostolou Paulou” [“Divine Guidance in the anthropology of the Apostle Paul”], in Proceedings of the International Conference, O anthropos kata ton Apostolou Paulo [The human being in the anthropology of the Apostle Paul] Veroia, Greece, 2002
  • “Jesus and Nature,” In Communion, Issue 26 Spring 2002
  • “Theological Education in the Orthodox Tradition: Personal Reflections,” The British Journal of Theological Education, 10:2 (Winter 1999)
  • “Religion and Social Values in Russia and the New States,” St. Catherine’s Conference Papers, June 1999
  • “Love and curses: searching St. Paul for a new vision of ecumenism,” Sobornost, April 1998; condensed and re-printed in Theology Digest, May 1999
  • “Self-love,” Sourozh: A Journal of Christian Life and Thought, No.65, August 1996 (and reply to responses, Sourozh, No. 67, February 1997)
  • “Review Essay: The Greek New Testament, Fourth Edition,” St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 39:2 (1995)

Book Reviews

  • Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Orthodox Witness Today, Geneva: WCC, 2006, in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 48:1-2 (2007).
  • Peter Bouteneff, Sweeter than Honey: Orthodox Thinking on Dogma and Truth, in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 48:1-2 (2007).
  • Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, The Mystery of Faith, in The Canadian Orthodox Messenger (Spring 2007).
  • Jaroslav Pelikan, Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible Series, Volume 1), in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 46 (2006):1-2.
  • John Binns, An Introduction to The Christian Orthodox Churches, in The Ecumenical Review (April 2004.)

Translations (from Russian)

  • Alexander Schmemann, The Virgin Mary, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995 [translation of selected essays]
  • Alexander Schmemann, The Church Year, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1994 [with introduction]
  • Alexander Schmemann, I Believe, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991
  • Nicholas Afanasiev, “Presbytides or Female Presidents: Canon 11, Council of Laodicea,” in T. Hopko (Ed.), Women and the Priesthood, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1983.

Recent Conference Presentations and Activities

  • “The Book of Acts: A Guide for Orthodox Mission in the 21st Century,” Montreal Institute for Orthodox Theology, May 2015.
  • “50 Years After ‘The Letter from Birmingham Jail’: an Orthodox Response,” Christian Churches Together, Conference in Birmingham, AL, April 2013.
  • “St Alexis: Courage, Confidence and the Cross,” Annual St Alexis Toth Lecture, St Mary’s Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN, May 2012.
  • “The Future of Ecumenical Studies: an Eastern Orthodox Perspective,” keynote address at WCC consultation, Sibiu, Romania, November 2010.
  • “‘Thicket of Idols’: Alexander Schmemann’s Critique of the Orthodox Church,” American Academy of Religion, Atlanta, GA, October 2010.
  • “Jesus: Myth, Metaphor or Messiah?” Sheptytsky Institute Study Days, Edmonton, AB, July 31, 2010.
  • “Reconciling Mary’s Quarrelsome Children: the Pochaev Icon of the Theotokos Among Orthodox and Catholics in Ukraine and Canada,” The Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Lancashire, UK, July 20, 2010.
  • “The Changing Face of Eastern Orthodox Families in North America: Participant Observations By a Married Priest With Children,” International Conference on the Family, Saint Paul University, May 2010.
  •  “Faith and a Sustainable Economy: an Eastern Orthodox Perspective,” Canadian Council of Churches consultation, Ottawa, 2009.
  • “Integrating Orthodox Theological Education into the University: Case Studies from Cambridge (UK) and Canada,” Orthodox Theological Society of America, Chicago, June 12-14, 2008.

Recent Awards

  • St Innocent Award (Orthodox Church in America), 2018
  • Teaching Excellence Award, Saint Paul University, 2010