Jeff Holton is an adult convert to Orthodoxy. He currently serves as a high school catechist for his local parish, and especially enjoys presenting the relevance of the faith and the astounding depth of the mysteries to his agape [pun intended] students.
Holton's background in the faith is as a conservative-progressive Presbyterian (USA). He held leadership positions in youth groups at both the primary and secondary education levels. After receiving a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Lafayette College (Easton, PA) in May, 1994, Holton returned to his home church (West Valley Presbyterian, Cupertino, CA) to serve as Director of Youth Ministries.
Around this time he was accepted by his Presbytery as a Candidate for Preparation for Ministry, and he began his graduate work, studying theology under Drs. Robert K. Johnston and Libby Vincent, biblical languages under Dr. John Koeker, history with Dr. Nate Feldmeth, and literature with Dr. Anthony Petrotta. Holton's first academic considerations of Orthodoxy surfaced while working on a paper (The Emergence of the Cult of Saints and Martyrs) for Dr. Feldmeth. Although he could justifiably burn this paper today for heresy in its conclusions, he rather keeps it as a souvenir of the beginnings of formulating his own thoughts on the subject substantially enough to begin to question and unravel them.
In the midst of the ensuing decade, an odd transformation transpired. He met and married an Orthodox woman who had grown up in the Church. After three years attending his home church together (where he was assisting in worship leadership and musical presentations), he decided that fair was fair and began attending Orthodox Liturgy. Sensing that passive spectatorship was of little value, Holton joined the choir as a "floater" bass/tenor, surprising a grateful Kathy Trapp (memory eternal) who wasn't used to people volunteering for such things!
Consistent exposure to the subtle but ultimately unavoidable presence of Christ in the mysteries led to the eventual outpouring of hunger for the Eucharist in early 2002. Holton was made a catechumen in February and was received through Chrismation on Holy Saturday, 2002. He took the name Theophilus (a reasonable translation of "Jeffrey" into Greek). His patron, Blessed Feofil of the Kiev Lavra, is considered dear both for his common heritage in the northern Ukraine as well as a name day coincident with Holton's birthday.
A series of academic fits and starts led to an eventual bestowal of a Master of Arts in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in September, 2004. His culminating thesis was entitled Orthodox-Protestant Dialogue: An Analysis of a Subset of East-West Historical and Contemporary Interactions and a Justification for Orthodox Participation Therein, a paper written for and with Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinnen. He continues to be driven by a strong, deep desire to see Christians of various identifications maintain positive dialogue with one another towards the eventual inclusion of all into the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
Holton works in instructional design near the San Jose Airport. He lives in Livermore, CA, and enjoys playing with his guitar and with his children, but not necessarily in that order. "Children are harder to tune," he says, "but the melodies are a little more interesting, unpredictable, and jazzy." He attends and serves as Parliamentarian on the Parish Council of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Resurrection in Castro Valley, CA, with his son and daughter, his wife, and his wife's parents. He can be found during the first weekend of October in the festival kitchen, feverishly chopping and slicing cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions for gyros, and futilely attempting to cheer "Opa!" (still) with no discernible American accent.
In 2009, Holton became Examiner.com's SF Bay Area Eastern Orthodoxy expert. His blog can be found at their site.
- Jeff's personal blog
- Jeff's Orthodoxy blog
- Greek Orthodox Church of the Resurrection, Castro Valley, California
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