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New York City: Institute for Studies in Eastern Christianity at Union Theological Seminary to hold Fifth Annual Conference

With the blessing of His Eminence Hilarion, Metropolitan of Eastern America & New York, the Institute for Studies in Eastern Christianity (ISEC) of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (formerly the Sophia Institute of Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Studies) is happy to announce the upcoming fall 2021 conference, which will take place on Friday, December 17, on the theme of "Prayer in Eastern Christian Tradition."

Prayer stands at the very core of Christian faith and devotional life. It represents our ongoing conversation with God. It is perhaps for this reason that some prominent ascetics and spiritual leaders suggest that our practice of praying must be unceasing. We must not alienate ourselves from God as the estrangement from God constitutes spiritual death. Our life is first and foremost the life of prayer.

Prayer has various ritual and sacramental aspects. It is the major element of liturgical celebrations. The Holy Sacraments are sealed by the Spirit through prayer. We pray collectively, asking God for peace and salvation. We pray privately when challenged by various circumstances, asking God to strengthen our heart and clarify our mind. We pray for the living and for the dead. In our day and age, multiple instances of injustice and inequality need our redemptive prayer. And we direct our gaze to God, asking for well-being to be granted to all people. We pray for the unity of the Churches of God. Prayer is the foundation of our interface and inter-religious dialogue.

What is prayer? How do we pray? How do we pray in the age of despair? What are the traditions of prayer (e.g. prayer of the heart, noetic prayer, the Jesus Prayer, psalmody, among others) that can help us restore our spiritual sight and lead the mind and heart to God? What is the role of the body in prayer? What can we learn from the prayer of other traditions? These questions are often asked in conversation. What are our answers?

We call on scholars, religious leaders, lay people, and social activists to offer academic papers related to the conference theme. Please e-mail a short abstract (200 words), email address, and mailing address before November 15.

A day-long gathering (9:00 AM to 6:00 PM – with registration beginning at 8:00 AM), will focus on the various ways the Eastern Orthodox Church, over past centuries and in recent times, has theologized on the questions of the meaning and efficacy of prayer in the modern world. This conference will thus address the central topics of spirituality, liturgical studies, asceticism, ethics, and canon law.

The conference conveners plan to produce a scholarly volume of papers that are presented that will continue the ground-breaking approach characteristic of previous conferences.

Rev. Dr. Conrad Fischer, Chair of ISEC

Please email your submission to: Rev. Dr. Sergey Trostyanskiy

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Eastern American Diocese | Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia