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On Friday, July 29, 2022, the training program (“Summer School”) for clergy and lay theologians of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine was completed. This summer school, which took place for the third time around, is organized by the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, in collaboration with the Volyn Theological Academy (Ukraine); it was organized initially in July 2019, with physical presence in Volos, with a concluding visit at the Theological School of Chalki and at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. This year, the program lasted from July 25 to July 29 and was implemented online, due to the difficulties imposed by the Russian invasion in Ukraine. It was attended by twenty-three theologians and clergymen, graduates of the Theological Academies of Kiev and Volyn, as well as of State Universities of Ukraine, while the educational material covered a wide range of theological, canonical, pastoral, and sociological issues.

The flowing scholars delivered lectures as a part of the program: Dr. Pantelis Kalaitzidis (Director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Executive Committee European Academy of Religion: “The emergence of a new theological agenda in Orthodoxy against the background of the war in Ukraine”), Rev. Dr. Dimitrios Bathrellos (Visiting Professor, Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge; Member of the Board of Directors of Volos Academy: a. “Christology in the 21st century” and b. “The Witness of the Church Fathers in our times”), Rev. Dr. Vassilios Thermos (Associate Professor, Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Athens, Psychiatrist of children and adults, priest of the Church of Greece: a. “Dynamics of Psychological Trauma” and b. “Moral Injury and Forgiveness”), Prof. Gayle Woloschak (Departments of Radiation Oncology, Radiology, and Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University; St Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary, Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, Ecumenical Patriarchate: “Orthodoxy and Science”), Rev. Dr. Cyril Hovorun (Sankt Ignatios Orthodox Academy, University College Stockholm: “Religious freedom in Ukraine and Russia”), Dr. Nikolaos Asproulis (Deputy director, Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Lecturer, Hellenic Open University: Eco-Dogmatics: An Introduction), Prof. Dimitrios Moschos (University of Athens; Member of the Board of Directors of Volos Academy: a. “Introduction to the history of the Church in a Christian Orthodox theological program” and b. “The emergence of ‘Byzantine Christianity’ in the East and the estrangement with the West (7th – 14th c.)”), Assoc. Prof. Aikaterini Tsalambouni (University of Thessaloniki; Member of the Board of Directors of Volos Academy: “War in the Νew Testament”), Metropolitan Job of Pisidia (Dean of the Institut d'études supérieures en théologie orthodoxe, Chambésy, Ecumenical Patriarchate: “Liturgical Renewal in a secularized society”), Mr. Georgios Vlantis (MTh, Director of the Council of Christian Churches (ACK) in Bavaria; Research Associate, Volos Academy: a. “New Challenges for the Ecumenical Movement in the Light of the 11th WCC Assembly” and b. “Ukrainian Orthodoxy and Ecumenism: Theology, History and Current Challenges”), and Dr. Sr. Vassa Larin (Host of the Online Catechetical Programs ‘Coffee with Sister Vassa’: “The Role of Women in the Orthodox Church”).

In his greeting speech at the beginning of the program, His Eminence Ignatius, Metropolitan of Demetrias, highlighted the need to support the newly established Autocephalous Church of Ukraine, which, in addition to many other problems, faces the plight of the Russian invasion in Ukraine as well as the Russian religious imperialism. He also mentioned that Volos Academy for Theological Studies supported theologically the new Church from its very beginning.

With the completion of the courses, all sides unanimously expressed their will to keep this important educational and training initiative alive, and if possible in physical presence, which allows a closer human contact and an acquaintance with the reality of everyday church life and with the various elements of ecclesiastical culture. Quoting the words of the head of the Ukrainian team, Fr. Volodymyr Vakin, “the fact that we acquire theoretical knowledge, but even more that we feel the love, concern, and care of His Eminence Ignatius, Metropolitan of Demetrias, of the Director, of the tutors and of all the members of the staff of Volos Academy, it is the most important testimony of our unity in Christ.”

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