Finally, Some Good News!

I am happy to report that Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY (ROCOR) has expanded its programs.

It is now offering a Masters of Divinity degree for the first time.

AXIOS! to Jordanville (and Fr Alexander F C Webster for spearheading this effort).


  1. Michael Bauman says

    Being a contrarian: What the state grants, the state can take away. Pressure to change Church teachings to keep accreditation? Hope not. God bless the school and Fr. Alexander with the wisdom and strength necessary to stay the right course.

    • Like it or not, the M.Div. is considered to be the theological degree that allows clergy to be considered “legitimate” and “accredited” in American society. Of course it does not mean that one will be an excellent pastor with an M.Div., just like not having an M.Div. means that one is a sub-standard Orthodox priest. But, for example, one cannot be a military chaplain or a hospital chaplain in many areas in the U.S.A. without an M.Div. It allows clergy to get their foot in the door to minister to the people who need it.

      Great job Jordanville for making this happen!

      • Billy Jack Sunday says


        That is how it works here

        You have a choice in America

        Get an MDiv (after a nice round of 4 years of institutionalized conditioning of secularized undergraduate work, having all the finances and energy, blessings and no impediments)

        Or troll

      • I can’t see why an Mdiv is such a big deal. Many years ago my Orthodox convert godfather attended Berkeley Divinity School before ordination as an episcopal cleric. He earned a Bdiv. A few years later Yale bought the school. He then received an Mdiv in the mail with Yale’s name on it. Biggo-dealo as he used to say. If anyone thinks it makes a dime’s worth of difference they’re right; I bet the tuition to get an Mdiv is much higher than it would be if “only” a Bdiv was earned. The instruction won’t change, the students will still be required to learn Slavonic, the ROCOR parish will still pay them almost nothing. They get to wear a very tall hat it seems. Welcome to academic economics, Jordanville! Will the NCAA be next to come calling to get its claws into them?

    • It is nice that Jordanville is offering the masters program. We Orthodox have our own way of educating clergy In Russian this is called “Духовная Академия”, “Theological Academy” or, if it is attached to a monastery, in the old days it was simply called a “Богослов”, as in the days of Saint John Maximovitch in Serbian Bitola.

      It is only recently that we are beginning to see competent clergy emerging out of the “Western system”:

      And the anecdote about St John at the end of this biography is touching:

  2. George, I can’t remember if you blogged about the suggestion — I think it was first made on Public Orthodoxy — that Holy Cross and St. Vladimir’s should merge together to create one seminary. Would be interested in your thoughts on that.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Not a bad idea but the only way I see it happening if the land and facilities at Brookline are sold in some fire-sale type of situation.

  3. That fire sale idea in Brookline will probably happen sooner than later. Holy Cross is effectively bankrupt and their leadership is clueless. 6-9 months before belly up.

  4. Michael Bauman says

    Of course an M.Div has nothing to do with spiritual formatuon. It is nice window dressing if the actual work of spiritual formation is also taking place. As a convert I have always looked to Jordonville for more. I hope this is not a nose of the camel.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Nor does accreditation impede spiritual formation.

      However, the lack of accreditation does impede the ability of Orthodox clergy to minister to many people.

      • A.S.,

        How so? I’m honestly curious.

        • Antiochene Son says

          Many organizations, such as prisons, hospitals, and the military, require an M.Div from an accredited institution to be a chaplain.

      • Michael Bauman says

        They can fit but it depends on which has priority. As I said, I am sure Fr. Alexander can and will manage the fit well and also any attempted encroachment by the state.

        Not having accreditation does not ensure spiritual formation for sure. However, there are many examples of a lot of education and no sense or intelligence.

        I work in an industry that requires a great deal of licensing and accediting. It is mostly a pain and does little to increase or maintain quality or honesty. It keeps some people out and allows for the expulsion of the most eggregious actions.

        I suppose I am cynical of academic degrees and process because of the cess pool that education has become in the US. The public face is horrible.

        I trust, hope and pray that Fr. Alexander and Jordonville will not be any part of that. Perhaps we will no longer have purported “Orthodox” theologians who know little of the faith and attack it all the time graduated with M.Divs from secular universities.

