St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute for Eastern Christian Studies
St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute for Eastern Christian Studies is a private, not-for-profit, religious institution of higher learning governed by a Board of Trustees [under the auspices of St. Spyridon Russian Orthodox Church in Union with Old Rome]. The raison d’être of St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute is to recalibrate the critical mandate for religious formation—especially in terms of leadership in apostolia [outreach and mission] and diakonia [sacrificial service]. ECS programs have been certified [in multiple ecclesiastical jurisdictions] to prepare candidates for ordination. Students and alumni now serve as priests, deacons, monks/nuns, chanters, and in other ecclesiastical leadership roles in the following jurisdictions:
The Institute’s students and alumni hail from countries across the world and represent a rich multicultural [and transcultural] mosaic. Their arterial [or heritage] languages include Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Bulgarian, English, French, Greek, Hindi, Macedonian, Mam, Pashto, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Urdu, and many other father/mother tongues and dialects. Students and alumni include administrators, businesspersons, community advocates, composers, corporate leaders, directors, entrepreneurs, housewives, iconographers, insurance brokers, IT managers, lawyers, marine scientists, medical doctors, musicians, nurses, paralegals, police officers, professors, production managers, psychologists, teachers, therapists, and people from many other walks of life. In addition to ECS, many students and alumni have acquired specific and comprehensive supplementary disciplinary knowledge and a full range of integrative skills through the Institute’s interdisciplinary [and transdisciplinary] double majors, minors, and concentrations. Ultimately, such knowledge and skills have enhanced both their Christian service and—in many cases—their professional lives. In spite of their diversity, the students and alumni of St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute are united in their faith in [and submission to] the Lord Jesus Christ and uncompromising obedience to His command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (cf. Matthew 28:19). Moreover, students and alumni are empowered by the Holy Spirit [cf. Acts 1:8] to accomplish their mission/commission in active and ongoing fulfilment of their Nazianzen commitment.
Programs in Eastern Christian Studies
St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute for Eastern Christian Studies provides faith-based distance learning opportunities in higher education through accessible, flexible, and high-quality certificate, diploma, undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs in Eastern Christian Studies (ECS). The certificate, diploma, and degree offerings include:
Specialization tracks [majors] for ECS programs include:
Three key drivers—Orthodox Faith [orthodoxia], Orthodox Mindset [phronema] and Orthodox Practice [orthopraxia]—motivate, impel, and sustain ECS programs and specializations, which focus on the creation of a learning and research environment that fosters growth in knowledge, faith, spiritual life and experience, and service to the Universal Church through a rigorous personal training/coaching regimen of human, spiritual/liturgical, intellectual, and pastoral formation.
In conjunction with the aforementioned ecclesiastical certificate/degree programs and specializations, the Institute offers integrated, [interdisciplinary], double majors, minors, and concentrations in the following:
Interdisciplinary double majors, minors, and concentrations can supplement and strengthen the ECS programs and specialization tracks [in Eastern Orthodox Studies, Eastern Catholic Studies, and Student-initiated Specializations] and assist in the development of a full range of integrative skills in the areas of critical thinking and inquiry, creative synthesis, conceptual blending, dialogue, and multicultural/transcultural thinking. The intention is to foster a creative and transformative paradigm in which movement across the regulated perspectives and methodologies of disciplinary thought and learning can be achieved, and ultimately employed to span the divides between cultures, languages, philosophies, worldviews, and lifeworlds. The dynamic goal-orientation is the formation of servant-leaders who are equipped to ‘break down the middle wall of enmity’, (cf. Ephesians 2:14), and to move across seemingly insurmountable chasms in an effort to ‘bridge and build’ for the Kingdom of God.
Personalized Learning Options
St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute utilizes the Individualized Distance Learning Delivery Model, which combines personal choice, quality, convenience, and flexibility. This model includes:
The model's Open/Rolling Enrollment policy allows a prospective student to submit his/her Admissions Application to the Institute at any time. The Institute then reviews the Admissions Application and notifies the applicant as to the admission decision within a 2-3 weeks after submission. Advanced Placement allows the student to transfer credits from other recognized institutions, [subject to review and approval by the Registrar’s Office], and/or to earn credits upon the satisfactory completion of Advanced Placement examinations/evaluations. FlexStart Scheduling allows the student to choose and register for non-sequential fast-track courses. Independent Study rewards the diligent student by allowing him/her to enroll in a course, complete the requirements, and move on to the next course at his/her own speed or pace. College Level Testing allows the student to translate life experience into academic credit.
