Ancient Faith Speaker Series


St. Raphael School has partnered with Ancient Faith Ministries to bring you an exciting year of authors and speakers!


Each session will be hosted via live, Zoom video conferencing. Please come ready to experience an intimate conversation with our hosts – without leaving your home! Be sure you have a strong WiFi connection, have a working video camera and audio. The sessions will be live, in real time; not a pre-recorded webinar. Visit the Classroom Technology section of our Student-Parent Handbook page for more tech specifics.


Please join us to listen to, engage with and enjoy the company of like-minded friends!

These events are open to the public and free of charge! Register for login information.

Lessons from the Womb: What Childbearing Says About Lifelong Growth

Laura S. Jansson

  • Date: Dec. 6, 2019
  • Time: 2:30 – 4:00 pm EST
  • Live Zoom meeting
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Session Summary:

Growth is a thread running through every aspect of our lives – as parents, as home educators, and as Christians. But what can we do to foster the growth we seek? In this talk, Orthodox doula, mother of four and former home educator Laura Jansson presents the experience of childbearing as a universal model for human growth. Pregnancy and birth take us on a journey of growth which has an obvious physical aspect – the growth of our bellies as the day of birth approaches. But this physical expansion is not just functional; it is in fact an icon or image of the growth that happens within our hearts as we are shaped into the people we will need to be. In this way, the experience of pregnancy teaches us not only how to become parents but also how to grow as people, whether we are parents or not. Laura presents the five lessons childbearing has taught her about how humans grow, but it might surprise you to learn that these lessons are not just for mothers. They’re for anyone wanting to discern the deep meaning that childbearing has in the world.

Laura S. Jansson is an Orthodox Christian doula, childbirth educator, and mother living and writing at the intersection of birth and faith. She earned her Masters degree in Theology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford, UK, and has also resided in the USA, Serbia, Germany, and Fiji. Since 2005 she has guided scores of expectant mothers on the path to parenthood, witnessing with wonder as bellies and souls grow along the way.

Related resources from host:

Fertile Ground: a Pilgrimage Through Pregnancy



Session Title TBD

Summer Kinard

  • Date: Tuesday, January 21, 2020
  • Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST
  • Live Zoom meeting

Check back soon to register

Summary of Session: TBD

Summer Kinard: As an autistic mother rearing autistic children in the Faith, Summer Kinard knows firsthand many of the challenges of life with disabilities. She brings her extensive background in patristic theology and catechesis (B.A. in religion, M.Div., Th.M. in early church history and theology) to skillfully weave together the healing patterns of Holy Tradition with the daily patterns of life with disabilities. Summer has become acquainted with hundreds of Orthodox families with disabilities through sharing on her website the resources she has developed to make faith accessible to them. At a time when at least twenty percent of people live with disabilities and two percent are autistic, there is an urgent need to apply church teachings to questions about the care and inclusion of persons with disabilities as full members of Christ’s Body. Summer brings the grace, kindness, and insight of an experienced teacher and mother to begin answering those questions. Summer Kinard is a Greek Orthodox Christian in the Metropolis of Denver. She lives with her husband Andrew and five children in Texas.

Session Title TBD

Rita Madden

  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020
  • Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST
  • Live Zoom meeting

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Summary of Session: TBD

Rita Madden, MPH, RDN: is the nutrition director for Mediterranean Wellness, a company that focuses on sensible weight loss/management and chronic disease prevention/management. She completed her graduate work in public-health nutrition at Loma Linda University. She has a podcast on the subject of food, health, and the Eastern Orthodox Faith on Ancient Faith Radio. She also conducts workshops on this subject matter around the country.

Don’t just look for good culture. Go make it!

Dn. Nicholas Kotar

  • Date: Monday, May 4, 2020
  • Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm EST
  • Live Zoom meeting

Check back soon to register

Summary of Session:

What is the purpose of a Christian life? We get asked this question all the time. And there are so many answers that it can get bewildering. But what if the answer was something we never considered at all? What if the purpose of a Christian life was to create Christian culture?
That’s exactly what Russian writer and philosopher Ivan Ilyin thought. And He didn’t mince his words: 
“The Gospel teaches not flight from the world, but the Christianization of the world.  Thus, the sciences, the arts, politics, and the social order can all be those spiritual hands with which the Christian takes the world.  And the calling of a Christian is not to chop off those hands, but to imbue their work and toil with the living spirit of Christ.  Christianity has a great calling, which many do not ever realize.  This purpose can be defined as the creation of a Christian culture.”
In this lecture, we will break down Ilyin’s handbook for the creation of Christian culture in a post-Christian world. Not only will you come away with a renewed appreciation for the role of art and culture in your life, but hopefully you will be inspired to go and create something beautiful yourself!

Dn. Nicholas Kotar: I come from a family of Russian immigrants who moved from Russia after the Revolution, and I grew up in what was essentially a Russian ghetto in San Francisco. I spoke Russian before I spoke English.

My sister and I were homeschooled until a bright and sunny day when my mom had had enough of cat-herding. So she decided to open a school (thinking it would be less of a hassle, I suppose?), which she and my dad then administered for the next twenty years of their life (without taking a penny for it). This school, St. John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy, is a shining light of classical education in the Orthodox Christian community.

After graduating from UC Berkeley (yes, I studied Russian Literature, how did you guess?), I came back to teach in St. John’s for seven years. Those years were formative for me and for many of the teachers, because of the talent of the faculty. There were poets, philosophers, politicians, and musicians among my colleagues, and our regular tea-fueled conversations by the fireplace had something of the Inklings about them.

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