The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is the official collegiate campus ministry program under the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. Our mission is to support fellowships on college campuses, whose members experience and witness to the Orthodox Christian Church through community life, prayer, service to others and study of the Faith.
Our headquarters is located in Brookline, Mass and supports over 300 local university chapter across the U.S. and Canada. In addition, we provide a variety of thoughtful and innovative programming, including regional training, annual conferences, and domestic and international service learning projects.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) has a rich history in North America that spans over 50 years. Following WWII, an Orthodox college student movement began to emerge. Individual campus groups were formed at various universities, including Columbia, McGill, and Penn State, and for the first time, Orthodoxy was being celebrated and shared on college campuses.
In the spring of 1965, the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) formalized the Church’s campus work by creating the Campus Commission to oversee and coordinate these developing local fellowships. James Couchell (now Bishop Dimitrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) was named the organization’s first Executive Director. Visiting colleges coast-to-coast, he established hundreds of campus chapters, launched the very popular quarterly magazine Concern and held annual retreats at St. Vladimir's and Holy Cross seminaries (predecessors of our present-day College Conferences).
In 1971, James Couchell was re-assigned, and Orthodox campus ministry struggled and eventually closed. Despite this, the spirit and mission of OCF was kept alive by individual chapters across the country. Then, in 1997, three seminarian classmates pledged to work together towards the resurgence of a pan-Orthodox campus ministry. In 2000, Fr. Michael Nasser of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, Fr. Mark Leondis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and Fr. Michael Andersen of the Orthodox Church in America went before SCOBA and asked for the formal reestablishment of a North American campus ministry. Each jurisdiction was then petitioned for appointments. The three initiating members were joined by Natalie Kapeluck-Nixon, appointed by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA.
With a Board in place, OCF partnered with The Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute based at the University of Berkeley where OCF set up its office. Over the next two years, the Board responded to the needs and requests of students and worked to establish the framework of what is now called Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF). With the inspiration and hard work of the students, OCF created a website, an online directory, Real Break, College Conference, a student newsletter, and a variety of other resources for campus chapters.
Looking to take the ministry to the next step, the Board hired a full-time administrator during the summer of 2002 and moved the North American office to the campus of Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. At the same time, OCF received a portion of a Lilly Endowment grant awarded to Hellenic College for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. This five-year scaling grant enabled OCF to build an infrastructure, hire staff, and expand its programs.
In 2010, OCF celebrated its tenth anniversary of being reinstated. In ten short years, the number of OCF chapters has exploded from 50 to over 300, eight of the ten Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops jurisdictions are represented on the Board of Directors, Real Break travels to multiple locations domestic and international, College Conference has expanded, a North American Chaplain has been assigned and consequently a regional chaplains network has been instituted. These are only a few of the many achievements OCF has been blessed to realize in such a short time
Under the direction of Metropolitan Isaiah, Deacon Paul Zaharas, Chairperson of the Board and the newest Executive Director, Jen Nahas, OCF is moving forward as strong as ever, developing and implementing a new organizational structure that puts the students and the local chapter at the heart of OCF. Likewise, OCF is working to improve in the areas of leadership training, high school to college transition, and college to parish transition through new and innovative programs and partnerships with other organizations in the Orthodox world.
Most importantly, OCF continues to provide a home for students on college campuses across the continent—upholding the vision of its early founders and leaders, and the mission established in 2000. With more chapters developing, the future of OCF is bright in its continued journey to glorify God by supporting His students.
His Grace, Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos:
A native of Greenville, SC, born in 1938, Bishop Dimitrios (Couchell) of Xanthos attended Northwestern University and graduated from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 1963. Following a year of studies at Yale Divinity School, he was employed in September 1964 to initiate a Campus Ministry program for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. This resulted in the establishment of the Campus Commission, under SCOBA in 1965, and the publication of "Concern" magazine, a quarterly for Orthodox Christian college students. He visited over 500 campuses during this period, establishing contact with several thousand Orthodox students and faculty, and more than 100 Orthodox Christian Fellowships.
On behalf of the OCF's, he joined and served on the Executive Committee of Syndesmos from 1971 to 1977, and was elected President in July 1977.
In September 1971, he was appointed the first English Editor of the new bi-weekly newspaper of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, the "Orthodox Observer," with a circulation of 120,000. During this period, he served as an officer of the Orthodox Theological Society in America, on the Board of Directors of the Associated Church Press, and represented the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in various capacities at the National Council of Churches of Christ.
In May 1981, still a layman, Mr. Couchell was appointed Executive Director of the St. Photios Foundation in St. Augustine, FL, and was charged with competing and opening the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine. The shrine opened in February 1982. Located on the site where members of the first colony of Greeks in America gathered for prayer and fellowship (1777), it continues to receive nearly 100,000 visitors each year.
In 1983, Mr. Couchell was ordained to the holy diaconate by Bishop John in Charlotte, NC, and to the holy priesthood by Archbishop Iakovos, in St. Augustine. He was elevated to the rank of Archimandrite in 1985.
In January 1985, the work of the Shrine was expanded to include the mission work of the Archdiocese. This work grew so rapidly that a separate Department of Missions was established, with its own staff and facility. Meeting a great need within the Orthodox world, the work of the Mission Center expanded to include mission efforts around the globe. In 1994, it sought and received the blessings of SCOBA, and the Orthodox Christian Mission Center (OCMC) became the Mission and Evangelism Agency for all the SCOBA member jurisdictions. Fr. Couchell represented the OCMC on the Missions Committees of the National Council of Churches of Christ, and the World Council of Churches, as well as the Orthodox Advisory group of the World Council of Churches. Fr. Couchell served as the Founding Director of the OCMC and the St. Photios Shrine through August 1998.
He was elected to the episcopacy by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on May 18, 1998, and was ordained as Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos at St. George Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA, on Sunday, May 31, 1998, by Archbishop Spyridon. As an Auxiliary to the Archbishop, he assumed duties as Ecumenical Officer of the Archdiocese and General Secretary of SCOBA in September 1998. He served on the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, the Board of Christian Churches Together, the Committee of Religious Leaders of New York City, the Council of Churches of the City of New York, the Board of the St. Catherine Foundation, the Board of Trustees of St. Vladimir's Seminary, the Board of the American Bible Society, and continues to serve as co-chair of the SCOBA Joint Commission of Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Christians. Bishop Dimitrios retired from active serve in December 2007.
Bishop Dimitrios was invested in 1980 as a member of the Order of the Holy Lamb of the Orthodox Church in Finland, is listed in Who's Who in Religion 1985, and received the Alumni Citation from Holy Cross in 1990. In 2003 he received the Humanitarian Award from International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). In 2007 he received the Extraordinary Leadership Award from the New York City Council of Churches, and the Peace and Justice Award from the Rainbow Push Coalition for his participation in the delegation to Serbia resulting in the release of three American soldiers.
In 2010, the OCF Board of Directors honored His Grace with the creation of the Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos OCF Endowment Fund. If you would like to make a contribution to the fund, please click here.
We invite you to view our Bishop Dimitrios OCF Endowment Package by clicking on the following links: