Book Review: Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church

Divine grace. . . which always heals that which is infirm and completes that which is lacking, ordains N., beloved of God, as deacon. Let us pray for her, that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come upon her.


Dear Editor:

Just a note to tell you that I use the articles and interviews published in the St. Nina Quarterly as "jumping-off-points' for discussion with my two teenage daughters. Being an Orthodox Christian in today's USA can be very difficult, often confusing. Being an Orthodox Christian woman/girl is even more difficult. St. Nina's provides some perspectives, ways to Orthodoxy into our lives.

Orthodox Women and Pastoral Praxis

The ministry of men and women is a topic that is being discussed in many circles today. It is my intention to identify some of the significant issues related to women and to Church praxis (practice) that need to be addressed.

Elisabeth Behr-Sigel Celebrates Her 90th Birthday

As an Orthodox theologian, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel has written several works (all in French): Priére et Sainteté dans l'eglise Russe (Prayer and Holiness in the Russian Church); Alexandre Boukarev: Un Théologien de l'eglise orthodoxe russe en dialogue avec le monde moderne (Alexander Boukarev: A Theologian of the Russian Orthodox Church in Dialogue with the Modern World); Le Lieu du Couer - Initiation la spiritualité de l'eglise orthodoxe (The Place of the Heart: Initiation to the Spirituality of the Orthodox Chur

An Interview with Susan Ashbrook Harvey

Teva: First of all, I want to thank you for taking the time for this interview and sharing your thoughts with the readers of the St. Nina Quarterly. You are known in the academic world as an early Church and patristics scholar. Would you please share more of your background with us and tell us how you came to Orthodoxy?

Healing Ministries Retreat

Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, was the site of the fifth annual retreat/workshop of Orthodox Women in Healing Ministries. Some twenty-five women from many jurisdictions throughout the United States and Canada gathered from June 5th through 8th to pray, share, listen, and discover. This holy monastery has become our motherhouse.

From the Editorial Board

"Before we can assess accurately where we are today and where we may be heading, we must know where we have been. A search of the past is not simply the satisfaction of idle curiosity. It helps us understand not only how we have reached our present state, but also what we may have lost along the way." (Taken from "Women in the Eastern Church: Past, Present and Future" by Valerie Karras. The complete article was published in the Winter 1997 issue of the Quarterly.)

Dormition Retreat in West Virginia

"Mary the Theotokos as Model for Christians" was the theme of the Dormition retreat of the Appalachian, Ohio Valley Deanery of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, held at St. George Orthodox Church in Charleston, West Virginia on 8-9 August 1997.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Hosts International Conference for Orthodox Women

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the host of a conference for Orthodox women entitled "Discerning the 'Signs of the Times' (Mt. 16:3): Women in the Life of the Orthodox Church" held in Constantinople, May 10-17, 1997.

Sponsored by World Council of Churches, the conference brought together about fifty women who were the official delegates of the Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, representing the concerns of Orthodox women from Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, North and South America.

Women in the Syrian Tradition

Syriac legend holds that Christianity was brought to India by the apostle Judas Thomas in the middle of the first century A.D. At the beginning of the Acts of Thomas, the form in which this legend survives, two striking encounters with women take place. The first occurs soon after Thomas arrives in India as a slave, bought to serve King Gundaphorus as a carpenter. The only person to recognize that Thomas is not what he seems is a young Hebrew flute girl.


Dear Editor,

What a nice surprise to find on my desk, upon returning from vacation, your letter and the issues of the St. Nina Quarterly.

Having worked in a women's center for fifteen years, I am always sensitive to various approaches/attitudes concerning women's issues, from total ignorance/indifference to angry, strident radicalism. I find in the St. Nina Quarterly a balanced, intelligent, sincere, perceptive, spiritual and ethical effort to revive places in the Church where women can attain and express fully their spiritual capacity/gifts as human beings along with men for the benefit of all. While "women's issues" has become a loaded topic in our society from many different angles, especially in the area of religion, I applaud the spiritually rooted women (another obvious reflection from the spiritual depth and knowledge of the articles) of WOMEN for their efforts in this endeavor and look forward to future issues and dialogue/involvement.

The Life of Gerontissa Gabriela

The Gerontissa Gabriela was born in Constantinople on October 2/15, 1897. Her family moved to Thessalonika in 1923. She trained in England as a chiropodist and physiotherapist. In 1945 she returned to Greece and worked with the Friends Refugee Mission and the American Farm School in Thessalonika. Later she opened her own therapy office in Athens, where she practiced until 1954, the year her mother died. Sister Lila (later Gerontissa Gabriela) traveled overland to India where she worked with the poorest people, even the lepers, for five years.

