Saint Katherine College is an institution of higher learning that includes students, faculty, researchers, staff, and administrators. This immediate community exists within the broader context of a worldwide Orthodox Christian community that continues a 2000 year-old Tradition of faith. Saint Katherine College is also a residential community that is dedicated to serving Jesus Christ, “For Christ is Our Life.”
While institutions of any sort—particularly those committed to a Christian academic life, and particularly in an era of pluralism and relativism—are complex organizations that cannot be simplified to brief descriptions, an institution defined as a community of learners and inquirers nonetheless sets itself apart from other institutions. While the college is not a church, its members seek to live according to the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church, the Body of Christ. These teachings are revealed in Holy Scripture and Holy Orthodox Christian Tradition. In effect, the members of this community live according to a Christian ethos that honors Christian tradition, and therein respects each member of the community.
For the college’s community ethos to serve its stated purpose, it is vital that each member of the college family understands it clearly and embraces it sincerely. By agreeing to live according to this ethos, we are—before Christ—joining in agreement with other members of the Saint Katherine College community. If we do not desire to live under the guidance of this ethos, we should not agree to it; but if we do agree to it, we must do so with the full intention of living with integrity under its guidance.
Our Community Ethos
The goal of campus life at Saint Katherine College is to live, work, serve, and worship together as an educational community centered on Jesus Christ. The mission of this academic community is not merely the education of the mind; it is also the development of “inquiry seeking Wisdom” in individuals who will engage the church and society worldwide to benefit humanity and to serve the Kingdom. This engagement comes with responsibilities to oneself and to the community at large.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
— 2 Timothy 3:16
The biblical foundation of Christian community is expressed in Jesus Christ’s two great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:37-40). Jesus himself perfectly demonstrated the pattern: love for God, acted out in love for others, in obedience to God’s word. This represents the ideal we strive to achieve as a community of learners and inquirers.
In particular, our ethos aims to achieve the following:
- to cultivate a campus atmosphere that encourages spiritual, moral and intellectual growth,
- to integrate our lives around Christian principles and devotion to Jesus Christ,
- to remove whatever may hinder our calling as a Christ-centered academic community, and
- to encourage one another to see that living for Christ involves dependence on the Holy Spirit and obedience to His teaching.
To meet our calling to be members of this academic community:
- We acknowledge the Lordship of Christ over all of life and thought. This involves a wholehearted obedience to Jesus and careful stewardship in all dimensions of life: our time, our possessions, our God-given capacities, our opportunities (Deut. 6:5-6;1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 1:18; 3:17).
- We love God with our whole being, including our minds, and we love our neighbor as ourselves. Christ-like love should be the motive in all decisions, actions, and relationships (Matt. 22:37-40; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 John 4:7-12).
- We pursue holiness in every aspect of our thought and behavior (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:7; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).
- We exercise our Christian freedom responsibly within the framework of Christian faith and witness, humbly submitting ourselves to one another (1 Pet. 5:5; Eph. 5:21) with loving regard for the needs of others (Phil. 2:3-11; Rom. 14:1-23; 1 Thess. 4:9).
- We treat our own bodies, and those of others, with the honor due the very temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17-20).
- We participate in the worship and activities of the local church, which forms the basic context for Christian living (Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:25; 1 Tim. 3:14-15).
Living the Christian Life
We pray that our ethos will be made manifest in community members pursuing a distinctly Christian way of life. This way of life involves practicing those attitudes and actions Holy Scripture and Tradition describes as virtues and avoiding those described as sinful.
According to the Holy Scripture and Tradition, as followers of Jesus Christ,
- we will show evidence of the Holy Spirit who lives within them, bearing such fruits as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23);
- we will “put on” compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and, above all else, love (Col. 3:12-14);
- we will seek righteousness, mercy and justice, particularly for the helpless and oppressed (Prov. 21:3; 31:8-9; Micah 6:8; Matt. 23:23; Gal. 6:10);
- we will love and cling to what is good in God’s eyes, and abhor what is evil in God’s eyes (Amos 5:15; Rom. 12:9, 16:19);
- we will uphold the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death, as the unique image-bearers of God (Gen. 1:27; Psalm 8:3-8; 139:13-16);
- we will uphold chastity among the unmarried (1 Cor. 6:18) and the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman (Heb. 13:4);
- we will be people of integrity whose word can be fully trusted (Psalm 15:4; Matt. 5:33-37);
- we will give faithful witness to the Gospel (Acts 1:8; 1 Pet. 3:15), practice good works toward all (Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 2:11), and live lives of prayer and thanksgiving (1 Thess. 5:17-18; James 5:16; Titus 2:7-8).
Conversely, Holy Scripture and Tradition condemn the following:
- pride, dishonesty (such as stealing and lying, of which plagiarism is one form), injustice, prejudice, immodesty in dress or behavior, slander, gossip, vulgar or obscene language, blasphemy, greed and materialism (which may manifest themselves in gambling), covetousness, the taking of innocent life, and illegal activities (Prov. 16:18; 1 Cor. 6:10; Exod. 20:7; Rom. 13:9; Col. 3:8-9; James 2:1-13; Gal. 3:26-29; Rom. 13:1-2; 1 Tim. 2:8-10; Heb. 13:5-6); hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and legalism, understood as the imposition of non-Biblical standards of godliness by one person or group upon another (Acts 15:5-11; Matt. 16:6; 23:13-36);
- sinful attitudes and behaviors such as “impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Gal. 5:19-21);
- sexual immorality, such as the use of pornography (Matt. 5:27-28), pre-marital sex, adultery, and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage (Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31).
Of particular concern in a collegiate community are those issues related to alcohol, illegal drugs, and tobacco. While the use of illegal drugs or the abuse of legal drugs is by definition illicit, and the use of tobacco in any form has been shown to be injurious to health, the situation regarding beverage alcohol is more complex. The Bible requires moderation in the use of alcohol, not abstinence. Even so, the fact that alcohol is addictive to many—coupled with the biblical warnings against its dangers—also suggests the need for caution. The abuse of alcohol constitutes by far our society’s greatest substance abuse problem, and many Christians choose to avoid it as a matter of conscience. Thus the question of alcohol consumption represents a prime opportunity for Christians to exercise their free will responsibly, carefully, and in Christ-like love.
We also encourage responsible freedom in matters of entertainment, including the places where members of the college community may seek it, such as television, movies, theater, concerts, and the Internet. The college assumes its members will be guided in their entertainment choices by the Godly wisdom of Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.”
The Saint Katherine College community desires to function under a Christian ethos marked by integrity, responsible freedom, and dynamic, Christ-like love, a place where the name of Jesus Christ is honored in all we do. This requires that each of us keeps his or her word by taking seriously his or her commitment to this ethos, despite pressures to do otherwise.