At the beginning of every school year, many OCF leaders have a common goal: sharing the richness and depth of Orthodoxy with a broader community on campus. The effort is most often twofold: reaching out and attending to the Orthodox students on campus and arranging fruitful encounters with the wider, non-Orthodox campus community. Let’s take a minute to reflect on why these two measures matter:
First off, it’s been shown that college students often build habits—academic and social—within the first few weeks of their on-campus life that they carry with them throughout their time in college. Of course, every OCF chapter wants to be an integral part of those habits! Therefore, as chapter leaders, we must spend time within the first forty days of classes reaching out in whatever way possible to Orthodox students on campus. With our best hospitality, we strive to make them feel at ease and let them know that OCF is a family with always open arms, extending to them the benevolence, mercy, and love that Christ shows to us.
Secondly, an important aspect of every student’s college experience—Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike—is to explore new ways of thinking, challenge preconceptions, and come into dialogue with those who are different from us. This sort of open curiosity not only helps us grow as Orthodox Christians in our understanding of God’s creation and His people, but allows us to offer a witness to the Light and Truth of Jesus Christ and the precious gift of His holy Church. Therefore, it is vital that OCF chapters get involved in the grand conversations of the academy and the social life of the university. Every chapter will do this differently, by the means available to them and appropriate to their context, but if we are faithful to our own apostolic tradition and to the legacy of academic inquiry, OCF chapters will find ways of engaging those around them prayerfully, respectfully, and fruitfully.
Here is a document for you to download, provided for you by the 2012-2013 Student Advisory Board, with practical suggestions on how to implement a spirit of outreach in your chapter this year. If you have other ideas, comments, or questions, please feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the Orthodox-Christian-Fellowship official OCF Facebook page.
May the Holy Spirit guide us all as we go forward to do the work of our Lord Jesus Christ in the many beautiful vineyards we’ve been given by His Heavenly Father.