St Philaret’s Institute was founded by then-Deacon Georgy Kochetkov in 1988, and pursued its activities unofficially during the Soviet period. In 1992, the Institute was registered as an independent academic institution and, with the blessing of Patriarch Alexiy II of Moscow and all Russia, was initially called the Moscow Christian Orthodox School for Higher Education.
SFI is a secular institution of higher learning, though we strive to base our educational process upon Christian principles, and see our basic purpose as helping each person to find his or her specific calling and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to fulfil this calling.
The Institute’s programmes in Theology, Religious Studies, Russian Social History and Social Work are designed first and foremost for people who already have a higher education and who seek not only quality professional training, but also to acquire a specific view of the human person as a being called to create value and meaning, be in communion with others, and creatively give of himself.
Our students are people of different ages who have differing worldviews and come from different social backgrounds and professions: we are economists, programmers, doctors, businessmen, priests, teachers, scholars, journalists, pensioners and young mothers. What brings us together is a desire to live meaningfully and deliberately rather than pursue petty self-gain.
Each year, we have about 500 people studying at SFI.
The Institute’s scholarly priorities lie in the fields of Orthodox Ecclesiology and Anthropology, Catechesis, Missiology, Russian 20th c. Theology and the experience of the New Martyrs, Liturgics, and the History of Russian Church and Society in the 20th century.
For more than 30 years, under the directorship of Fr Georgy Kochetkov, SFI has been translating liturgical materials used in worship services from Ancient Greek and Church Slavonic into modern Russian. The entire corpus of invariable liturgical texts has already been translated and republished several times.
Our Research Centre for Mission and Catechesis is a project of the SFI Faculty of Missiology, Catechetics and Preaching. The Centre’s main task is to study mission, catechesis and preaching within the historical experience of the Christian church, analyse and systematize existing practices, and support the renewal of ancient mission and catechetical practices of our church fathers within today’s church.
Within the field of Church History, studying the life of Orthodox brotherhoods from the 19th and 20th centuries is a special research interest for the Institute, as is the inheritance of the Russian New Martys and Confessors.
The Institute publishes a quarterly periodical entitled SFI Journal; it is a scholarly review journal listed by the State Commission for Academic Degrees and Titles under the rubric, “Theology” (26.00.01).
In its publishing endeavours, the Institute pays special attention to research in the fields of Missiology and Catechetics. The Institute has published a great number of articles and many monographs on the theory, practice and history of mission and catechesis, as well as methodolocial aids and teaching materials for catechists. The works of many modern theologians have been translated and published, including those of Archbishop Anastasios (Yannoulatos), Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), Metropolitan George (Khodr), Fr John Meyendorff, Olivier Clement, Christos Yannaras, Karl Christian Felmy, Robert Götz, and others.
Among the Institute’s Trustees are well-known scholars and societal activists, professors from schools and universities both within Russia and abroad. Over the years, Sergei Averintsev, Hieromonk Mikhail (Arrants), Olivier Clement, Fr Pavel Adelgeim, and other leading scholars, theologians and churchmen have lectured at SFI.
We strive to help establish quality spiritual, intellectual and cultural links within both church and society by creating a space that fosters community between people from the most diverse backgrounds. SFI hosts seminars, open lectures, meetings with interesting representatives of culture and society, exhibitions relating to 20th c. church history, and other projects for the general education of the public.