        • Antiochene Son says

          I share your views, but I would extend it to college degrees in general. In a perfect world, I agree that a degree should have no weight at all, but whether a person can accomplish the task or not.

          Unfortunately, college degrees have become a proxy for judging a person’s dedication to their chosen field of work. (That is starting to change though, because people are waking up to the exorbitant costs and minimal value of higher education in its present form.) As long as that is the case, we can either play along or lose some opportunities to minister to people who are hurting the most (thinking of chaplaincies).

          I certainly don’t think education makes the priest! All of our hymns for the feast of Pentecost boast about how the Holy Spirit made philosophers out of fishermen.

          But in certain contexts the formal education does help. And if the clergy have to go through the education anyway, it may as well have the accoutrements that impart the precious M.Div that everybody wants to see.

  5. Jackson Downs says

    I think Fr. Alexander is trustworthy, and he is very bright and capable and accomplished. But it is also true that he does not have an Orthodox Theological Degree. That doesn’t mean he is less of an educator than anyone at HC or SVS or STS, but it has often been a basic prerequisite for a professorship at an Orthodox seminary in the USA, and certainly a deanship. Harvard Divinity School is exactly what it sounds like. People go there for actually training in ministry are usually people who want to say they are Ivy League trained clergy. I think he might have had this streak in him at the time – but perhaps not anymore. He has sacrificed a lot for the good in recent years.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    I apologize to all for my sour tone. It is a big untertaking and is needful given the large scale sellout of the Orthodox by others. It deserves our support.

  7. M. Stankovich says

    Let’s settle matters one step at a time:

    1) By the power invested in me… [and if you would ask, “By what authority do you do these things? And who gave you this authority to do these things?” (Mk. 11:28) I would respond, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.(Phil. 4:13)] – I grant Archpriest and Dean Alexader FC Webster, Ph. D., the degree, “Doctor of Orthodox Theology,” with all the rights and responsibilities thereof, and the inscription shall read: You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” (Jn. 15:16)

    2. It should be no surprise to anyone [NB: joke ahead ==>] that the gift accompanying this achievement is a lifetime subscription to the MLB Network. “ultimate destination for baseball fans, featuring the multiple Emmy Award-winning MLB Tonight live regular season and Postseason game telecasts, original programming, highlights, and insights and analysis from the best in the business”

    It seems to me that if, in fact, we truly accept that our God believes it is “good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4) we must be acutely aware, sensitive to, and appreciative of the “journey” so many took to arrive with us, beginning with the words of St. Chrysostom: “For forty years, the Jews wandered in the desert. But do not fear, for today your leader is not Moses, but Jesus Christ.” For while Fr. Peter Gillquist, of blessed memory, described the “history” of his and a group of Evangelical Christians’ path to the Orthodox Church (Becoming Orthodox, he describes the journey itself as coming home.

    3. Finally, like a doctor who treats him/herself; a lawyer who defends him/herself; or a Harvard Minister who boasts of his/her “qualification,” they all have fools for patients, clients, and spiritual children. So, allow me to state the obvious to Mr. Downs in two steps:

    1. I strongly suspect you have never read Tolstoy’s Three Hermits. You should, and you should print it, and you should promise yourself to occasionally re-read it so as to never again make this poor assessment and application of illogic.

    2. Before you leave this thread, observe the scrambled egs on the brim of Dean Websters kalimavka… Pardon me. I have misspoken. Those are on his military cover. In any case, “you think he is trustworthy? Sir, he was at the front lines with American troops in Afghanistan, where a diploma from an Orthodox Seminary would have served Dean Webster to fan himself in the desert heat. Leadership in chaos is a gift, and when it is exercised properly – and always with prayer and humility – men and women return safely and bleed is God who delivers them. I strongly suggest that you contact Dean Webster (he is very approachable) and let him familiarize you with his education.
    Somehow, it always escapes the argument that the Synod of Bishops of ROCOR chose him, and blesses him to serve as the Dean of their Seminary. Many Years to him!

