Andrew Boyd & Vicki Bowerman

Author: 
Ginny Nieuwsma

The St. John Chrysostom Society is a unique group of committed donors who have made St. Vladimir’s mission their own through ongoing, monthly donations. The reasons that people join the Society are as varied as the people themselves! Here are two of their stories.  

Andrew Boyd

“My history with St. Vladimir’s Seminary has been multi-generational,” says alumnus Andrew Boyd (Class of 2012). A financial services consultant in New York City, Andrew remembers that his grandparents were founding members of a parish in New Jersey under the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and his parents also helped start several missions. “Wherever we lived, my family wanted to see an English speaking church established.” So when the time came for him to make a monthly commitment to support St. Vladimir's through the St. John Chrysostom Society, it was a natural step for Andrew.

“The Seminary's influence on American Orthodoxy has been unmatched,” he notes. “All the things we take for granted now—frequent communion, educated clergy, an intelligible liturgy—were not necessarily the experience of earlier generations before St. Vladimir's was founded.”

From the beginning, theological education at St. Vladimir’s wasn't  viewed as a retreat to an ivory tower, Andrew says. “There has never been an attempt to make a museum of the things that we had in the old world; instead, the Seminary has encouraged us to examine who we are in America and how we can bless and sanctify this place God has given us, here and now."

Andrew says that what he learned at St. Vladimir's in his childhood visits and during his three years on campus has had a direct impact on his demanding corporate career at a large global consulting firm. “For one thing, the formation that takes place in a worshipping residential community is irreplaceable,” he says. “Living alongside others in campus life changes you for the better.”

One of Andrew’s favorite haunts in his years as a seminarian was the library. “There are all kinds of unique books and manuscripts in Florovsky Library not found anywhere else in the world!

“While at St. Vladimir’s, I was frequently reminded that since Orthodoxy is the fullness of the truth, then our foundation is firm and we need not fear our encounters with culture and religious traditions outside of our own. To the contrary, we are actually living out our lives ‘for the life of the world.’”

Through participation in the St. John Chrysostom Society, Andrew says it is his hope and prayer “…that every person studying at St. Vladimir’s will be as good a pastor and representative of the greater Church as the priests who have blessed my family. I want to ensure that this model of fearless and faithful witness will continue for generations to come."

Vicki Bowerman

On the other side of the country from Manhattan, in a town not far from Seattle, WA, Orthodox convert and law enforcement secretary Vicki Bowerman was listening to an Ancient Faith Radio presentation about St. Vladimir’s Seminary when the appeal was made for listeners to join the St. John Chrysostom Society. “I believe that the only hope for our country, for the world, and for my soul, is an encounter with the living Christ through the Holy Orthodox Church,” she notes. “Finances are always tight, but when I heard the call to give to the Seminary on the podcast, I thought, ‘I’ll just do it!’”

Vicki has never visited St. Vladimir’s, but as a convert she has felt the Seminary’s influence in her life. “There are a lot of fine Orthodox organizations,” she says, “and it’s hard to know which ones to give to, but there’s nothing more mission critical than the formation and preparation of priests for ministry. None of us know how much time we have on earth and I wanted to get serious about laying up treasure in heaven.”

Vicki’s family was chrismated in the Orthodox faith out of an evangelical Protestant background, with the encouragement of their convert-friendly Antiochian parish in Southern California. Later, they moved to Washington State; thirteen years ago, she was hired by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office as a Law Enforcement Secretary for the local sheriff’s department.

“The guys I work with are amazing; every day we see people with real hardships and mental illness, but our law enforcement officers are wonderful, patient people. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the suffering that comes through the front door of our office, but I’m blessed with co-workers who seek peace and are patient—spiritual qualities sought by those of us who are Orthodox Christians.”

Now that her three sons and daughter are grown, Vicki is a “mom” to Oso (a German Shepherd), Bridge (an Aussie Retriever), and two feline family members, Little Brother and Pumpkin. She is also learning the ropes as a chanter in her parish, and plans to continue her membership in the St. John Chrysostom Society as long as she can. “It’s been my experience that God honors our commitment to His work; when I put Him first, He takes care of me and things always seem to come out okay in the end.”