Our Story

St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology is an academic community of the¬†Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America¬†serving through Research, Writing, and Education. ¬†‚Äč

St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible. FEIN: 77-0187320

Read more about us in The WORD Magazine: Train Up a Child, by Fr. Matthew Snowden, Principal of St. Athanasius Academy

Who We Are & What We Do

‚ÄčSt. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology was founded as an arm of the Evangelical Orthodox Church and entered canonical Orthodoxy when that body was brought into the Antiochian Archdiocese. We offer an Online Study Program and carry out various programs of research and study to prepare materials presenting the Orthodox Christian faith to Americans. The Orthodox Study Bible is an outstanding example of the fruit of our literature¬†programs.¬†Also, whenever appropriate, we publish audio and video tapes on various topics.

Mission Statement

‚ÄčSaint Athanasius Academy endeavors to enrich its students‚Äô understanding of the Orthodox Catholic Church‚Äôs teachings and traditions.¬† We endeavor

  1. to be a valuable and helpful teaching ministry of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North American and a service to all,
  2. to help all Christians learn more about the history, teachings, and practice of the Church, and
  3. to help spread the Spirit of Orthodox Christianity to all Americans.

‚ÄčStatement of Faith

‚ÄčWe believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man. And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried. And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; whose Kingdom shall have no end.

‚ÄčAnd [we believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

‚ÄčTimeline of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology

St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology opened its doors to a resident program of studies. These studies centered around the study of Latin and Greek, research into the Patristic Literature, the translation of writings not found in English, and the study of Church History and Worship. Professors included Jack N. Sparks, Dean, Jon E. Braun, and J. Richard Ballew, who taught from their research conducted over the previous 3 years. Fr. Jack taught early Church Worship, Fr. Jon Church History, and Fr. Richard Theology with a focus on Nicene Christology.

Gordon Walker moved to Santa Barbara and joined the faculty to teach biblical studies. For several years, Weekend Institutes of Biblical Studies (WIBT) were offered through St. Athanasius Academy to the Churches of the Evangelical Orthodox Church, which had been formed in 1979. Other EOC bishops also taught WIBT classes during this time. These institutes continued until after the reception of the EOC into the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.

Mid 1980s
A one-year Post-High School program was developed to prepare high school graduates for college studies. The program was designed to strengthen their faith through doctrinal teaching, Church History, and Liturgical Studies.

St. Athanasius was received into the Antiochian Archdiocese in February 1987. Enrolment increased, and a facility was leased in the foothills of Santa Barbara to provide housing for faculty and students with room and board, as well as sufficient classrooms and office space.

At the same time, an ambitious project was launched to produce an Orthodox Study Bible of the New Testament. Fr. Peter Gillquist, who at the time was an editor for Thomas Nelson Publishers, served as the lead editor of the project.

Due to financial difficulties brought on primarily by the US economic recession following the Gulf War in Kuwait, which particularly hit Southern California, the Academy closed its doors to the residency program of studies but retained its correspondence courses.

The headquarters of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology was transferred to Sacramento when Fr. Richard Ballew and Fr. Jack Sparks relocated there. The correspondence courses continued, and many non-Orthodox students became Orthodox through their studies.

Correspondence Courses began to be used to provide Orthodox Christian Education to prisoners. This program is facilitated by the OCPM.

The Academy took up an ambitious project to produce an Orthodox Study Bible of the Old Testament, including a new translation of the Old Testament into English using the Septuagint. This project was completed, and the entire Orthodox Study Bible was published in 2008.

The correspondence courses of the Academy moved online. An online homeschool tutorial for 6th-12th grade was launched with six classes and 70 enrollments (not students). St. Athanasius College relaunched online with the new Associate of Arts in General Studies.

Two divisions were created: 1) St. Athanasius Academy for online studies of K-12 grades and 2) St. Athanasius College.

The academy grew to 287 enrollments due to COVID-19. In collaboration with the Antiochian Dept. of Missions and Evangelism, St. Athanasius College organized a summer internship program at the Neighborhood Resilience Project.

The academy enrollments grew to 400 plus students due to our pedagogy. In two short years, SAA added several core study options in math, science, history, and language arts that also pair well with many of the elective course offerings, and SAA’s signature Orthodox Study courses for K-12th grade. Sh. Shell Keim’s “Keim Time Learning” (pre-recorded lessons) has been a successful option for homeschool families in K-3rd grade.


The winged lion was adopted as the academy logo.  The winged lion is the official symbol of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. St. Athanasius was both born in Alexandria and elected Patriarch in 326 AD. This symbol is also known as the Lion of St. Mark because St. Mark the Evangelist is considered the founder of the Alexandrian Patriarchate.

As a third option after high school, the Third Way program offers an opportunity to pursue a degree, study abroad, learn leadership, and gain practical skills all at an Orthodox hybrid campus.