“Exhibiting at the annual meetings is a highlight of the year for us,” commented Deacon Gregory Hatrak, SVS Press Marketing Director. “It gives us the opportunity to speak with top scholars and connect with other theological publishers. And this year we are especially pleased to announce that St. Isaac the Syrian and His Spiritual Legacy, edited by Metropolitan Hilarion, will be formally released at the annual meetings. The volume is a compilation of papers delivered at the inaugural International Patristics Conference in Moscow in 2013.”
“We are looking forward to sharing our recent releases with the annual meetings participants,” added Production Manager Michael Soroka. “Several of our series — including the well-known “Foundations Series” and our new “Scholarly Monographs Series” — have volumes released this year which make significant contributions to the study of Orthodox theology.” One of those new volumes is the much-anticipated work exploring the role of the Virgin Mary in the history of the Church, Gateway of Life: Orthodox Thinking on the Mother of God, by noted scholar Mary B. Cunningham.
The newest series at SVS Press, the “Scholarly Monographs Series,” aims to encourage the study of the Orthodox Church in academia through the publication of in-depth scholarship of the highest academic rigor. The first offering in this new series, edited by Archpriest Dr. John Behr, seminary Dean, is Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Transylvania (1867–1916): Convergences and Divergences. The volume examines the relationship between the two Romanian communities by incorporating a wealth of archival information.
“For the first time, AAR/SBL is opening the exhibit hall to the public free of charge on Tuesday, November 24,” noted Deacon Gregory. “We hope this will give us an opportunity to catch up with many of our friends and seminary alumni living in the Atlanta area who may not be attending the conference.”
On November 20, 2015, the Henry Luce Foundation announced a grant award of $250,000.00 to Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary here to fund a three-year study of the Sacred Arts, with an emphasis on “material spirituality.” Through a series of conferences, workshops, and seminars to be held in the fall of 2016 through the spring of 2018, the grant award will allow seminary faculty to survey the current landscape of the field of Sacred Arts and to explore the distinctive contribution Orthodox Christian theology can make within it.
“More often than not, the Sacred Arts are studied in isolation, as ‘sacred music,’ ‘sacred art,’ or ‘sacred texts,’” noted Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff, Professor of Systematic Theology at the seminary, “but the liturgy, among other things, impels us towards a holistic approach to the Sacred Arts.
“Instead of thinking exclusively in terms of history, culture, or aesthetics, the Sacred Arts ought to invite a consideration of how the holy, the true, is enfleshed through human creativity,” he explained. “The opportunity to partner with the Henry Luce Foundation with a grant award of $250,000.00, will allow our faculty to lead such an integrated exploration and help us identify and refine our unique contribution.”
Dr. Bouteneff, along with Deacon Evan Freeman, doctoral candidate in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University and lecturer in Liturgical Art at Saint Vladimir’s, will be directing the exploration through five events, based on the seminary campus.
September 2016, “The State of the Sacred Arts” workshop: a survey of the landscape;
February 2017, “Arvo Pärt: Sounding the Sacred” conference: an exploration of Pärt’s music as sacred embodiment in sound;
June 2017, “Sacred Arts and Public Engagement” workshop: a presentation by Krista Tippett, host of the radio program “On Being,” at an internal seminary workshop and at a public panel in New York, NY, examining why the Sacred Arts appeal to the “spiritual but not religious”;
Autumn 2017, “Byzantine Materiality” seminar: a collaboration of select scholars of Byzantium, sharing their research in preparation for a larger conference in Spring 2018; and
Spring 2018, “Byzantine Materiality” conference: an exploration of the roles and meanings of “matter” and “materiality” in Byzantium.
In explaining the particular significance of the final two events, Deacon Evan said that “although Orthodox liturgy and liturgical arts are often described in spiritual terms—sometimes even in opposition to the material world—it is precisely through the matter and materiality of iconography and architecture, liturgical vestments and vessels, and even the sacraments themselves that the Spirit is revealed to us.
“In a time when most of our lives are becoming increasingly ‘digital’ and ‘virtual,’ this project aims to explore the importance of matter and materiality in the Orthodox tradition,” he added.
The grant award was given through the Henry Luce Foundation’s Theology Program, which aims to “advance understanding of religion and theology,” through projects that “cross religious, disciplinary, and geographic borders,” and through support for “scholarship that is theoretically sophisticated, historically informed, critically reflexive, and practically invested.” Read more on the Luce Foundation’s website.
“Orthodox Christianity is for everyone because Orthodox Christianity is simply Christ in His fullness,” says Priest James Bozeman of Saint James Mission here. “One of the great hurdles that we contemporary Orthodox Christians have to overcome is any mindset other than the fact that Christ is ‘the one thing needful,’ applicable and needed by everyone. Orthodox Christianity is the reality that meets that need.”
It was with this rather obvious conviction that Saint James Mission was planted in 2012 with the desire to bring Christ in His fullness to South Carolina’s “low country.” And thanks in part to the support provided by the Orthodox Church in America’s Planting Grant program, Father James and his flock are doing just that.
“We served our first liturgy in Beaufort in July 2012, and since that time we have grown from an initial six committed individuals to a group that is repeatedly filling our small rented building at Sunday Divine Liturgy,” says Father James. “Earlier this year, with the assistance of the Diocese of the South, we were able to purchase a beautiful two-acre piece of property, and we are now in the process of selecting an architect and working to design our future church building.”
Meanwhile, the mission is experiencing membership growth in the form of Orthodox Christians who have moved into the area and new converts to the faith.
“The process of growth always seems slower than we would desire it to be,” adds Father James. “But God has been gracious to draw into His net those who are genuinely seeking Him and hoping to work out their salvation.”
Among the parish’s ministries are a summer program for enquirers and a Wednesday evening study group that currently is studying the Book of Psalms.
“We open our doors to those who are curious during our annual Saint James festival, and we encourage one another to invite family and friends to services,” says Father James, who adds that “some of our parishioners excel at this!”
Sometimes, Father James explains, “it is difficult to be the ‘new church’ in such a venerable and historic town.
“The Baptist Church just down the street from our current location is over 200 years old, while the local Anglican congregation celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2012,” says Father James. “Inspired by this, our mission has two desires—that we, too, may someday enjoy our 300th anniversary, and that over the next 297 years, through Christ, we might work to make complete all that is lacking in those who are seeking Him in His fullness. The Planting Grant is key to making this happen here in Beaufort!
“Am I convinced that Jesus Christ is for everyone and is the way I live this life like the rich sound of a cymbal that cuts through the static and noise that the world offers, drawing men toward Christ?” Father James asks. “Our hope at Saint James Mission is to resonate with the sort of sound that proclaims Christ in all of His grace, love and power.”