Berkeley, CA - The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute and the Graduate Theological Union will offer a Master of Arts in Orthodox Christian Studies. This is the first accredited graduate program in Orthodox Christian theology in the United States not offered by an Orthodox seminary. It is also the first program of its kind west of Pennsylvania. Applications for enrollment in September 2004 are now being accepted by the GTU.
According to Dr. Anton Vrame, Director of the PAOI, "The MA program provides an opportunity for men and women to study Orthodox theology at the GTU in a scholarly and systematic manner in order to pursue additional graduate studies, to serve the community in a lay capacity, or to explore the possibility of entering ordained ministry. Many of the courses were already being taught, so we merely reorganized them and placed them under the umbrella of this degree program. We are very pleased that the GTU accepted our proposal to create the program. This was a dream of the Institute’s founders and now that dream is becoming a reality."
The program is a traditional two-year Master of Arts program, requiring fourteen courses, a language requirement, and a thesis. Faculty members from the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute will offer courses and serve as advisors to students in the program. The program will also take advantage of the rich areas of instruction at the member schools of the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley.
The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute was founded as a Pan-Orthodox center at the Graduate Theological Union. Ecclesiastically, the Institute is under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Courses in Orthodox theology are taught through the Alexander G. Spanos Chair in Eastern Orthodox Studies of the GTU. Dr. John Klentos, a specialist in Orthodox liturgy teaches through the chair. Additional faculty teaching in the M.A. program will be Dr. Anton Vrame, a specialist in theology and education, and Paul Manolis, in Greek and modern Church history. The Institute will also be offering additional courses in Orthodox studies through adjunct faculty. For example, John Thomas, a specialist in Byzantine Studies will offer a course on the Byzantine Church. "Our hope," according to Dr. Vrame, "is that this program will be so successful that we will be able to hire an additional full-time faculty member fairly quickly. Ideally, we would like to see the creation of an endowed chair at the Institute itself."
The Graduate Theological Union is an ecumenical and interfaith consortium of nine independent seminaries and ten affiliated centers based in Berkeley, California. About the creation of the program, Rev. Dr. Arthur Holder, Dean of the Graduate Theological Union stated, "I am delighted that the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute and the Graduate Theological Union will cooperate to offer an MA in Orthodox Christian Studies. Building on the longstanding affiliation between the two institutions, this new academic program will enable students to study the rich heritage of Orthodox theology and spirituality in the context of an ecumenical and Interreligious environment."
For more information about the MA in Orthodox Christian Studies, contact: either the Graduate Theological Union or the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute.
Anton C. Vrame, Ph.D., Director
Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute
2311 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709