I am a parish priest of the Orthodox Church in America and DMin candidate at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.
To fulfil the research requirement for the DMin, I am conducting a study entitled The Servant Parish Project, concerned with strengthening our commitment as Orthodox Christians to compassionate ministry to the poor and suffering.
My project contributes to the literature of encouragement. Jesus for certain said, “Come and see!” But He also said, “Go and do likewise!” At the heart of the Servant Parish Project is the conviction that our faith in Jesus Christ does not just flower into right worship (doxologia), it also flowers into loving service (diakonia).
In 1965 Father Alexander Schmemann wrote about the need to replace the false ideal of “serving the parish” with the concept of “the parish as servant.” The two key research questions guiding my study grow from Father Alexander’s diagnosis:
- How should Orthodox Christians think about the commandment found throughout Holy Scripture to honor “justice” (Isaiah 1:17, Amos 5:24, Micah 6:8, Luke 18:1-8)?
- What strategies can Orthodox parishes pursue to create “servant parishes” actively engaged in ministry to the poor and suffering in particular?
In the Servant Parish Project I am hoping to learn from you. As an adult Orthodox Christian or catechumen, what are your attitudes toward serving those in need? What are your experiences? What has influenced your views about compassionate ministry in the local community?
Clergy and faithful of all Orthodox jurisdictions are invited to participate in this research project. How? By completing a survey at the Servant Parish Project website.
The survey takes approximately 20 minutes and can be completed anonymously. The direct link to the survey is here, while elsewhere on the Project website you will find drafts of the early chapters, including an introduction that describes the scope of my research. You will also find information about me and the beautiful parish that I am blessed to serve by God’s grace.
You may contact me at email@example.com if you have questions.
Father Theophan Whitfield holds a BA in Philosophy from Princeton University, an MA and MPhil in Philosophy from Columbia University, and an MDiv from St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. He serves as rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Salem MA, and enjoys exploring the North Shore of Boston with his wife Matushka Manna and their three daughters.
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