St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary
Ὀρθόδοξος Θεολογικὴ Σχολὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Φωτίου
The St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary is a small institution of higher education under the jurisdiction of the American Eparchy of the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece. The Seminary is located in the town of Etna, in the mountains of Northern California, approximately one hour south of the Oregon border. It is housed in a large two-story, 10,500 square foot (975 square meter) complex of forty-two rooms with dormitory accommodations for a maximum of twelve students (sharing four private bathrooms), a kitchen and cafeteria, classrooms,* a small Chapel, a lecture hall, a library, administrative and faculty offices, and quarters for visiting scholars.
The Seminary, a private institution, is licensed by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. Licensure means that the institution is compliant with the minimum standards contained in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Division 7.5 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations.
St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary currently holds applicant status for accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation, 5850 T. G. Lee Blvd., Ste. 130, Orlando, FL 32822, (407) 207-0808. “Applicant status is a pre-membership status granted to those institutions that meet the ABHE Conditions of Eligibility and that possess such qualities as may provide a basis for achieving candidate status within five years.” The ABHE is one of the four national faith-related accrediting organizations for religious schools and seminaries that are recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).**
* Classrooms are equipped with whiteboards, computers, and audio recording equipment. Classrooms designated for instruction in practical skills (iconography and vestment-making) are equipped with easels and art supplies, as well as sewing machines and sewing supplies.
** The other three organizations are: the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the largest; the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS); and the Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS).
The mission of the St. Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary is to serve the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and the wider Christian witness by preparing candidates for the Priesthood and Diaconate to minister to the parishes of its Eparchy in the U.S.A. and Canada, as well as future missions in North America, and providing them with the necessary theological, spiritual, liturgical, moral, pastoral, and intellectual formation to perform the Mysteries, foster Church growth through missionary work, teach the Orthodox Faith, and, in accordance with the dictates of Christian Scripture, care for those in need, both within and outside the parish community.
The primary objective of the Seminary is to offer rigorous training to students in those academic and practical disciplines that are requisite for active service to the traditionalist Orthodox Church, mainly as clergy, but also as cantors, teachers, and iconographers. Students will also be educated in Scripture, theology, languages, philosophy, history, and pastoral psychology, which are necessary elements in forming a modern Christian apologetic that, though employing the language of our day, attests to the immutable Truths passed down to us from the early Church, including the Church Calendar (sometimes called the “Old” or “Julian” Calendar) that we follow, in which we have our roots.
The specific objectives of the Seminary are to ensure that its students graduate with a thorough knowledge and accurate comprehension of the primacy of Scripture and its expression in, and concord with, the teachings of the Church Fathers, Holy Tradition, and the sacred doctrines of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In a quiet, rural environment conducive to spiritual growth and serious theological study, the Seminary will nurture the vocations of its students, affording them the unique opportunity of learning and studying Orthodox theology in the framework of their daily experience of the Eastern Orthodox spiritual, ascetical, liturgical, and mystical tradition. Active participation in that tradition will enable students to experience firsthand the spiritual depth of the Orthodox Church and its divine worship and aims.
Being keenly aware of the serious commitment, in terms of relocation and the time demanded of those who desire to serve the Church, the Seminary seeks to facilitate the admission of qualified candidates to its degree programs. To this end, it strives to provide those whom it admits with a high quality, yet suitably affordable, seminary education, such that no truly capable candidate will be turned away for lack of financial means or undue strain on his wife and family, if he is already married before entering seminary.
The Seminary also hopes, as funds permit, to sponsor short periods of sabbatical or independent study for Orthodox scholars of note, who will be provided room and board and the use of the library, as well as the opportunity to interact with students and, when possible, offer lectures and instruction.
In the twenty-first century, Orthodox theological education is facing many special challenges. It must deal with the increasing deviations in the society around us from the religious and moral values of traditional Christian life. At the same time, it is confronted with deviations in the Orthodox world itself from the unified witness of Holy Tradition, the Patristic consensus, and the indispensable Biblical foundations of our doctrines, moral behavior, and Church polity. The Seminary clearly sees its role as an essential one in the defense of our Faith against innovation and the preservation of all that which we have inherited from Christ. Hence, the motto of the Seminary, from the words of the Apostle Paul in his Second Epistle to the Greek Christians of Thessalonike: “Stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught.”