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Eagle River Institute: Previous Speakers
The Eagle River Institute of Orthdox Christian Studies

The Eagle River Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies is sponsored by Saint John Orthodox Cathedral of the Antiochian Archdiocese. It is held each summer August 1-5 at the Cathedral in Eagle River, Alaska, and offers sixteen hours of college level instructions in a variety of Orthodox topics, including Theology, History, Liturgy, Spirituality and Scriptural Studies.

Our Goal

The primary aim of the Institute is to offer ongoing instructions in the Orthodox Faith to the parishioners of St. John's and to other Orthodox Christians in Alaska, who are often unable to attend similar conferences and seminars regularly held in the "lower 48." However, the Eagle River Institute is also open to any who wish to attend and each year the Institute has been enriched by several who have traveled from outside the state to attend. The Institute lectures are also audio-taped and will be made available through the Cathedral's bookstore, Patmos Books & Icons. Email patmosbooks@gmail.com if you would like to order a copy of the recordings.

Registration or Questions

If you're ready to register, or if you just have questions, then send your name, address, phone number, and church affiliation to:

Eagle River Institute
St. John Orthodox Cathedral
P.O. Box 1108
Eagle River, AK 99577
Phone: (907) 696-2002
Email: StJohnERI@aol.com

Tuition is just $50 per "Track" and may be paid before or on July 31. There is no cost for high school and college students who attend, but registration is still required.

To download a copy of the ERI brochure in PDF form, click here.

For a list of past speakers, click here

Eagle River Institute Speakers for 2014

Christianity in the Arab World

Very Rev. Fr. George Shalhoub

The Very Rev. Fr. George Shalhoub was born in Hama Syria, the youngest of 7 children. At the age of 12, he was sent to the Balamand Monastery in Lebanon. Fr. George was ordained a deacon in the Cathedral of the Patriarchate in Damascus, Syria. In 1971, he was sent to the United States. Fr. George is married to Nouhad (Ghareeb) and they have 4 children. Fr. George received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Eastern Michigan University in sociology and psychology, a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from St. John’s Provincial Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Pastoral Counseling from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Fr. Shalhoub is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Madonna University and a faculty member of the Antiochian House of Studies. Fr. George and a handful of parishioners started St. Mary’s mission in 1972. In 1976, they moved into their new church and in 1990, along with the parishioners, Parish Council, Building Committee, Ladies Society, and the Youth, St. Mary’s was able to build a Cultural Center. Finally, in 2002, St. Mary’s moved into its permanent house of worship, The Basilica of St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church where Metropolitan PHILIP proclaimed it, “A new church for a new century.”

Fr. George will give 3 lectures on Christianity in the Arab world plus a special lecture from his new book: The Mystery of Love and Marriage


Voice from Antioch: Key Themes in Saint Ignatius the God-bearer

Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick


The Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick is pastor of St. Paul Orthodox Church of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, author of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (Ancient Faith Publishing/Conciliar Press, 2011) and An Introduction to God (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2014), and host of the Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy and Roads from Emmaus podcasts. He is also a frequent speaker at lectures and retreats both in parishes and in other settings.  He lives with his wife Kh. Nicole and their three children in Emmaus.

He will give 4 Lectures:

  1. Introduction & Martyrdom
  2. Salvation in Christ
  3. The Bishop and the Church
  4. The Eucharist

Fr. George Shalhoub
Fr. George Shalhoub
Fr. George Shalhoub
Fr. Andrew Damick
Fr. Andrew Damick
Fr. Andrew Damick
A Letter From The Pastor

Fr. Marc Dunaway
Fr. Marc Dunaway
Fr. Marc Dunaway


This will be the 20th year St. John’s has hosted this series of teachings, the dates of which are always August 1-5. While the primary purpose is to provide Orthodox teaching for Alaskans who are far removed from many such opportunities in the “lower 48,” we have also been blessed over the years to have visitors join us.

In the fall of 2013 Fr. Nicholas and M. Anastasia were visiting Alaska. Knowing that they have long wanted to recount their many remarkable stories from their years in Alaska, we invited them to be our Institute speakers for this year. During their time in Alaska they were very good friends to our parish and encouraged us in many ways. We are all very glad they will be with us for this week. I also believe that sharing their history at this time will provide an important historical link for all the Orthodox in Alaska today.

A few months later, just as I was in my office talking with Fr. Tom to decide about our second set of speakers, Fr. Nicholas called and wanted to suggest Fr. David and Rozanne Rucker as accompanying speakers. Listening to their vast experience in missionary work and their zeal to share in the Orthodox Faith in America, we were delighted to take this suggestion. Sharing the Gospel is something we must continually emphasize and the fishing metaphor certainly connects very well with Alaskans.

All of us at Saint John’s are looking forward to this valuable time and we invite you to join us if you can find a reason to visit Alaska this summer. We are always greatly blessed by our guests and we have some lodging available right on the cathedral grounds. On this website you will find all the information about this year’s Institute, giving the schedule and lecture titles, along with some general information about our local community. You may also find a brochure for this year's institute helpful. We hope to see you at this summer's Institute.


