When we think of stewardship and giving back to the Church, our mind naturally goes to money. It’s really no secret that as college students we have no money. That’s why we love going home so much: free food and free laundry (and to see dear old Mom and Dad, of course). When I put my sole crumpled dollar bill into the tray on Sunday mornings, I joke that we actually are following the Church’s suggestion donation to tithe 10% of your income. Just because I don’t have a lot of money to donate to the Church doesn’t mean I can’t be an Orthodox steward. I give back to the church in two other ways – with time and talents.
In college, time is almost as precious as money. But it is one thing we can give freely. Being on the SLB is a lot of work – and requires a lot of time. Time spent organizing retreats, writing blogs, recording podcasts, scheduling speakers for College Conference or planning Real Break trips, and calling parishes and youth directors to talk to about OCF. And conference calls, we spend a lot of time on conference calls. But working on my OCF stuff never feels like work. I usually do whatever I have to do for OCF before any other homework, because I can still tell myself I’m being productive.
My schedule is busy; every college student’s schedule is busy. Dedicate some time to give back to the church through working for this awesome ministry. In my time as Publications Student Leader, I’ve written blogs that have reached thousands of people, worked with and met leaders of the Church, and even been interviewed on Ancient Faith Radio. His Grace Bishop Gregory of Nyssa always tells us that we are not the future of the Church, we are the Church. Never have I felt more a part of the Church than I have while serving on the SLB.
As an English major, the Publications Student Leader position made the most sense for me. Publications gave me the chance to take my God-given abilities and strengths and use them to serve Him. Serving on the SLB isn’t just for people with concrete skills like writing, but for people who have a passion for OCF, a drive to improve, new ideas, leadership qualities, and most importantly a love for Christ. And being on the on the Board has helped me harness all of those skills.
As Orthodox Christians, we are called to serve God and our neighbor. Apply to the Student Leadership Board not only to give of your time and talents to God and His Church but to your fellow Orthodox Christian college students. Use what God has blessed you with to strengthen this ministry, to grow as a young leader of the Orthodox Church, and to make incredible lasting friendships. OCF gave me a place of comfort during my first year of college and some of my very best friends (both at my school’s chapter and on this year’s SLB). It’s taught me so much about the faith and myself as person, all while helping me become a better Christian. I can’t wait to spend another year on the SLB working for OCF, the Church, Christ, and young Orthodox Christians everywhere.
Applications due back April 6th.
I’d love to say that my decision to apply for the SLB was motivated by some divine intervention, that St. Katherine appeared to me in a dream or that the Holy Spirit forwarded the application directly to my inbox. In actuality, my journey to the SLB was more a fortuitous combination of unintentionally joining the OCF email list, a little spontaneous decision making, and a lot of passion for OCF. This past year on the SLB has provided me with some of the best friends and experiences of my young life. Most importantly, it has brought me closer to Christ in a way I never expected.
I applied for the SLB as a wide eyed freshman with one short year of chapter experience under my belt. I had attended College Conference East that winter, and it opened my eyes to the expansive world of OCF outside of my eight person chapter in Omaha, Nebraska. At College Conference, praying alongside hundreds of students more similar to myself than anyone at my university, I knew I was where I belonged. I wasn’t about to let any opportunity to feel that love again, to feel such oneness with Christ and with my fellow Orthodox Christians, slip through my fingers. I submitted my application with a hopeful heart.
Three months later I found myself boarding a plane to New York, heading to SLI to train for the newly-minted position of Midwest Regional Student Leader. For the duration of SLI, I found myself constantly marveling at my fellow members of the board. These were people I was not only blessed to have as friends, but incredible Orthodox Christians who inspired me to grow in my own relationship with Christ. I remember keeping a note open on my phone throughout the week, constantly jotting down book titles referenced during group discussions or small pieces of wisdom shared at the dinner table. This became a theme throughout my entire experience on the SLB. The love of Christ pervades every text, every conference call, and every email shared among the board. The members of the SLB have come to occupy a very special place in my heart, and I can confidently say that I would not be the Orthodox Christian I am today without these incredible people.
