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Our Values

Advisory Board

Father Yeprem Archpriest Kelegian

Father Yeprem Archpriest Kelegian serves in the Armenian Orthodox Church. He has an MA in Pastoral Counseling from St. Josephs, an M.Div from St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary, and a BA from Marquette University. He has served as a Priest since 1973 in several Parishes including Holy Virgin Mary and Shoghagat (IL), St. James (MA), St George (CT), and St. Mesrob (WI). Fr. Yeprem was the Spiritual Director of St. Nersess Seminary from 1983 to 2020. 

Fr. Yeprem is currently the Diocesan Parish Coordinator for Fund for Armenian Relief, a humanitarian aid organization, a member of the Wisconsin Council of Churches, representing the Diocese of the Armenian Church with a strong emphasis on peace and justice work, and a member of the Racine Interfaith Coalition, a social justice interfaith organization, representing the Armenian Church.

He is a Board Member of several organizations including, The Armenian Relief, Habitat for Humanity Racine, and Creation Justice Ministries, representing the Diocese. 

Dr. Deacon Christopher Sheklian

Dr. Deacon Christopher Sheklian currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at Radboud University in the Netherlands where he is part of the team “Rewriting Global Orthodoxy.” The project, located in the Department of Comparative Religious Studies and the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology, and Religion, explores the integration of the different Oriental Orthodox Churches into European society over the past fifty years by looking at their textual production.

He holds a B.A. from the  University of California, Berkeley in Anthropology. While an undergraduate student, Christopher was ordained a deacon of the Armenian Church at the age of 20. Dr. Sheklian began a PhD program in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He received his MA in Anthropology in 2011. He spent the 2011-2012 academic year as a special student at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary. From 2012-2014 he conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Armenian community of Istanbul, Turkey, also travelling extensively in historic Armenian and Syriac regions of the Republic of Turkey. Based on this fieldwork, he wrote his dissertation “Theology and the Community: The Armenian Minority, Tradition, and Secularism in Turkey.” He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2017. He continues to serve as the editor of the St. Nersess Theological Review. 

Dr. Sheklian’s academic publications include:

Forthcoming: “How Can We Bring Them In?”: Recent Armenian Migrants and Refugees, Ecclesial Governmentality, and the Liturgical Subject. In Talar Chahinian, Sossie Kasbarian, and Tsolin Nalbantian, eds., Reconsidering the Armenian Diaspora: Social Discipline and Identity Formation during the Long 20th Century 


Forthcoming: “Without Confusion and Without Division”: Armenian Christology and Materiality Studies. In Dzovinar Derderian and Marie-Aude Baronian, eds., Armenian Materialities.

2019: Promises of Property: Religious Foundations and the Justice and Development Party’s Ambiguous Attitudes Towards Religious Minorities. Turkish Studies 20(3):403-420.

2014": Venerating the Saints, Remembering the City: Armenian Memorial Practices and Community Formation in Contemporary Istanbul. In Alexander Agadjanian, ed., Armenian Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practices, pp. 145-170. Fanham: Ashgate Publishers.

Father Simon Shiryl Mathai

Father Shiryl has served as a priest in the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church in North America since 2017 in various pastoral roles related to youth ministry, the race and social justice task force, and as a representative to the National Council of Churches. He holds an MDIV from St Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, MBA from Rutgers University, MPH from Drexel University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Deacon Alem Sellasie

Deacon Alem serves in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and has an MA in Theological Studies, a BS in Physics and works as a Senior Aerospace Engineer on orbit flight sustainment. He is the Head of English Ministry at St. Mary’s Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Washington DC. 


His research interests include Medieval Ethiopian Biblical Commentary Tradition (Andəmta), Biblical Studies, Ethiopian Studies, and Human Rights. He has contributed presentations to the Patristic Brother Series, ‘The Letter that Kills: Textual Variants of Biblical Texts and Their Preservation in the Ethiopian Andəmta Corpus,.’ a study of textual variants in the Ethiopic versions of the Old Testament, Gospels, and Monastic Corpus. 

In the piece, “An Ancient Christian Witness to the Perennial Crisis of Identity,” Deacon Alem writes about how the Ethiopian and Eritrean traditions have informed social justice for nearly 2,000 years, proclaiming that the value of the human is spoken through Scriptures, witnessed by those of faith in the past, including Abuna Petros, a modern Saint and Martyr who resisted Italian fascists during their occupation of Ethiopia.

Deacon Mehari Worku

Deacon Mehari serves in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and is a Doctoral student in the Study of the Christian Near East in the Catholic University of America. He has an MA in Applied Linguistics, and wrote his Thesis on Language Politics, and an MA in the Christian Near East. In the piece “What Can the Oriental Orthodox Church Really Contribute to Anti- Racism Movements,”  Deacon Mehari writes how the Oriental Orthodox Churches can serve as models to the anti- racist movement by “bringing the Cruciform of their history and Eucharistic life as the indispensable perspectives of freedom and the human person.”

Suzie Abdou

Suzie has an M.A. in Applied Orthodox Theology from the University of Balamand, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of California Riverside, and a B.A. in Philosophy and Ancient Greek from Loyola Marymount University. She has 27 years of service on both the parish and diocese levels in the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California & Hawaii.

Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Phoebe has served in the Coptic Orthodox Church in the Archdiocese of North America for 28 years. She is the author of Putting Joy into Practice: Seven Ways to Lift Your Spirit from the Early Church (Paraclete Press, 2019). She has contributed to the anthology Darkness is as Light (Park End Press, 2020). She also edited the revised edition of His Holiness Pope Shenouda’s book, The Life of Repentance and Purity, translated by His Grace Bishop Suriel (SVS Press, 2013). She has written many articles and essays for publications that include Christianity Today, Faith & Leadership, Talking Writing Magazine, Many Women Were Also There: The Participation of Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement, and the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education. She blogs regularly at her personal blog, Being in Community (, where she also features guest posts from a diversity of contributors.


Phoebe has represented the Coptic Orthodox Church in the National Council of Churches Justice for Women Working Group, and has worked for over 20 years in international development, advocacy, governance and human rights. Globally, her advocacy, governance and human rights work has centered on the participation of citizens in the decisions that affect their lives; in the U.S., her work focused on the abolition of the death penalty, the abolition of torture, ending violence against women, and training activists in advocacy skills and in diversity and multiculturalism. She teaches academic research and writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Holy Sophia University. She holds an M.A. in International Education from George Washington University, and a B.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University.She continues to study theology at Pope Shenouda III Coptic Orthodox Theological Seminary.

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