Mission of St. Herman Seminary
St. Herman Orthodox Theological Seminary is a school of theology of the Orthodox Church in America permanently located within the Diocese of Sitka and Alaska, under the canonical jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church in America. Its primary purpose is to provide adequate education for clergy candidates, lay church leaders, and educators in the Diocese. The program emphasizes particularly Orthodox theology, general education on the undergraduate level, and those particular skills (e.g., music, reading, etc.) that are necessary for Church work in the Diocese of Alaska.
The seminary fulfills its most basic purpose, remaining true to its historic missionary heritage. In particular, the seminary seeks to continue the heroic educational and evangelistic work begun by Ss. Herman, Innocent, Yakov, and the host of dedicated clergy and laity who struggled to increase the presence of Holy Orthodoxy in Alaska.
The primary objective of the seminary remains the education and, as God wills, the ordination of spiritually mature Orthodox Christian men to the Holy Diaconate and Priesthood. The seminary also provides the necessary theological, liturgical, and moral foundations nurturing various vocations. The Church in Alaska seeks to retain a full complement of indigenous clergy and laity to fulfill Her purpose. Therefore, the seminary curriculum is arranged to prepare readers, catechists, religious educators, and counselors, as well as deacons and priests.
These objectives are met through 2-year and 4-year diploma programs in which a theological education is provided in residence. Graduates will be equipped to enhance the quality of spiritual, moral, educational, and social values in their communities.
Objectives specific to St. Herman Seminary are outlined as follows:
- To prepare worthy candidates for the Holy Priesthood and Diaconate within the Orthodox Christian Church.
- To train students to assume responsibilities of a Church Reader, who can lead services in the absence of clergy.
- To prepare worthy candidates for positions of leadership and as religious educators in their worship communities.
- To prepare substance abuse counselors for service to their communities.
Preparation for service to the Church, as clergy or laity, requires students to live as Orthodox Christians. The Church affirms mankind’s creation by God and therefore the fullness of humanity is achieved through communion with God. Knowledge of God is revealed in prayerful study of the Faith and a life of active virtue. Students must demonstrate godly attributes: love, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. Seminary life provides ample opportunity to develop these virtues, so that the vision and values of Orthodox Christianity are not only the subject matter of coursework, but increasingly a way of life. The seminary trains its students in this practical theology.
St. Herman Seminary is committed to an understanding of theological education, which includes all aspects of the person. The person, according to the Orthodox Christian Faith, possesses infinite value, being created in the image and likeness of God. Worship is at the very heart of an Orthodox Christian’s being and life, especially those called to teach and preach. Active participation in daily worship is integral to the Orthodox Christian worldview. True education is fulfilled in worship. Worship is indeed instructive. Students should not only understand but delight in the liturgical life of the Church. Students preparing for service to the Church are held to the same ecclesiastical regulations, moral standards, and models of behavior as are expected of those ordained in the Church.
As a missionary institution of the Diocese of Alaska, the seminary is intensely interested and committed to enhancing and strengthening Native Alaskan languages and cultures, particularly as these have merged with the expression and propagation of Holy Orthodoxy. The seminary fulfills the commission of the Church to be incarnational, bearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. The Seminary faculty encourages research projects and programs in the field of Alaskan Native culture embracing the Church.
The seminary is committed to combating the various social problems that plague society, and Alaskan communities in particular. Valuing personhood as a unity of soul and body, the Church is concerned with the health and eternal salvation of the whole person. Courses in counseling disciplines, together with discussion, lectures, and seminars relating to public health and social policy, constitute another element of the seminary curriculum.
Not only does the seminary provide an education in preparation for ministry, it also nurtures the students’ entire families in residence. While students receive their education, their families must be supported. By fostering the families’ wellness and wholeness, the Seminary improves the quality of student life and of the students’ future ministry. The seminary is aware of the place family holds. Familial themes pervade the letters of St. Paul; Christians are bound together as members of one Body. The seminary strives to fulfill this calling.