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10 May 2019

Exploring the Orthodox Church

Attending service at Agios Spyridon Church at Pangrati, visiting the Byzantine museum, meeting a nun at the 11th century Ag. Ioannis Theologos Monastery in Papagos, creating a mosaic icon from scratch; hands-on experience and on-site visits are at the center of the REL 365 The Orthodox Church course.

CYA religion professor Despina Iosif describes how, throughout the Spring ’19 semester, her students experienced the Orthodox Church:

This course is a journey introducing the student to the Orthodox Church, the largest of the Eastern Christian Churches. It explores the history, faith, liturgy and spirituality of the Orthodox Church in its natural setting. The exploration is based on lectures, readings, audio-visual presentations, passionate debates, hands-on experience (like making a mosaic icon and interviewing a pious Orthodox on his/her religious identity), visits to authentic monasteries, typical Orthodox churches and significant museums, interacting with Orthodox nuns and priests in their natural settings.

Students are invited to explore how Orthodoxy is lived and practiced in Greece. It aims to familiarize with the rich history, heritage and tradition of the Orthodox Church, in particular, and with the Christian East, in general, to discover the common spiritual foundation and background of Christianity in East and West, to exhibit awareness of students’ own experience of religious tradition and commitment as well as differences in perspective and opinion, and to dispel popular myths and challenge misconceptions about Christianity.

By the end of the semester students are able to identify the landmarks of the history of the Orthodox Church, to appreciate critically the influence of Orthodox Christianity in shaping human experience, to understand the place of the Orthodox Church in the world, and to compare/contrast the spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Church with one’s own faith tradition.

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Professor Iosif, nun Nectaria and CYA students at Agios Ioannis Theologos Monastery

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CYA students get hands-on experience with Orthodox mosaic icons

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On-site lecture at the Athens Byzantine Museum