Theology and Spirituality of the Church Fathers.
Leaders from nineteen congregations in Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Belarus and Austria attended the fourth August Seminar sponsored by the Christian Resources Center (formerly ITCM, Institute of Theology and Christian Ministry) in St. Petersburg from 7 to 10 August 2014.
The theme of this year's seminar was the "Theology and Spirituality of the Church Fathers". We in the Russian speaking church saw the need for someone who would help us to separate the wheat from the chaff, so we invited Daniel Napier, a professor of the Austin Graduate School of Theology, an expert in Patristics, speak to us. He managed to instill in us a taste for the study of Church Fathers works by reviewing some of their works, analyzing the origin of very important church doctrines, by addressing the emergence of ascetic practices and monastic movement etc. And, what’s very important, we could realize a strong connection between Patristics and our modern life and ministry.
The Seminar actually took the form of workshop with the teacher lecturing, and also facilitating discussions of various topics, such as certain works of the Fathers of the Church which the participants were assigned to read in advance. There were many good questions and answers. The workshop provided us the necessary initial knowledge for our further study of Patristics.
"Seminarians" noted the relevance of the chosen topic. In our churches we, unfortunately, pay very little attention to the life and works of the Church Fathers. As one of our participants stated: “When we consider the cultural context in which Russian speaking congregations evolve we realize that we need to do a better job in studying Patristics. For in countries like ours there is a great initial respect to Church Fathers. Preaching Christ to our community, we need to keep that in mind and know what they wrote. Needless to say, that what Church Fathers wrote is very relevant and helpful today”.
The following cities were represented: Vienna, Austria; St Petersburg, Moscow, Gatchina, Omsk, Rostov-on-Don, Volgograd, Barnaul, Ukhta, Voronezh, Vyatskie Polyany, Russia; Donetsk, Ukraine; Minsk, Belarus, and Tallinn, Estonia. Details of the August 2015 Seminar will be announced in time for participants to be prepared for serious study.