St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology (Tripoli, Lebanon)
The Balamand Seminary in Lebanon, formally known as the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology, is one of the faculties of the University of Balamand and is the principal theological school for education of clergy within the Church of Antioch. The institute is located in Tripoli, Lebanon.
The idea for the Institute of Theology was formed by Metr. Anthony (Bashir), who was the Archbishop of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, as an establishment with high academic and spiritual standards. The new institute would replace the theological school resident at the Monastery of Our Lady of Balamand in Tripoli. At the general convention of the American Archdiocese in 1965, a decision was made to support the establishment of an institute of theology on the Hill of Balamand.
The Holy Synod of the Antiochian Church decided on August 10, 1966 to lay the cornerstone of the institute, and on August 15,1966, the laying of the cornerstone was celebrated by Patr. Theodosius VI.
While the institute had begun offering courses in 1970, the official opening was celebrated on October 7, 1971 by Patr. Elias IV. On December 4, 1974, the feast day of the institute’s patron saint, St. John of Damascus, commencement for the first class of graduates was held. On February 26, 1975, a decree by the President of Lebanon was made recognizing and accrediting the Greek Orthodox Institute of Theology at Balamand.
Almost immediately the institute was forced to transfer its operations and students to the University of Thessaloniki in Greece by the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. The students returned to Lebanon in 1978, and and under the leadership of Fr. Ephraim (Kyriakos) classes were again held in Lebanon. Also, in 1978, a Synodal Commission was formed to supervise the institute.
The courses of study are conducted in a monastic atmosphere of exercise and training, with community prayers and guidance of spiritual fathers. The faculty lead the students in teaching and theological research centered on the Eastern Christian heritage. Recognizing the centrality of the Eastern Christian heritage in Greek, Syriac, and Arabic, the faculty takes particular interest in the Near East civilizations and their relevancy to the Antiochian legacy.
The courses of study lead to degrees in: Master of Theology in Pastoral Studies, Bachelor of Arts in Orthodox Theology, and Master of Arts in Applied Orthodox Theology.