Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary
Ὀρθόδοξος Θεολογικὴ Σχολὴ τοῦ Ἁγίου Φωτίου
The Saint 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 fourteen male students (sharing five private bathrooms), a kitchen and dining hall, classrooms,* an auditorium, a library (the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Theological Library), administrative and faculty offices, quarters for visiting scholars, and a small Chapel. The Seminary maintains a 1,160-square-foot (108-square-meter) residency less than a mile from the main facility with dormitory accommodations for a maximum of six female students (sharing two private bathrooms) and a kitchen.
The Seminary, a private institution, is licensed by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). 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.
The Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary currently holds candidate status for accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) Commission on Accreditation, 5850 T. G. Lee Boulevard, Suite 130, Orlando, Florida 32822‒4408, (407) 207‒0808. “Candidate Status is a pre-accredited status granted to those institutions that show promise of achieving accreditation within a maximum of 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 with sewing machines and sewing supplies.
† The other three organizations are: The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS); the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS); and the Association of Advanced Rabbinical and Talmudic Schools (AARTS).
The Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary is an institution of higher learning that prepares candidates for service to the Orthodox Church in a clerical or teaching capacity.
Institutional Goals. The goals of the Seminary are to serve the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece and to promote the wider Christian witness by preparing clergy and laity to minister to the parishes of its Eparchy in the United States of America and in Canada, as well as in future missions in North America and South America, and by 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.
Institutional Objectives. 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 nurtures 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 the candidate’s spouse and family, if the candidate is already married before entering the 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 Metropolitan Chrysostomos Theological 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 Holy Apostle Paul in his Second Epistle to the Greek Christians of Thessalonica: “Stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught” (II Thessalonians 2:15).