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While the institute had begun offering courses in 1970, the official opening was celebrated on [[October 7]], 1971 by Patr. Elias IV. On [[December 4]], 1974, the feast day of the institute’s patron saint, St. [[John of Damascus]], commencement for the first class of graduates was held. On [[February 26]], 1975, a decree by the President of Lebanon was made recognizing and accrediting the ''Greek Orthodox Institute of Theology'' at Balamand.
Almost immediately the institute was forced to transfer its operations and students to the University of Thessaloniki in Greece by the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. The students returned to Lebanon in 1978, and and under the leadership of
[[Fr. [[Ephraim (Kyriakos) of Tripoli|Ephraim (Kyriakos)]] classes were again held in Lebanon. Also, in 1978, a Synodal Commission was formed to supervise the institute.