Missiology: A New Academic Discipline


9 February 2011

Our Chancellor/CEO the Very Reverend Dr. Chad Hatfield recently returned from presenting a pre-lenten retreat January 28–29, 2011 for Alaskan clergy wives titled "Mary, Mysteries, Mission, and Matushki" in the Village of Napaskiak, hosted by the village priest, Fr. Vasily Fisher. We'll soon post a video of Fr. Chad "mushing" up the tundra near the Kuskowkwim River. See a gallery of photos of his trip!

“Missiology” is one of those words that your “spell check” will underline. Still, the study of the Church’s mission and evangelization is gaining interest in academic circles as a new discipline.

Four of our seminarians were part of the first joint class with Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology to visit Albania this past summer, as part of the new Missions Institute of Orthodox Christianity based at Hellenic College-Holy Cross (HCHC). Our Dean, Fr. John Behr, and I are on the Board of this new venture, which serves both seminaries.

At present we also are exploring how to better incorporate missiology into our core curriculum at St. Vladimir’s. We have several ideas that will take shape over the next couple of years, but twenty-seven students already took an elective course in Missiology on our own campus this past fall.

Part of this Missiology course centered on a class project involving research in a particular area of interest, with a presentation to the entire class. I was so pleased with the effort made by our students that I subsequently asked several of them to sit with me over the next semester, so that we could record their exciting ideas and proposals. I will be using my “Voices from St. Vladimir’s” podcast on Ancient Faith Radio as the medium to broadcast their efforts.

Just a few of the areas they covered included outreach to various groups, such as Native Americans, African Americans, Southern Folk, Educated Urban Elites, Alaskans, and Hispanics. Regional studies were done, with some fascinating discoveries in places like Manhattan, Texas, New England, the Carolinas, Canada, and even Serbia.

Outreach programs were studied and new ideas were developed. Foreign and domestic mission needs were all examined, with input from the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) and the Orthodox Church in America’s (OCA) Department of Evangelism. Our seminarians were excited about their discoveries, and they are anxious to share their findings.

For those of you looking for some continuing education in missiology, please mark June 7–8, 2011, on your calendars. Fathers Moses Berry and Antonio Perdomo will be here on campus, working with me on a summer workshop, with a particular emphasis on bringing Orthodoxy to African Americans and various Spanish-speaking groups.

Missionary activity has been at the heart of my service as a pastor, and I grateful that Missiology, the study of the Church’s mission, is becoming part of the core program at our seminary.