Trinity College

Be My Witnesses: Orthodox Missions and Evangelism

Course Code: 
Last Offered: 
Fall 2020
Next Offered: 
Summer 2023

“All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And behold, I shall be with you even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

Too many Orthodox Christians don’t understand the importance and central role of missions and evangelism in our church. The “spirit of missions” is central in our ecclesiology and Orthodox worldview and identity. The need for Christians and churches to continue the work of Christ, welcoming and reaching out to those outside our Christian faith is paramount. We need churches which instill in its members the spirit to raise up, train and send out missionaries and witnesses locally, nationally and globally.

This course delves into the central spirit of missions and evangelism in the church, examining the biblical, theological, liturgical, and historical perspective of Orthodox missiology – including through the lives, ministries and methods of the greatest Orthodox missionaries, such as the Apostle Paul and the early Christians, Sts Cyril and Methodius, St Cosmas of Aitolia, St Innocent Veniaminov of Alaska, St Nicholas Kasatkin of Japan, along with exemplar contemporary missionaries like Archbishop Anastasios of Albania – emphasising how missions should be an essential element of the Orthodox Church’s identity. We will focus on the various theological bases for an Orthodox understanding of mission.

Course participants will become familiar with the works and thought of the major contemporary Orthodox theologians of mission, and be introduced to the latest concepts and debates in missiological circles, focusing particularly on today’s challenges in North American culture. Ultimately, participants should be well prepared to reflect theologically on the central question of “inculturating” or “incarnating” the Gospel in new missionary contexts. How should the Orthodox Church carry on this spirit of evangelism in its present reality in North America?