Etna, California, U.S.A.

Seminary News

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Two Seminal Meetings at the Seminary

On Friday, September 18, the Board of Directors of the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary convened an onsite meeting at the Seminary campus. This was the second such onsite meeting of the Board, scheduled, just as was the previous one, to coincide with a visitation from the Seminary’s accrediting agency, the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Eight of the Seminary’s nine Directors met in Etna for the event, the ninth participating remotely by videoconference on account of COVID-19 concerns.

The meeting lasted for some six hours and covered three areas of concern to the Directors: the need for continued fundraising and the progress of the Seminary’s development program, directed by the Seminary’s newly-appointed Communications and Development Director, Alexei Bushunow; future student recruitment opportunities; and the impact of the Seminary’s growth on the current facilities.

Despite its full and complicated agenda, the meeting proceeded on schedule, with all participants approving the materials presented and enthusiastically endorsing various proposals for appropriate and sustainable growth of the Seminary. Beside its biennial onsite meeting, the Board of Directors normally conducts at least two teleconferences every year. All participants agreed that this was the most productive and beneficial meeting to date, notwithstanding the difficulties occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic. See, in the photograph below, the members of the Board of Directors (from left to right): The Reverend Nun Mother Agapia, Mrs. Katherine Lukianov, the Most Reverend Bishop Dr. Auxentios of Etna and Portland, Mr. Alexis V. Lukianov, Mr. Daniel F. Lula, Esq., the Reverend Deacon Father Dr. Peter Bushunow, and Dr. John N. Caminis (members not pictured: the Most Reverend Bishop Sergios of Portland Emeritus and Dr. Nadezhda Nedelsky).

Immediately on the heels of the meeting of the Board of Directors, on Monday, September 21, a five-member evaluation team arrived at the Seminary from the Association for Biblical Higher Education. For the next two days, through Wednesday, September 23, the evaluators reviewed extensive documentation; interviewed members of the Board, administrators, faculty members, and students; and inspected the entirety of the Seminary’s facilities, including classrooms, the library, offices, student housing, and more.

The evaluation team will be completing its report over the next several weeks, which it will then submit with a recommendation to the seventeen-member Commission on Accreditation. The Commission will then review the evaluation team’s report and consider its recommendation before making a final decision, in late February of 2021, on whether or not the Seminary will be advanced to full accreditation. We ask our supporters to pray for a positive decision by the Commission on Accreditation on what has been as intensive endeavor for everyone involved in the accreditation process.

See, in the photograph below, the members of the Association for Biblical Higher Education evaluation team with members of the Seminary administration (from left to right): Dr. M. Shane Wood, Commission on Accreditation Staff Representative; Mr. David Sayers, Team Chair and Resources Evaluator; Dr. Gary W. Streit, Academic Evaluator; the Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Gregory, Librarian and Director of Spiritual Life; the Very Reverend Archimandrite Father Dr. Patapios, Dean; Schemamonk Father Chrysostomos, Treasurer; Dr. Jim J. Adams, Administrative Evaluator; Dr. Heather Shalley, Student Services Evaluator; the Most Reverend Bishop Dr. Auxentios of Etna and Portland, President and Rector; Ms. Gabrielle Asgarian, Registrar; Mr. Alexei Bushunow, Communications and Development Director; (onscreen) Ms. Cynthia Snell, Faculty and Library Evaluator.

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Association for Biblical Higher Education Evaluation Team Visit

The Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary will be hosting a comprehensive accreditation visit by a team of evaluators from the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) from Tuesday, September 22, 2020, to Thursday, September 24, 2020, to determine its compliance with the standards for accreditation. The evaluation team’s report will serve as the basis for the decision on the part of the ABHE’s Commission on Accreditation regarding the Seminary’s advancement from its current status as Candidate for Accreditation to full accreditation.

During the visit, representatives of the ABHE team will entertain comments from the public. Any members of the public interested in making a presentation regarding the Seminary to the team should contact the Seminary by phone at (530) 467‒3544 or via email at spotsO@"spotsz.`school to determine a meeting time. Persons wishing to submit third-party comments related to the institution may send them to Director, Commission on Accreditation, 5850 T. G. Lee Boulevard, Suite 130, Orlando, Florida, 32822‒4408. Persons interested in reviewing the standards for accreditation will find them on the ABHE website at They appear under “About Accreditation.” The Seminary is subject to the Institutional Accreditation Standards.

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Recruitment Conference Held at Seminary

During the week of February 16 through February 22, the Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary hosted a recruitment conference for prospective students. The attendees, who included young people from various parishes of the American Eparchy of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, were able to participate in the life of the Seminary by staying in student housing, by auditing classes, and by sharing meals with the students. See, in the photograph below, participants in the recruitment conference (from left to right): Nektarios Kontogiannes, Alexei Bushunow, Julie Ling, Esther Schenone, Elizabeth Schenone, Gabrielle Asgarian, Sonia Winburne, Nikolaos Papadopoulos, Kira Rapp, Timothy Granger, Bishop Auxentios, Father George Mavromatis, Uriah Lantzer, Aliya Molinari, Teodora Munteanu, Zossima Granger, Presbytera Christine Chernjavsky, Benjamin Chernjavsky, Ruth Schenone, Konstantinos Kontogiannes, and Rachel Schenone.

In addition to being able to experience the usual routine of the Seminary firsthand, the attendees also participated in several special events. On Sunday, February 16, the one-year memorial service for the Most Reverend Metropolitan Dr. Chrysostomos of Etna, the founding father of the Seminary, was held at his graveside, at the Saint Gregory Palamas Monastery, followed by a special memorial banquet hosted by the Sisterhood of the Convent of Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia, which was held in the dining hall of the Seminary.

On the evening of the following day, the Reverend Hierodeacon Father Photii, a graduate of the Seminary and now one of its Instructors, introduced the Patron Saint of the Seminary in a public lecture entitled, “Saint Photios the Great: Patriarch of Constantinople, Confessor, and Equal-to-the-Apostles.” Dr. John C. B. Petropoulos, an Adjunct Professor at the Seminary, also delivered a public lecture, on the evening of the following day, entitled, “The Reception of Aesop’s Fables in Ancient Greece and Byzantium.” Both lectures, which were held in the auditorium of the Seminary, were well received by their audiences. See, in the photograph below, Dr. Petropoulos lecturing in the Seminary auditorium.

On Wednesday, February 19 (that is, February 6 Old Style), the Most Reverend Bishop Dr. Auxentios of Etna and Portland, Rector of the Seminary, served a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in honor of the Seminary’s Patron, Saint Photios the Great, in the Church of the Convent of Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia. Before the commencement of the Divine Liturgy, His Eminence tonsured as Readers two of the seminarians, Mr. Timothy Granger and Mr. Uriah Lantzer. The Seminary community extends its heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Timothy and Uriah, wishing them many years of service to the Church. See, in the photograph below, Bishop Auxentios with the newly-tonsured Readers Timothy Granger (left) and Uriah Lantzer (right).

Following the Divine Liturgy, a festal banquet in honor of Saint Photios the Great, hosted, once again, by the Sisterhood of the Convent of Saint Elizabeth the Grand Duchess of Russia, was held in the dining hall of the Seminary. Later that evening, the students and the attendees were invited to join the Seminary administration in a discussion, held in the auditorium, about future plans for expanding the Seminary’s facilities. The final group activity was an informal dinner followed by a question-and-answer session, held in the dining hall on the evening of Thursday, February 20.

The Seminary sincerely thanks all of those whose participation in this recruitment conference made it such a wonderful success! See, in the photograph below, members of the faculty and administration of the Seminary with the students and conference attendees.

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Seminary Professor Appointed Senior Editor of a Prestigious Project in Classical Philology

The Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary is delighted to announce that Dr. John C. B. Petropoulos, Professor of Ancient Greek Literature at the Democritean University of Thrace, Director Emeritus of Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Nafplion, Greece, and an Adjunct Professor at the Seminary, has recently been selected as one of the senior editors of a major ongoing project based at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C., “A Homer Commentary in Progress.” This project constitutes, according to Gregory Nagy of Harvard University, one of its founding authors, “the first and only such commentary that is based squarely on the cumulative research of Milman Parry and Albert Lord, who together created a new way of thinking about Homeric poetry,” namely, that it “is a system generated from oral traditions.”

Professor Petropoulos, who earned his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford under the supervision of Sir Kenneth Dover, is well known in the world of classical philology as a specialist in Homer. In 2011, his book Kleos in a Minor Key: The Homeric Education of a Little Prince, an important study of a somewhat neglected character in the Odyssey, Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, was published by the Center for Hellenic Studies.

The Administration and Faculty of the Seminary congratulate Professor Petropoulos on his appointment to the editorial team of such an important new project in Homeric studies.

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