The functioning periods of the Theological School of Halki during its 127 year history

The life of the Theological School of Halki in its long-lived history covering one hundred twenty-seven years (1844 - 1971), is divided into four periods according to the functioning method implemented by the School:

  • the first period, 1844 - 1919, during which the study cycle was seven years, except between the years 1899 - 1904, during which an eighth class was added;
  • the second period, 1919 - 1923, during which the High School was abolished and the School functioned as an Academy;
  • the third period, 1923 - 1951, during which the School reinstated the original seven-year system, after it underwent reformation from the first class to the last, a process that was completed in 1930; and
  • the fourth period, 1951 - 1971, during which the School functioned as two different departments that were independent from one another, namely as an independent lyceum with a three-year study cycle and as a theological department with a four-year study cycle, equivalent to university Theological Schools1.

This last period indeed constitutes a historic milestone in the most important part of the life of the theological and ecclesiastical education offered by the School, given the unique character it brings to the functional system employed, in comparison to former periods, and its important contribution and offering to the pastoral, inter-Orthodox and inter-Christian ministry and the mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, despite its short-lived duration. Being the writer of this and having personal experience and knowledge of this period, Ι will try to describe here the reasons as to why the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided, from the end of World War II (WWII) 1939-1945, onwards to proceed with the reorganization of the School’s function. It needed the approval of the Turkish government, in obtaining special educational status for the School and exhibiting the resulting benefits and achievements arising from such a reorganization and application of the School function. These benefits can best be appreciated as the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church in its See, had to survive with the graduates of the fourth period during the forced suspension of the School function in 1971. The resulting dangerous scarcity of individuals educated in Theology and matters of the Church in its See as well as in its Archdioceses and Metropolises created a large generation of educated theologians throughout the world belonging to the canonical jurisdiction.

Apostolos D. Mexis, Ἡ ἐν Χάλκῃ Ἱερά Θεολογική Σχολή (1844 -1933), vol. A, Constantinoupolis, 1933, vol. B, Stambul 1953, vol. C, Stambul 1957.
Emilianos οf Philadelphia, Σύντομος Ἱστορική Ἐπισκόπησις (1844-1944), Ὀρθοδοξία, Special issue on the one-hundred years of the Τheological School in Halki, 1944, page 310.
Vassilios Th. Stavridis, Ἡ Ἱερά Θεολογική Σχολή τῆς Χάλκης, 2nd edition, Thessaloniki 1988, page 45.