WOMENViews - Internet

The Internet is a network of computers that has helped to facilitate instant global communication on almost any topic. Virtual Sisterhood is a gender-related electronic forum on the Internet that offers a list of women's networks throughout the world about all manner of subjects, but with one thing in common - a desire for increased global communications. In recent weeks I've browsed the Internet, and discovered that Orthodox women have no such global network in place.

Neglect Not the Gift that is in You

As soon as I read this passage, it seemed to jump off the page and land in my heart. Implied in this sentence is the fact that I have some special gift within myself: a unique talent and ability, something the Lord Himself has granted to me, something that, if used properly, will bring glory to my Maker, while also fulfilling my sense of accomplishment.

Book Profile: Women in Prism and Focus

This unique collection of essays provides the rare opportunity to read about recent work being done on women in various religious traditions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. While the collection taken as a whole points up many of the similarities of the roles that women play in Eastern and Western religions, the primary focus of the majority of articles in the collection is on the historical role of women in Eastern Christian traditions.

St. Brigit - On Holiness, Authority, and St. Brigit of Kildare

St. Brigit was the abbess of a large double monastery in Kildare, Ireland. She lived during the middle fifth to the early sixth centuries. Like many saints from the early Middle Ages, there is a large body of popular writing regarding her life. Many amazing anecdotal stories have been ascribed to her. We can remain confident, however, that whatever the whole story may be about her life, she must have been quite a remarkable woman.

Liturgical Arts: Icon Painting as Devotion and Discipline

In view of the Green Mountains of Vermont and enclosed within the liturgical richness of Matins and Vespers at New Skete Monastery, I have spent a number of weeks attempting to capture the likeness of Theotokos with the use of egg, water, pigment, and wood.

Pat Reid, the iconographer at the Companions of New Skete, agreed last year to take me on as an apprentice. Under her very excellent and patient tutelage, I have come to a profound appreciation for the devotion and discipline required to portray a holy face.

From the Editorial Board

Sometimes, in the Church, we look to Christ as a model for the men, and Mary for the women. While this is true on some level, it is certainly a simplistic analogy. In the last issue, we began to explore the implications of Christ becoming human, not just male, forming a bridge between God and humanity. In our summer issue, we focus on Mary, the Theotokos, as a model for all, women and men, the icon of the perfect human being as humans were created to be.

Women's Conference in Montreal

"Living by Acts of Faith" was the theme of the sixth annual Orthodox Christian Women of Montreal conference, held this year at St. Michael & St. Gabriel Greek Orthodox Church. As usual the day was the first Saturday in Great Lent. It was also a day after a blizzard, but sixty-six people managed to make it.

The keynote speaker, Irene Vodantis Lafakis, from Birmingham Alabama (it was her first encounter with snow), told the story of her personal faith journey, trying to cope with her little girl's death.

A Journey in Faith

Nearly two hundred women attended "A Journey in Faith: A Conference for Orthodox Christian Women," held on Saturday, February 8, 1997, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee, Wisc. Participants from twenty-six Orthodox Christian parishes in Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Georgia came to hear speakers Khouria Frederica Mathewes-Green and Rev. John Matusiak as well as to participate in a variety of breakout sessions that addressed spiritual concerns and social issues of interest to Orthodox Christian women.

Book Review: Women's Ways of Knowing

Women, and this observation goes back to the roots of psychological inquiry, want to connect with what they learn and to be connected to what they know. Women are educated to attend to others, not to themselves, and to lose themselves in that attendance to others. Relationship, then, is more important to women than to men, who are educated to look out for their own interests and to express themselves. In searching for and building identity, women seek a voice, seek to move out of silence into expression of themselves in relation to others and to the world.

WOMENViews - The St. Nina Quarterly

WOMEN's Colorado mailbox is receiving about ten new inquiries and five

The Myrrh-bearers in the Church of Jerusalem

Many parishes have begun to incorporate myrrhophoroi (myrrh-bearers) into their Great Friday or Resurrection services. While the inclusion of myrrh-bearers is laudable, it is unfortunate that most parishes have chosen to use very young girls, usually dressed in a manner similar to flower girls at weddings. This has led many to believe, erroneously, that myrrhophoroi means "virgins". By contrast, the gospel narratives explicitly identify the original myrrh-bearers as grown and, in most cases, married, women.

The Love of God

Clearly the love of God and the love of neighbor are inseparable, intertwined. Loving God, we love our neighbor; loving our neighbor, we love God. It seems so beautiful and clear, but how do we manifest that love so that we are known as disciples of Christ?

After Easter Reflections 1986

During the 50 days after Easter the Orthodox Church celebrates some exceptional women saints. They are the myrrhophoroi, the Samaritan Woman and the woman with the issue of blood. Their names are inscribed on our calendars. Our service books contain numerous hymns in their honor. The Pentekostarion provides hundreds of examples. And for more than a thousand years theologians and hierarchs wrote and delivered sermons and encomia to these holy women of faith. Yet we pay little or no attention to them.

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