‘In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity’
(attributed to Blessed Augustine of Hippo).
St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute aspires to advance the frontiers of Orthodoxy through higher education by creating a premier center for the integration of Orthodox spiritual life, distance learning, and research.
In pursuit of that vision, St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute provides quality distance learning in Orthodox higher education at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels. In this way, the Institute advances apostolic diakonia and outreach to those searching for the Truth of the Gospel by creating an environment that fosters and sustains growth in knowledge, faith, repentance, spiritual experience, the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, abundant life, and orthopraxis, and culminating in the preparation of graduates for service and leadership roles in the Orthodox Church. The dynamic goal-orientation is the transformation of the lives of individual men and women and in turn, the transformation of the world.
St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute’s core values include:
Fidelity to the Holy Scripture and the Holy Tradition
Freedom of Enquiry, Thought, and Expression
Academic Excellence and Instructor-Student Accountability
Open Access and Flexibility in Delivery
These are manifested in (a) the emphasis on the careful examination, investigation, and application of the Holy Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers; and the unwavering conviction of the enduring inter-relationship between personal piety and character and teaching, scholarship, and research; (b) the encouragement of authentic and honest enquiry and research (individual and/or in group); (c) quality and depth of the provision across all subjects, which in turn promotes education that enhances the ability of students to learn throughout life; (d) the implementation of admission processes and learning programs that provide study tracks and/or certificate and degree pathways that fit the adult learner’s individual schedule and learning style, and moreover, in which residence is not the central component.
St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute is an international, multiethnic, and multicultural Orthodox community that operates under the authority of the Holy Scriptures and Tradition. In all of its activities, the Institute strives for excellence in the service of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, seeking to achieve its mission-beyond-the mission under the power, direction, and operation of the Holy Spirit, through the metaphysical rudder reflected in the spiritual guidance of the established and canonical hierarchy, to the glory of God the Father.
St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute envisions the educational ministry as part of a larger mission — common to all Orthodox Christians — to serve our Lord Jesus Christ as obedient disciples. Christian education, then, at St. Gregory’s, has a proximate and ultimate purpose.
The proximate, (or, immediate purpose), is the academic preparation, professional and vocational training, and spiritual and theological formation of men and women for service and ministry in the Orthodox Church and the world. The ultimate, (or, global), purpose, (in response to the Lord’s call to obedient discipleship), is the transformation of society through the preaching of the Gospel, the salvation of souls, and the extension of Christ’s Kingdom by virtue of the pursuit of orthopraxis and attainment of an Orthodox Christian phronema, which is made possible through Orthodox spiritual formation and Orthodox higher education, learning, and research at the utmost levels of excellence.
The proximate purpose is the specific educational mission; the ultimate (or global) purpose is the ‘mission-beyond-the-mission’; it is the vision that shapes St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute’s plans and guides its priorities. The Institute is then committed, not only to its primary educational mission, but to the commitment of a full expression of Orthodox Christian discipleship which claims the world for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
This broader duty and dynamic goal-orientation is clear:
We must face the tough questions put by the Scriptures, the Tradition, the Churches, and the contemporary world.
We must take the risks necessary to break fresh ground in ministry and broach new ideas in scholarship.
We must brave the dangers of our mistakes and the criticisms of those who may misunderstand.
We must put our Orthodox Christian convictions into practice, even when the price is high.
The components of this ‘mission-beyond-the-mission’ are not options at St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute. They are abiding imperatives, grounded in the Divine command and reinforced by the pressing needs of our times.
Simply stated, the imperatives to which St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute responds are these:
Go and make disciples.
Build-up the Body of Christ, i.e., the Orthodox Church.
Work for the biopsychosocial-spiritual and cultural advancement of human society.
This is an agenda, not a plan of implementation. How St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute effects each mandate is yet to be determined. That is the next step. But we cannot even begin to discover the ‘how’ until we commit ourselves to the ‘what’ and the ‘why’.
The items in this agenda are representative, not exhaustive. But they touch the major subjects of Orthodox Christian concern. Furthermore, they help us to (a) define our identity, (b) guide our activities, (c) inform our educational mission, and (d) shape our prayers.
In short, these imperatives are the ‘handbook to discipleship’ at St. Gregory Nazianzen Orthodox Institute that urge us to greater service and show us how Christ’s Lordship governs our ministry.