I returned from SLI with more than just a longer to-do list and thorough understanding of the OCF Google Drive. I developed a deep rooted sense of responsibility for OCF on a national level, and a drive to share this amazing community with others. Most importantly, my time on the SLB instilled in me a newfound faith in the Orthodox spirit. I’ve worked throughout the year planning retreats and working with chapters new and old across the Midwest. Every interaction strengthens my conviction that OCF is the single most important aspect of my college experience. I do not have a doubt in my mind that the SLB entered my life by the grace of God, and I consider myself blessed every day to work with this remarkable group of people.
As Father Pedro Arrupe, S.J. once said:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is than falling in love in a quite absolute final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how your spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
I invite you to apply to the SLB, and to fall in love with the ministry that has my heart. And in this, let all you do be for the Glory of God.
Nicole Petrow is a sophomore studying Classical & Near Eastern Civilizations and Classical Languages at Creighton University. She currently serves as the Midwest Regional Student Leader on the Student Leadership Board. She loves dusty bookstores, cozy coffee shops and convincing her parents that someday she’ll be able to find a job with a Classics degree.
Strangers from distant lands, friends of old, you have been summoned to answer to the threat of Mordor. Middle-Earth stands on the brink of destruction. None can escape it. You will unite or you will fall.
The chairman of the OCF Student Advisory Board began our first meeting with those words… or something like that. The year was 2011. I was a junior at WVU studying electrical engineering. During the College Conference of 2010, a bug was placed in my ear to apply to the Student Advisory Board (SAB) as the Regional Representative of the Mid-Atlantic Region. The bug succeeded in making me think it was my idea, and so I applied and was offered the position.
Obviously, I saw the opportunity to add another impressive line to my resume, but beyond that (and also more importantly), I was blessed to meet and work with other young leaders in the OCF community. My job was fairly simple. There existed a database with all the known OCF chapters in North America. This list includes student leaders, clerical and layperson advisers contact information. ‘Twas a truly legendary list. It was up to me to keep all the information for the Mid-Atlantic Region up-to-date throughout the year and to spend time organizing regional retreats in between the bigger College Conferences.
Now, excuse me while I reflect on what you, the reader, are probably thinking. “That sounds like a lot of work for a student to undertake while trying to be a boss electrical engineer, whilst simultaneously channeling the spirits of Michael Faraday, Nikola Tesla, and Emperor Palpatine, all of which had an affinity for the manipulation of electrons. Oh, and also playing the violin” Yes, I’m sure you were thinking all of that. But here’s the thing, it might sound crazy, but it was a great break from the purely technical aspect of my engineering degree. Also, working on the SAB offered me a chance to visit places I had never been before. I traveled to Denver, Boston, and Baltimore, all for the first time on official OCF business. Official!
And, I got to work with the other members of the board. Imagine a group of young, passionate Orthodox college students who love people and serving others. Now, take that group and diversify it over jurisdiction, ethnicity, and gender and there’s a beautiful SAB. I know a few of the current SLB members personally (they changed the name from SAB to SLB. Long story.), and I can say that the gang is still the cream of the crop. In addition to friends, I gained valuable organizational, leadership, delegation, coloring, and karate skills. Because that’s what the ladies want. Skills.
Here I am, five years later…I lost my train of thought because I realized it’s been five years. I originally typed three years ago and had to walk away from typing this for a week, because I was in shock. Anyway, shock is over. Five years later, I’m working as an engineer for a great company, I’ve got some of the spunkiest roommates, and my friends are finer than all the treasures under the mountain in Erebor. I thank God for all that He has blessed me with, and especially my days as an ‘OCFer’.
Basil Dixon is a freelance writer for the OCF from Huntington, WV, currently residing in Pittsburgh’s own Little Italy, Bloomfield. After graduating from West Virginia University in 2013 with a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering, he began his career working for Rolls-Royce where he consults electrical utilities regarding the various aspects of maintaining nuclear power plants. Basil’s other interests include post-liturgical Sunday brunch, singing in the two choirs at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral, all the stereotypical nerd movies and books (especially Star Wars), and plotting the domination of Western Pennsylvania with his truly exceptional friends and allies.