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8.6.09

In Anticipation of Board, Alumni Meeting Today,  +Tikhon Denies STS is Closing/Merging

• “Not now or anytime in the future” says Bishop
• “ 2008 finances ended on “positive note”
• “Conversation” with SVS to continue

In a video posted on the St. Tikhon’s Seminary website, just days before the Seminary’s Board and Alumni meeting today, the Rector of the school, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia affirmed “... that St Tikhon’s Seminary is not closing nor is it merging with any other school.” The Bishop stated that regular audits of the school have been posted for the past five years, and that the Seminary ended its most recent fiscal year on “a very positive note.” The Bishop concluded his video remarks, a transcript of which is posted as well, with a statement on the importance of theological education, and that the current dialogue between St. Tikhon’s and St. Vladimir’s Seminary in New York would continue with the blessing of the Synod of Bishops.

+Tikhon writes:

The Holy Synod has especially encouraged St Tikhon’s and St Vladimir’s Seminaries to enter into closer cooperation. It is no secret that from the time both institutions were founded in 1938, there have been distinctions between the schools. Historically, these distinctions may have taken the form of rivalry, or of theological differences, or simply independence of operation. Regardless of what may have taken place in the past, the important thing is to move forward today and truly establish an open and honest dialogue about our common path to the Truth of Christ, our common vision of theological education.

Let us lay aside any preconceived notions of the outcome of our conversation, but let us enter into it with brotherly love and humility, asking God to bless our Christian fellowship and strengthen our cooperation with one another..”

(You can view, or read, the Bishop’s full statement here.)

The Bishop’s video and statement may be seen in the context of widespread dismay among supporters and alumni of St. Tikhon’s at recent statements made by the Metropolitan, and others, suggesting a possible closing or merger of the South Canaan school. A July 15th letter to the Metropolitan and STS Board by Trustee Michael Herzak of Cleveland illustrates the passionate nature of the issue. In his letter Herzak warns:

“... St. Tikhon’s board has not been consulted in any way about this event which leaves many questions unanswered. We as trustees have a fiduciary responsibility and a clear legal duty of loyalty to St. Tikhon’s. We cannot let this attempt go unanswered. I do not see how you can legally take steps to merge, close or alter St. Tikhon’s without board approval and buy in. Usurping the board is a very bad idea and that appears to be what has happened. I believe the board would have a fiduciary responsibility to take whatever legal means necessary to put a stop to this event should it continue to move forward. By that I mean we would be fiduciarily bound to ask the courts to intervene to stop this. I don’t pose this as a threat, by any means, but as a way of indicating the level of responsibility I strongly believe we have as trustees. I spent 20+ years on the board of a secular university, 11 as its board chair and I understand the duty and obligations we have as trustees. I was in merger discussions with other colleges at that time. There is much to discuss such as housing, financial considerations for students and a myriad of other issues to numerous to mention here.”

Herzak concludes:

"Your Beatitude, I unquestionably and unmistakably recall your message to our board when you attended your first board meeting at St. Tikhon’s (I took notes and which I have kept) in which you talked about your “vision for theological education in America.” I came away impressed with your thoughts about “needing one single vision uniting all institutions.” I did not think you meant there would be only one institution. I remember your call for student interaction between seminaries, a committee of faculty of the two seminaries on how to work together for unity of vision. All of that is wonderful and a dream for us all to visualize and, indeed, realize. I completely agree with the concept of closer ties between the two major seminaries and St. Herman’s as well. I didn’t think you meant ties so close that there would be only one seminary. You stated, “My approach will be very aggressive.” I did not think you meant it would be unilateral.“

Such letters, calls and personal remonstrances from St. Tikhon’s supporters and alumni have led the Synod to recently issue a statement (read it here), St. Vladimir’s to issue a statement on its website (read it here), and now the Bishop’s video disclaimer - and still the issue smolders. It remains to be seen how the Metropolitan, who is not attending today’s meeting due to a prior committment in Alaska, can begin restoring calm to the campus in the Poconos.

- Mark Stokoe

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(Update: The Board meeting, which began at 1 PM EDST, was still in progress at 4 PM: with Alumni, who were scheduled for a meeting early in the afternoon, still waiting outside....)

 


 

 
 

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