Diocesan Seminarians

Deacon Anthony Saunders

Home Parish: Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, Albion, MI

Seminary: St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Year & Program: 2nd year M.Div.

Fr. Anthony (Payton) and Bethany (Martha) are Michigan natives who met as students at Spring Arbor University, where they both earned undergraduate and graduate degrees. Fr. Anthony worked as a math teacher for nine years, first at a therapeutic boarding school, then in public school. Bethany worked as a counselor at a private practice.

Fr. Anthony and Bethany were chrismated on Holy Saturday in 2010, at Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, in Albion, MI. The Saunders have been active participants in parish life: helping with the services, teaching church school, supporting the local OCF, and serving on parish council.

Fr. Anthony and Bethany both come from ministry-oriented families, who first taught them to continually offer their whole lives to God. In 2019, the Saunders moved to St. Tikhon’s Seminary, in South Canaan, PA. Fr. Anthony is expected to graduate in 2022. Father and Bethany have two young girls, Anna and Adelaide.

Andrew Prather

Home Parish: St. Nicholas Mission, Pella, IA

Seminary: St. Vladimir’s Seminary

Year & Program: 1st year M.Div.

Andrew grew up United Methodist in the Des Moines, Iowa metro area. He attended Central College in Pella, Iowa, double majoring in Religion and Computer Science. While at Central, he discovered the Orthodox Church and started attending St. Nicholas Mission. He became a catechumen in 2010 and was chrismated in 2012. After college, he worked for 9 years in Healthcare IT, specializing in PACs. In late 2019, he felt a call to leave his home of 14 years, for seminary at St. Vladimir’s, enrolling in the Master of Arts program in the fall of 2020. He transferred to the Master of Divinity program in December 2020. Andrew is engaged to Amber Bennett of St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church (OCA), Poulsbo, WA.

Joseph Whittaker

Home Parish: St. Andrew Orthodox Church, East Lansing, MI

Seminary: St. Tikhon’s Seminary

Year & Program: 1st year M.Div.

Joseph and Julianna were born and raised near Lansing, Michigan. Joseph attended Great Lakes Christian College where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Theology. Julianna attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Upon graduation, Joseph and Julianna married and became involved in a local Reformed church where Joseph was a pastoral intern. It was at that time that they began to read more from the writings of the early Church which eventually led to them entering the Catechumenate at St. Andrews Orthodox Church in East Lansing, Michigan. After one year as Catechumens, Joseph and Julianna were received into the Orthodox Church in October of 2016.

They have three children: Juniper (5), Genevieve (3), and Ephraim (1) and will soon welcome their fourth, a baby girl. The Whittaker family moved to South Canaan, Pennsylvania in the fall of 2020 to attend St. Tikhon’s Seminary. Joseph is expected to Graduate with a Masters of Divinity in 2023.

Support our Seminarians!

Use the links below to donate to the respective seminaries. You can make a note on your donation about which of our seminarians that you would like your donation to go to.

Are you interested in attending seminary?

Seminary is not just for clergy, it is for anyone who takes their Orthodox Christian faith seriously and wants to offer that desire to the Lord in service to His Church.

The process for applying is simple, but very personal. Begin by praying, then speak with your parish priest today about your desire to attend seminary. If it is blessed, he will bring your desire to the bishop at an appropriate time and the Lord will take care of the rest.

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