    Now, ask his blessing; make one, crisp, snappy salute; one guttural “oorah,” and we’re done here, bro’.

  8. Jackson Downs says

    Actually, I’ve always had a tiny twinge of annoyance when I read that in his bio about Afghanistan. He was a senior reservist during the dual wars, and although he did travel over a few times, it was for holidays on big bases, and never for more than 30 days. Whereas several of my paratrooper brothers and I spent the better part of years out there, with no luxuries of the bigger bases. Anyway, my point still stands, despite your bluster. He doesn’t have a single Orthodox Theological Degree, and I would be willing to guess that no other dean of an Orthodox seminary worldwide can say the same thing – maybe in the last thousand years or more. Although, once again, I don’t think it necessarily makes him a bad teacher, or makes ROCOR authorities incompetent.

    • M. Stankovich says

      You’re bleeding, bro’. All over your hands and lips. You came at this thread with la nuance and nuancer; giving with the right hand, and taking away with the left, seeding “a tiny tinge of annoyance” with banality.

      It should be all the more remarkable to you that such an incompetent poseur – and by extension, those who brought him to this position, and by whose blessing he continues – managed to deliver this wonderful distinction to Holy Trinity Seminary.

      He doesn’t have a “single Orthodox Theological Degree,” – “my point still stands” – but it doesn’t “necessarily makes him a bad teacher.” Then what exactly is your point? As near as I can tell, bro’, it’s “shade” – nuancer – nothing more, nothing less: a “time-limited, holiday-only, suck-up-the-benefits, reservist” who now traded it all in on a position for which he is not qualified. Nuancer. Unfortunately, you are a poor actor, and you provide absolutely nothing objective to support your contention is of any consequence whatsoever.

    • Billy Jack Sunday says

      What’s wrong with being in the reserves?

    • Michael Bauman says

      The fact that Fr. Alexander does not have an Orthodox theological degree only enhances his qualifications as far as I am concerned. If you have problems, take it up with him personally.

      Once I learned a bit more, my attitude changed. You might try it too.

    • Archpriest Alexander Webster says

      Now that Holy Trinity Seminary has completed the 2017-2018 academic year, I can finally address a rather uncharitable and inaccurate charge pertaining to my appointment as Dean last year.

      “Jackson Downs” (if that is, indeed, his real name) claims that no dean of any Orthodox seminary in the United States–and ” no other dean of an Orthodox seminary worldwide . . . in the last thousand years or more “–has lacked an “Orthodox theological degree.” I would point to Fr. Georges Florovsky, arguably the greatest Orthodox theologian in the 20th century and Dean of St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary from 1949 to 1955. He earned degrees in history and philosophy at the University of Odessa in 1916. However, SVOTS’ own website acknowledges the following: “Despite not having earned an academic degree in theology (apart from several honorary degrees he was awarded later), Florovsky would spend the rest of his life teaching at theological institutions.”

      Now may we put that matter to rest and deal with serious issues?

      Fr. Alexander

  9. Billy Jack Sunday says

    I’m a bit torn

    On the one hand, I’m glad to hear Jordanville offer an MDiv for various reasons

    On the other hand, I feel our faith is imbalances with the heavy emphasis of extreme scholasticism

    We talk much about faith as mystery, but I feel we are overwhelmed with analytical processes

    • Michael Bauman says

      BJS, I talked with Fr. Alexander personally. They have a solid plan in my estimation. I was torn too.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says


        Good to hear. Glad you were able to ask him about it

        Just thinking out loud really and I had actually marked it for deletion (but it must have been too late) – as it’s too hard to express what I mean

        I think Fr. Alexander seems very solid and ROCOR seems to be doing a good job of transmitting the traditions of the Orthodox Church

        I think it’s a good thing. I do feel like an MDiv shouldn’t necessarily be expected of every clergyman, but it is indeed looked upon as the LeLu Dallas Multipass of ministry

        I think elsewhere I’ve seen an infection of libby humanism and unhealthy scholasticism modeled after the Jesuits – so I’m hoping the Jordanville seminary will be a hold out against that kind of stuff

