posted April 5, 2010

Events Explore Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition

The faith and practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church will be the focus of the 2nd Annual Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy Conference at Hope College on Monday and Tuesday, April 12-13.

The conference, titled, "Let God Arise (and let his enemies be scattered): The Resurrection of Christ in Orthodox Christian Theology and Worship," will consider the ubiquity of the Resurrection of Christ in Orthodox Christian worship and implications for human vocation.  The event is hosted by college's Orthodox Christian Fellowship student organization in partnership with West Michigan Orthodox Christian parishes and the Religious Life Committee at Hope College.

Four keynote addresses and one panel discussion intermingled with worship services in the Orthodox Christian tradition will comprise the event. The worship/prayer services will represent the Orthodox Christian tradition, and all are welcome to attend.

Although the Encountering Eastern Orthodoxy Conference has been planned for the campus community, the public is invited and welcome.  Admission is free to all events, although a free-will offering to benefit Orthodox Christian Fellowship at Hope College will be taken at the lectures on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.

The opening keynote, "The Passion and Resurrection of Christ in Orthodox Faith and Worship," will be presented by the Reverend Deacon Nicholas Belcher on Monday, April 12, at 4 p.m. in the MaasCenter auditorium.

Belcher is dean of students at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.  He received his B.A. in history and B.S. in education from The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina, in 1997, and his M.Div. from Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in 2005. He is former assistant director of the Office of Vocation & Ministry at Hellenic College, a role which had the direction of the college's CrossRoad Program as it is principal charge. He serves at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in West Roxbury, Mass. where he was ordained to the Holy Diaconate by His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP in April of 2007.

Vespers will follow in the Maas Center auditorium on Monday, April 12, at 5:30 p.m.  In the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, the Vespers service begins the liturgical day at sunset and introduces its themes. Vespers is penitential in tone, anticipating the celebration of the resurrection of Christ in following services. Beginning with the reading of a Psalm and including many prayers and hymns set for the day, this is the service which contains one of the most ancient hymns of the Church - "O Gladsome Light."

Belcher will deliver his second keynote address, titled "The Pascha of Christ and Our Vocation: Orthodox Christian Reflections," on Monday, April 12, at 8 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The second keynote will be immediately followed by the Small Compline on Monday, April 12, at 9:30 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.  The Service of Small Compline is a shorter prayer service comprised of the reading of 3 Psalms, the Doxology, the Nicene Creed and several prayers. It is read just before the faithful depart to sleep.

On Tuesday, April 13, events will begin at 8 a.m. with the Matins/Orthros service in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall. The Orthros or Matins service is served early in the morning. It is comprised of the Trisagion prayers, The Royal Troparia, the reading of six psalms, "God is the Lord and has revealed Himself to us...", "Blessed are You O Lord; Teach me Your statutes", the Gospel reading, Psalm 50, The Magnificat, and various texts appointed for that day. Though it can be read by itself, the Orthros/Matins service commonly precedes the Divine Liturgy - the service in which the holy mystery of the Eucharist is celebrated.

The third address, titled "Monasticism: Practicing the Resurrection," will be given on Tuesday, April 13, at 11 a.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall by Mother Gabriella, Abbess of Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction.

A "Tea and Conversation" discussion focused on personal stories of living the Orthodox Faith today in America, with time for questions and answers, will take place on Tuesday, April 13, at 1:30 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

The panelists will include His Grace Bishop Mark, Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest; Dcn. Nicholas Belcher, dean of students, Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass.; Mother Abbess Gabriella, Abbess of the Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction; Fr. Mark Sietsema, Priest of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, Lansing; Fr. John Konkle, Priest of the Dormition of the Mother of God Orthodox Monastery in Rives Junction; Khourieh Elfriede Daly, president of Antiochian Women at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Grand Rapids;  Dr. Jeffrey Tyler, associate professor of religion and lecturer in the history of Christianity at Hope; and Joanne Gabl, a Hope senior from Saline who has served as president of Hope's chapter of Orthodox Christian Fellowship for two years. The panel will be moderated by Christina T. Stavros, M.Div., a 2001 Hope graduate who is the advisor for OCF at Hope College and Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Orthodox Christian books, icons, and other devotional items will be available for purchase at all the events. These items will be supplied by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, Grand Rapids.

All conference events will be recorded by Ancient Faith Radio ( www.ancientfaith.com).

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., on Columbia Avenue at 11th Street.  Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th Streets.