The goal of this learner-centered model is to facilitate the student’s pursuit of academic excellence, and moreover, to foment the acquisition of critical thinking, emotional literacy, social intelligence, and other 'hard/soft' skills, [e.g., attention, communication skills, conflict resolution, flexibility, focus, independence, integrity, Christian leadership, motivation, multitasking, organizational skills, patience, self-direction, self-discipline, situational awareness, sound judgment, teamwork, time-management, and tolerance]. Ultimately, St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute’s innovative distance learning programs provide study tracks and spiritual growth pathways that fit the adult learner’s individual needs, schedule, and learning style, making it possible for the student to manage a family, job, career, and/or other responsibilities while studying.
Avgustyn Voloshyn Carpathian University
St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute enjoys a strong Validation Partnership with Avgustyn Voloshyn Carpathian University (UA). The Bilateral Agreement [and Validation Partnership] serves as the framework for a comprehensive model of cooperation and integration between the signatory institutions [including the Uzhgorod Theological Academy]. In addition to establishing credit transfer and program/degree recognition, accreditation, and validation, the partnership promotes:
Nikola Tesla Union University
St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute also maintains a Bilateral Validation Agreement with Nikola Tesla Union University (RS). The Bilateral Agreement serves as a mechanism for joint strategic management and regulates the following:
In addition to the ECS programs listed above, a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate secular degree options are now available at St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute through through Nikola Tesla Union University (NTU). NTU is an institution of higher learning accredited by the Republic of Serbia (RS) Commission for Quality Evaluation, [Komisija za Vrednovanje Kvaliteta]. For information regarding 'St. Gregory Nazianzen Institute program offerings through NTU, see Nikola Tesla Union University Programs of Study or A Guide through Accredited Institutions of Higher Education and Study Programs in Serbia, (pp. 59-61).
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian churches and traditions that emerged in the Middle East, Egypt, Asia Minor, the Far East, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Northeastern Africa, and southern India over the course of several centuries of religious antiquity. The term 'Eastern Christianity' is used to describe all of the Christian traditions that did not develop in Western Europe, and does not describe any single 'Eastern' communion or religious tradition. The dominant Eastern Church today is known as the ‘Eastern Orthodox Church’, and the term ‘Orthodox’ is often used in loose fashion as ‘Eastern’. Notwithstanding, and more accurately, all Eastern Churches consider themselves part of an Orthodox and/or Catholic communion. Eastern Christians do not necessarily have shared religious practices but many Eastern Christian communities have shared cultural traditions.
The terms ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ originated with divisions in the Church that mirrored the cultural and linguistic divides between the Hellenistic East and Latinate West and the political divide between the Western Roman and Eastern Roman Empires. Divisions among Eastern Christians often reflected the cultural, linguistic, political, and ongoing power struggles between the different ethnicities within the Eastern Roman Empire and the competition for political dominance between the Eastern Roman and Persian Empires.
In spite of these divisions, the Church was originally established in the East on the principle of unity, (i.e. catholicity and/or ecumenicity). This is in contrast to the models that then existed in paganism, Judaism, and other ancient belief-systems. For the earliest Christian communities, the concept of Catholic unity was manifested through a confessional understanding of Christianity based upon tradition, which was established on the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Tradition was therefore the 'unifying doctrine', which mystically established a setting that fostered the creation in each individual believer of a personal relationship with God in Christ. Departures from that ‘unifying doctrine’, which disturbed the creation of this salvific relationship, were condemned.
As reputed ‘departures’ or ‘innovations’ surfaced, and/or differences in understanding, interpretation, and/or practice of tradition between the many ancient communities appeared, (which invariably paralleled the existing cultural, linguistic, and political divides), the Church as a united community attempted, (often inadequately), to address, confirm, and/or deny the same. Tradition was the cornerstone to how teachings and practices were deemed to be valid since tradition itself cultivated a relationship with the living God. Subsequently, the Ecumenical and other Councils of the Church attempted not only to define Christianity but also to determine who was a Christian.
Today there are four main branches or families of Eastern Christianity, each of which has a distinct understanding, interpretation, and/or practice of tradition:
(1) The Eastern Orthodox Church
(2) The Oriental Orthodox Churches
(3) The Nestorian Church of the East
(4) The Eastern Orthodox Churches in Union with Rome
Eastern Christians comprise approximately one fifth of the total number of Christians worldwide. Their experience is vital to a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the Christian message and Christianity. Their survival in the most hostile of environments may be the key to the survival of the Church in an increasingly secular world.
From the Acts of the Holy Apostles
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.… And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language… Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words... [T]his is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My servants and on My handmaidens, I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath: blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’… Then Peter said unto them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”.
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