The English Club of the Institute of Theology and Philosophy
The English club is a part of the student society of the Institute of Theology and Philosophy (RCHA). The aim of this club is to unite people who speak English and would like to improve their language skills in the field of theology.
At our meetings we:
- discuss the traditions and the current state of Christianity in the West;
- learn more about Western Orthodox and non-Orthodox theologians and make theological debates on various issues of the Orthodox Church;
- do Bible studies (we read, translate and discuss short passages from the Gospel);
- watch different English movies or broadcasts and talk about them;
- make friendly discussions over a cup of tea on different subjects;
- play games, listen to music, invite interesting people, etc.
Structure and basic concepts of the club are the same as of the student society.
The leaders of the society are Ilia Iliukovich and Timofey Chernov.
The required level of English – upper-intermediate/advanced.
Unfortunately, there won’t be any meetings this term.
All events of the club are free and open to everyone! If you are going to come, please bring some snacks, biscuits or sweets for tea.
The English club of the Institute of Theology and Philosophy together with the English Club of St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral and St. Felix English Courses created a joint group Vk — the Orthodox English Union of St. Petersburg
The digest of our meetings for the 2015-2016 year of studies
On the 21 of May we had the live broadcast of the lecture from the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge: Irina Kirillova on Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. The lecture broadcast was followed by a free discussion.
Ms Kirillova is a former Lecturer in Russian Studies, the Department of Slavonic Studies at the University of Cambridge. It was certainly a great privilege to hear Ms Kirillova talk about Metropolitan Anthony whom she knew personally, not only as her Bishop but also as a friend.
On the 16 April we were invited to the English class of the Artium center. We read and discussed few passages from the Gospel with a help of blessed Theophylact of Bulgaria.
On the 19 of March we had the live broadcast of the lecture from the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge: Dr Krastu Banev, a lecturer at Durham University, on Saint Maria of Paris (Skobtsova). The lecture broadcast was followed by a free discussion.
On the 20 of February we had the first live broadcast of the lecture from the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Cambridge: Revd Dr Seraphim Aldea on Father Sophrony Sakharov. The lecture was a part of the annual series of Community Lecture Days of the insitute entitled ‘CONTEMPORARY FATHERS AND MOTHERS OF THE CHURCH: GUIDES FOR TODAY’S WORLD’. The lecture broadcast was followed by a free discussion. This meeting was described in an article written in «Вода живая».
On the 15 of January we had a great Christmas meeting. We listened to beautiful Christmants carols sung by the choir of King’s college, Cambridge, and talked about the meaning of Christmas.
The questions we discussed:
- Advent – Christmas – Epiphany. What does this part of the Church calendar mean for you? How do you usually spend Christmas?
- Western tradition vs. Russian. Secular ‘commercialized’ Christmas vs. New Year celebration. What is better in your opinion? Should we celebrate Christmas together with all Christians on the 25th of December?
- Christmas and the Easter are two the most important feasts in the Church. How do these feasts relate to one another? What is their theological meaning?
On the 15 of December our society went to the meeting of St. Felix English club at the church of St. Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow.
On the 29-31 of October our city was visited by John Behr, an American Orthodox theologian and Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary. Some our members attended his lectures which he gave in the Academy and Feodorovsky cathedral.
On the 16th of October our American friend Tom told us about the activity of the international centre Wycliffe that translates Bible to native languages all over the world and has a great plan to see Bible translation in progress, in every language that needs it, by the year 2025.
On the 9th of October we discussed the theology of bishop Kallistos Ware and his understanding of the Tradition of the Orthodox Church in its presence in modern Western culture. We’ve read his interview and unswered the following questions:
- How Kallistos understands the Tradition of the Orthodox Church in its presence in modern secular culture? What can the Orthodoxy “sell” to the Western world?
- What is the main thing in Orthodoxy? How it differs from other Christian denominations according to bishop Kallistos’ insight?
- What things in Orthodoxy are found strange or unusual for the Protestant interviewer? What things he likes or dislikes?
- Bishop Kallistos to a large extent speaks about the difference between the East and the West in tradition/rites/liturgy. Is it only a cultural difference?
- Can the Orthodox Church in your opinion work together with other confessions in the West/ in Russia?
On the 26 of September we had the first meeting of the club for the new term. We got acquainted with the newcomers and talked about one sermon of anglican theologian and bishop Rowan Williams “Hearts of flesh“ dedicated to the verse from Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh”.
We discussed several questions:
- “To be a friend of God is to learn to be a friend of my own frailty”. Do you agree with that? Is it so important for a human being to realize their own weakness?
- The apostle Paul’s understanding of flesh differs from Ezekiel approach. Is flesh “a source of deception, downward drag” or something more than that?
- What the mystery of the incarnation of Christ tells us about our own body?
The digest of our meetings for the 2014-2015 year of studies
On the 24th of May at 4.10 pm our club went to watch Set Fire to the Stars (2014) at Rodina. The movie was in English with subtitles. Then we discussed the movie over a cup of coffee.
On the 8th of May our society was visited by two important guests: father Nikolay Savchenko, a historian and the former member of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, and sister Seraphima (Dr. Julia Konstantinovsky), a research fellow at Christ Church College and a tutor in Theology for the Theology Faculty, University of Oxford. The guests told us about the life of the Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom and
answered our questions.
On the 24th of April we had a fascinating discussion on the Taizé Community in France.
(The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of more than one hundred brothers, from Protestant and Catholic traditions, who originate from about thirty countries across the world. It was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger Schütz, a Reformed Protestant, and became famous for its enormous work with youth. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make
pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, andcommunal work).
The speaker of this meeting was Vladimir Sedov, who had lived in different Catholic communities in France and shared with us his experience. Our meeting was joined by members of St. Felix English courses.
On the 18th April we were invited to the class of the English club of St. Nicolas Naval Cathedral. After the class we had a unique opportunity to participate in a tour of the cathedral lead by Fr. Konstantin.
The 27th of March meeting was about life of the Anglican parishes. We studied several texts, written by pastoral leaders of local communities, and discussed problems described there.
On the 14th of March we had a film day dedicated to British religious comedies. We watched two sitcom episodes and discussed them:
— One episode was from Rev. The Reverend Adam Smallbone is an Anglican priest who has recently moved from a small rural parish to the «socially disunited» St Saviour in the Marshes in Hackney, East London. Unable to turn anyone away from his pastoral care, Smallbone is faced with a collection of moral challenges as he balances the needs of genuine believers, people on the streets, and drug addicts, as well as the demands of social climbers using the church to get their children into the best schools.
— Another from Father Ted. The show follows the misadventures of three Roman Catholic priests who live in a parish on the fictional Craggy Island, located off the west coast of Ireland. Father Ted Crilly, Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett live chaotically together in Craggy Island’s parochial house, along with their housekeeper Mrs Doyle, who always wants to serve them tea.
27th February class was about the tradition of the Great Lent in different Christian confessions. The discussion was twofold:
1. We’ve done our first Bible study and discussed the passage from the Gospel read on the last Sunday before Lent (Mattew 6:14-21).
2. We focused on the meaning of Lent and compared the tradition of fasting in the Orthodox Church with practices of western Christianity.
Tim Chernov shared with us his impression on the book of Fr A. Schmemann Great Lent.
14th February was the first introductory meeting of the club. It was dedicated to the tradition of student clubs in England and the features of theological education in Cambridge.
We were glad that our first meeting went well and we had very fruitful and interesting discussion over the theme that is rather provocative and unusual. All the participants demonstrated deep theological insight, as well as the ability to express their opinion on complex matters in good English.