Rev. Fr. Brendan Pelphrey, PhD Economos, Presiding Priest
Fr. Brendan and Presvytera Sharon's first Sunday at St. Sophia in San Antonio was on August 16, 2015. Native Texans, they have lived in several countries and many parts of the United States, serving as Protestant missionaries in Hong Kong for ten years before converting to Holy Orthodoxy in 1995. Ordained to the priesthood in 2000, he previously served as presiding priest at Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Price Utah; assistant priest at Annunciation, Cranston, Rhode Island; Annunciation Cathedral, Houston, Texas; and as presiding priest at St. George, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Fr. Brendan received his initial theological education at New College, the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) and was privileged to study Church Dogmatic Theology under Prof. T.F. Torrance, who pioneered the study of Orthodox Patristic theology at Edinburgh, and Prof. John Zizioulas (now Metropolitan John of Pergamon). His primary mentor was Brother Roland Walls, a Catholic hermit who introduced the Pelphrey's to Orthodox faith and spiritual life.
Fr. Brendan's education includes a BA with Honors from the University of Texas, with a triple major in Pre-Medicine, Philosophy, and Honors Liberal Arts (Plan II), concentrating in Comparative Cultures; a BD Honours from the University of Edinburgh with Joint Honours in Church Dogmatics and Practical Theology/Christian Ethics; an MTh from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology concentrating in New Testament; and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in Medieval Christian Mysticism (a joint degree in Church Dogmatics and Practical Theology, as the recipient of a full faculty scholarship award). He also holds certificates in Clinical-Pastoral Education, Chinese/Cantonese language, and Critical Incident Stress Management. Following graduate studies in medicine (human anatomy) at Vanderbilt University Medical School and in Philosophy at the University of Texas, he served during the Vietnam War as an Army medic and drug/alcohol counselor, and for several years as a fire department chaplain for the Shreveport (LA) Fire Department. While at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, he received a Taylor Scholarship from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America for studies in Cyprus, as a resident at Kykkos Monastery (the Metochion) in Nicosia, Cyprus.
Founding editor of an international journal on Christian missiology and world religions (Areopagus) for the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre, he worked with Prof. Johannes Aagaard (the University of Aarhus) in interfaith dialogue and the study of New Religious Movements, and has participated in dialogue with HH the Dalai Lama and many representatives of Asian Buddhism in China, Tibet, Nepal, Japan, Mongolia and the Philippines. He has published widely in the areas of English Christian mysticism, Christian spirituality, and interfaith dialogue; participated as a team leader for the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC), and a Frontline priest for the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). Since 1976 he has lectured as a professor or adjunct in many universities and seminaries, chiefly including Lutheran Theological Seminary/Hong Kong, Southeast Asia Graduate School of Theology, Texas Lutheran University, Southwestern University, Texas State University, Hellenic College, and St. Mary's Seminary (St Thomas University), Houston.
The Pelphrey's have three adult children and seven grandsons. Presvytera Sharon has recently published two books in the area of Celtic/Irish studies, translating the Voyage of the Holy Abbot Brendan (7th c) from Latin and editing the Latin text. Fr. Brendan's most recent books are Lo, How I Love Thee! (a theological analysis of the mysticism of Julian of Norwich); and The Secret Seminary (exploring Orthodox theological education in light of the Hesychastic tradition, especially as taught by Br Roland Walls).