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Dr. Elena Nelson has taught Church Slavonic to non-Russian speakers at SSLM since 2013. Her recent book, Tradition and Innovation in Russian Church Slavonic Hymnography, was a featured publication on the website of Academica Press.

The past four years, she has presented her Church Slavonic research in Moscow. In 2019, she presented the biography and work of Archbishop Alypy (Gamanovich), author of the Russian Orthodox Church’s foremost Church Slavonic textbook, at the Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox University International Theological Conference. From 2016-2018, she presented research at the International Educational Christmas Readings Forum, the largest annual forum of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2018, she presented the biography and her analysis of the hymns of Valeria Hoecke, preeminent hymnography of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. Participation in conferences in Russia has resulted in collaborative work with Russian colleagues, and has also guaranteed that SSLM has access to the most up-to-date methods and materials used in Russia.

Dr. Nelson’s method of teaching Church Slavonic acknowledges the specific needs of non-Russians who want to participate in liturgical services as singers or readers.  Her unique approach is based on contemporary foreign language pedagogy techniques, including emphasis on authentic texts and task-based learning. 

A former SSLM student, Dr. Nelson took Archimandrite Joasaph McLellan’s Church Slavonic course in 2001, which inspired her to continue studying Church Slavonic and Slavic Linguistics. Dr. Nelson received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Slavic Languages and Literature in 2010.

Dr. Nelson has taught various languages over the past twenty years at institutions including the University of Rochester, the University of California, Berkeley, St. John of San Francisco Orthodox Academy, the International Language Institute at Rambouillet (France), and Saint Petersburg University (Russia).  In 2018, Dr. Nelson was promoted to Associate Professor of Russian and Church Slavonic at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY. She was then awarded a Carnegie Grant for Social Sciences Research and is currently in Russia, affiliated with Moscow International University.