On October 27-28, 2023, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) student Mihailo Vlajkovic (M.A. ‘24) represented the Seminary at a conference hosted by the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University. The two-day conference, titled “The Apostolic Ministry”: History, Theology, and Ecumenism, offered an exploration of “the ways in which churches claim ‘apostolicity,’ and what this ideal means for broader questions of ecumenism and inter-communion.” Eighteen presenters from the US, Canada, and Kenya joined the conference, representing a range of professions and viewpoints, including “theologians, historians, ordained ministers, canon lawyers, ecclesiologists, ecumenists, and students and seminarians.”
Mihailo learned about this conference last semester when the invitation to participate was received by SVOTS faculty. He decided to apply for a presenter slot as the topic aligned with his research interests and received a formal invitation in mid-summer.
During the conference, Mihailo gave his presentation on the topic “Examining the Council of All Orthodox Bishops in America: A Canonical Precedent or Reflection of Ancient Ecumenical Councils.”
Mihailo summarized his talk in an abstract featured in the conference program:
The Orthodox Church’s canonical tradition acknowledges the crucial role of the Assembly in collectively addressing community challenges. This research assesses how the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America continues the tradition established in the early centuries. It is unique as it brings together local churches operating within the same territory. Notably, some churches function as dioceses of jurisdictions with headquarters outside America. While the dialogue among these churches is rooted in shared faith, it often extends beyond administrative concerns to discussions on establishing Church boundaries. The dialogue between Orthodox jurisdictions is a foundation for fostering a broader understanding and engagement with other Churches.
Mihailo expressed gratitude for “the opportunity to present my work and to answer the questions of the attendees; it is always a good opportunity to hear specific opinions that can encourage further thinking and expand the dialogue.”
In reflecting further on the conference, Mihailo emphasized the range of topics and presenters represented at the event, saying how glad he was to give St Vladimir’s Seminary and Orthodoxy a voice in the discussion. Participating in these types of exchanges reminds Mihailo of why he chose to study theology, he explained, “The common desire for knowledge and service to God and the Church always motivates me to try even harder to contribute my life to the Church.”