Fr. Marc Dunaway

Eagle River Institute Schedule of Events

Friday – July 31
7:00pm - Paraklesis

Saturday – August 1

9:15am - Third Hour Prayers

9:30 - 11:30am - Track 1, Session 1
Lunch Following
1:30-3:30pm - Track 2, Session 1
(7:00pm - Daily Vespers)

Sunday – August 2
9:30am - Matins; 10am - Liturgy
3:30 - 5:30pm Track 1, Session 2
Dinner Following
7:30-9:30pm - Track 2, Session 2

Monday – August 3
3:30am–5:30am - Track 1, Session 3
Dinner Following
7:00pm - Daily Vespers
7:30pm–9:30pm - Track 2, Session 3

Tuesday – August 4
3:30pm–5:30pm - Track 2, Session 4
Dinner Following
(7:00pm - Daily Vespers)
7:30pm–9:30pm - Special Lecture by Fr. George from his new book,
Mystery of Love and Marriage

Wednesday – August 5
7:00pm - Great Vespers for the Feast of the Transfiguration
8:00pm–9:0pm - Final Session (Q&A for both Tracks)

Thursday - August 6
9:00am - Matins for the Feast of the Transfiguration
6:15pm - Divine Liturgy for the Feast of the Transfiguration
Salmon potluck immediately following

St. Herman of Alaska Pilgrimage - August 6th - 9th

For those with the time and means to do so, there is an opportunity for a very special "add-on" to the Eagle River Institute. Each year Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, Kodiak, hosts an annual pilgrimage to Spruce Island on the anniversary of the canonization of St. Herman of Alaska which took place on August 9th, 1970.

The schedule of events and activities is normally available on the Alaska OCA web site, though at the time of this writing (June 21) the page is not yet ready.  For further information please contact Rev. Innocent Dresdow at 907-486-3854.  The "Frequently asked questions" page has helpful information, and contact numbers for transportation and local lodging.

There used to be a warning on the itinerary that said "Subject to Change", referring to the unpredictable weather and ocean conditions. It isn’t there now, but the weather can still be unpredictable and play havoc with the pilgrimage plans-there have been years when the visit to Spruce Island had to be delayed or canceled due to bad weather. In any event, you would still be able to venerate the relics of St. Herman during the Divine Liturgy at the Kodiak cathedral.

Weather permitting, the fishing boats that carry pilgrims to Spruce Island depart the Kodiak docks around 8am. Weather conditions are often cool and damp, so it would always be prudent to have a windbreaker or other wet weather clothing on hand. The year I attended I made the mistake of going over in a vintage Navy landing craft, and was drenched with sea water each time the flat prow smacked into a wave. You should try not to make the same mistake!

Lunch is provided at the beach on Spruce Island by the women of the church following the pilgrimage so you needn't bring your own food. You may want to bring a small bottle to fill with holy water from the spring, and a bag or small container for soil from the island.

Both Alaska Airlines and Era Aviation operate flights from Anchorage to Kodiak. Since Era Aviation is a regional carrier that only operates in state, they have no security screening requirement. Alaska Airlines does not operate separate check-in gates for in-state destinations, so all their passengers are processed through the same security gate. At the time of this writing, the lowest round trip airfare from Anchorage to Kodiak is quoted as $298 on Expedia.com, with a discount advertised for flight+room.

For a more adventuresome and leisurely connection, the Alaska Marine Highway System operates a ferry between Homer and Kodiak. I found their published schedules to be difficult to read, and wound up phoning their Anchorage office at 907-272-4482 for personal assistance.

The high-end commercial lodging is the Best Western Kodiak Inn, the only national chain lodging in Kodiak. They can be contacted directly at 907-486-5712. Current rates range from $92-$140 per night. They offer an airport shuttle service, which makes hiring a taxi unnecessary. Once in Kodiak, everything is within easy walking distance - in fact, the Inn is directly across from the boat harbor where the pilgrimage departs from. Of the other two establishments, the Russian Heritage Inn (a modest motel, actually, despite the name) is the most centrally located, and folks who’ve stayed there reported that they were entirely satisfied with their rooms.

Directly across the street from the Russian Heritage Inn is Monk's Rock Bookstore, which is not to be missed. Operated by the faculty and youth of the St. Innocent's Academy, they offer coffee, tea, sandwiches and snack items; books on theology, history, society and culture; icons, prayer ropes, incense and other miscellaneous items of interest. If Fr. Paisius offers an Open House of the Academy again this year, go and learn about the wonderful work being done in turning around the lives of "at-risk" teens.

In years past the Academy would throw a post-pilgrimage party in the parking lot of the bookstore. It was not part of the "official" pilgrimage itinerary, but nevertheless it was an exuberant musical celebration that often lasted late into the evening, unforgettable for anyone who was able to attend. Fortunately, the Academy has now been incorporated into the official program, and they perform at the 5pm "Festival in the Park". Don't miss it!

If you do decide to make the pilgrimage we pray it will be a very special and significant experience for you. If you care to write a little something about it we'd love to hear from you!

For questions, comments, or more information about the St. Herman pilgrimage, please contact me, St. John's pilgrimage coordinator at: jpiper51@gmail.com.


John Morrison
St. John's Pilgrimage Coordinator
Previous Institutes

Metropolitan KALLISTOS (Ware)
Metropolitan KALLISTOS (Ware)
Metropolitan KALLISTOS (Ware)

Miss an Institute? Or want to hear it again?

2012 Eagle River Institute recordings are now available through the Cathedral's bookstore. Cost is $5 per series/lecture track, and are provided in Mp3 format. Email PatmosBooks@gmail.com to place an order FOR 2012 ERI ONLY, or pick up a copy in our bookstore at the Cathedral. Previous ERI recordings are still available through Orthodox Christian Cassettes.

Lectures are recorded and made available by Orthodox Christian Cassettes for Institutes up through 2011. For information, contact:

Orthodox Christian Cassettes
2919 N. 56th Street
Springdale, AR 72762
Email: occassette@aol.com
Web: http://www.orthodoxtapes.org

Click here for a list of past speakers.

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