Fr. John is available to speak on: Orthodoxy as the Way of Life. Learn more »
Additional Information: Podcast
Born in Tennessee and raised in Ohio, Fr John Oliver grew up in a broad spiritual context. His earliest memories call to mind summers in the home of his Pentecostal grandparents and the rest of the year at home with Evangelical parents. His neighbors were conservative Jews, calling the young John next door to activate lights and appliances for them on the Sabbath. Later experiences include the United Church of Christ, a Baptist high school, an orthodox Presbyterian church, a Christian and Missionary Alliance congregation, a charismatic gathering, a Quaker college, and interests in Native American spiritualities and Zen Buddhism —these last two brief but formative, widening his worldview to appreciate ecology and mystery.
Fr John attended Seattle Pacific University, and graduated with a degree in English from Malone University, in Canton, Ohio. Baptized into the Orthodox Church as a young adult in 1992, Fr John was ordained to the priesthood in 2003. In 2004, he graduated summa cum laude from St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. Later that year he joined the faculty of St Tikhon’s to lecture in Old and New Testament and American Religious History. During this time, Fr John served as assistant priest at St Philip Orthodox Christian Church, in Souderton, Pennsylvania.
He has been blessed to travel to several of the great tributaries of Orthodox Christian history - Greek, with stays in Thessalonica and Mt Athos; Arab, with visits to Lebanon and Syria; and Russian, with a pilgrimage to Valaam Monastery that resulted in his first book, Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam, published by Conciliar Press. His next book —Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Christian Tradition— is due to be published by Paraclete Press in Spring 2010.
Fr John’s interests are wide. He has lectured extensively on practical ways of developing an Orthodox Christian worldview - discerning the mystery of Christ in the places and persons around us —and his reflections stay near to the wisdom of the saints of Scripture and tradition. In addition to writing and speaking, Fr John is the author and presenter of the popular podcast Hearts and Minds on the internet-based Ancient Faith Radio.
In August of 2006, Fr John began pastoring at St Elizabeth Orthodox Christian Church, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a mission of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. Fr John and his wife, Lara —a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, midwife, and homeschooling mom— have three daughters and two sons.
Special Topic: Orthodoxy as the Way of Life
How the rich mosaic of Orthodox life —prayer, liturgics, worship, scripture, history, spiritual disciplines, etc— comes to bear on our basic ways of seeing the world. We do not see the world as it is, but as we are. The common ways we look at life that faith influences —how we see ourselves, how we see other people, how we see the natural world, how we resolve conflict peacefully in a world of violence, and seeing solutions instead of problems.
Father John leads us to explore:
- Who am I? Or, what is the nature, purpose, and goal of a human being?
- Where am I? Or, what is the nature and purpose of the material world, and my relationship to it?
- What is wrong? Or, what is keeping me from true fulfillment?
- What is the solution? Or, what is the remedy, the way out of despair?