        For what it’s worth, I told my son that if he ever wanted to go to seminary, Jordanville seems like the place to go

        I just got one question left

        I don’t have a degree from any seminary, but

        Can I get one of those hats? It’s pretty cool

        Clergymen get all the best hats. I think that is really issue at stake here. It’s totally unfair

        Maybe that can be your next conversation with him

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          BJS, you remind me of George Costanza in this classic episode of “Seinfeld”:

        • Zoe Pellas says

          Catholics argue the Byzantine clergy rejected the Council of Florence because they didn’t want to give up their fancy hats

        • Wayne Matthew Syvinski says

          You don’t need to be clergy to have a fancy hat. Check out Myself, I regularly wear a bowler.

          Quick story:
          (Background: I grew up in North Dakota. Even after living nearly 20 years in Indiana, I haven’t lost the accent.)
          Upon entering the office one day while wearing a bowler, a co-worker said, “You look like a proper English gentleman!”. I replied, “How many Englishmen do you know with a Minnesota accent? “

          • Constantinos says

            I have four bowler hats, two homburgs, two fedoras, many Greek fisherman’s caps, numerous berets, a top hat, and over fifty baseball caps. One thing I never do is wear my bowlers with my many cowboy boots. I wear them with my wingtip brogues. Actually, I don’t wear any hats now. I don’t want to hide my gray hair.

            • Wayne Matthew Syvinski says

              Nothing wrong with wearing a bowler with the cowboy boots. (1) The bowler has a definite working-class origin: it started out as a sort of helmet for coachmen and gameskeepers, not as a business-dress hat (the crown was much more heavily shellacked for those purposes) (2) the most common hat in the American West was the bowler until Stetson’s Boss of the Plains hat eventually overtook it.

              …and for warm weather wear, I prefer a straw boater.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            I always wear a hat. Panama in the good weather, fur-felt fedoras the rest of the year.
            I’m not a bowler guy. I am thinking about a good Homburg, though this would be a radical step for me, and I am not generally given to such saltations.

            • Constantinos says

              I don’t think you can go wrong with a homburg. They have some good deals on Hats Plus. The best two makes are Borsalino and Biltmore. I bought two excellent hats by Christy’s of London. If you look online the average price of a Christy’s bowler is $340 and the top hat is more expensive. I bought both on EBay brand spanking new for $75 each. As Elvis said, ” you gotta shop around.”When I bought my first derby hat it was green from the Village Hat Shop. I went over my father’s house after church and he said, ” I hate your hat and your beard.” The funny thing is I’ve received more compliments on that hat than all my hats combined. I have a funny quirk. When someone compliments my hat, I never wear again.

              • Bishop Anaxios says

                I must preface this first by saying that I am a bit overweight and very often clean shaven

                Once in the early 90’s, I had a severe sun burn and was mistaken for Queen Latifa

                • Billy Jack Sunday says

                  I always think:

                  Rollin’ with Kid ‘n Play

                  Now everybody sing –

                  OH LA OH LA AYE

  10. Zoe Pellas says

    Old calendar czar freaks of ROCOR were spawned by triple agent soviet provocateur “Prince” Turkul (Unholy Trinity 1998 p.152) to make them look foolish. If they really wanted “old” calendar they should have used to Hebrew lunar Jesus used not the one his Roman slaughterers did. Czars were just as communist as Stalin as they had free health care and education. and were intolerant of land ownership on grounds the grand obschina was their mother Mokosh. Cardinal sins and toll houses are Persian Ishtar astrology also found the pseudepigraphas of Reuben and the twelve patriarchs. They are no different than purgatory or reincarnation. They are dharmic syncretism just like hyperventilating hallucination hesticlasim. Uspensky and Kapustin went to buy up Jerusalem properties now under ROCOR to prevent Moses Montefiore (the Jewish Tositsas) doing so on behalf of the British. Nesselrode sent Uspensky to deHellenize the Antiochians (and almost Jerusalem) eventually causing Michel Aflaq to found the Assad-Saddam Ba’ath party. Nazi Balkan butcher Alois Bruner (responsible for the death of half a million Greeks) died as a houseguest of the Assads.