To kick off the celebration on Friday, October 11, a dinner was hosted by St. Vladimir's for members of both faculties. Following, a public Vespers service took place at Three Hierarchs Chapel according to the Armenian rite. St. Vladimir's/St. Nersess alumnus Bishop Daniel Findikyan, Primate of the of the Eastern Diocese and President of the St. Nersess Board of Directors, delivered the annual Father John Meyendorff Memorial Lecture titled, "The Sacrament of Theological Education: St. Vladimir's and St. Nersess Seminaries at 50 Years."
"I should like to propose that the fifty-year collaboration of St. Vladimir's and St. Nersess Seminaries illustrates the sacred, ecclesial, and truly sacramental essence of the theological enterprise understood in its broadest, most Orthodox sense," said His Grace. "And if that is true, then our half-century of common work in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ has great implications for us in this room, for Orthodoxy, for the Body of Christ, and, I think, for the world." Listen here to Bishop Daniel's lecture.
The evening was attended by St. Nersess Dean the Rev. Fr. Mardiros Chevian, SVOTS President Very Rev. Chad Hatfield, SVOTS Academic Dean Dr. Ionut-Alexandru Tudorie, and faculty, staff, seminarians, alumni, and friends from both institutions.
"We remain as committed as any two institutions in the entire Orthodox world to seeing this breach between the so-called 'Oriental' and the so-called 'Eastern' ended," added Fr. Chad. "And this seminary is recommitting itself to building a fire once again under that particular topic, because the truth of the matter is we are living in a time in which we cannot tolerate our unhappy divisions."
The celebration continued at St. Nersess Seminary the following day, with a special cultural event for the alumni of both institutions which included a tour of the campus, lunch consisting of various Armenian foods and imported Armenian wine donated by board member Mr. Oscar Tatosian. Five wood-carved crosses from Armenia were awarded to guests from St. Vladimir's Seminary. The event concluded with a AGBU Antranig Dance Ensemble performance of three dances.
A formal relationship between SVOTS and St. Nersess began in 1968, when negotiations with SVOTS resulted in St. Nersess becoming a satellite institution. Over the coming decades, the two seminaries formalized (and later revised) a joint Master of Divinity (M.Div.) curriculum. In 2004, the partnership resulted in the launch of the Treasures of the Armenian Christian Tradition (AVANT) series St. Vladimir's Seminary (SVS) Press. In 2016, the schools once again renewed their commitment to work together, this time via an Inter-Seminary Agreement of Collaboration signed along with Gevorgyan Seminary in Etchmiadzin. At present, seminarians studying at St. Nersess take approximately forty percent of their course load at St. Vladimir's.
Click here for photos.