Under the auspices of the Orthodox Campus Commission of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), hundreds of Orthodox young adults from throughout North America gathered at this year’s OCF College Conferences.
Held on December 27-31, 2001 in Ligonier, PA and Dunlap, CA, this year marked the first time that a conference was held on both coasts. “It was becoming very clear that there are many college students from the western part of the US who would be more likely to attend a conference if it was closer to them,” said Fr Michael Nasser, Chairman of the Orthodox Campus Commission.
Both conferences focused on the same theme, “Who’s the Boss?”, and followed similar schedules. His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Archdiocese, a founding member of Syndesmos: the World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth, gave the keynote address on the east coast. Fr Jon Braun of the Antiochian Archdiocese, known for his involvement with the Campus Crusade for Christ prior to his conversion to the Orthodox Faith with thousands of members of the Evangelical Orthodox Church, gave the keynote address on the west coast. In addition, a number of speakers from the various Orthodox jurisdictions led smaller workshops on topics ranging from “War and Violence” to “Love Orthodox Style,” and “Discrimination against the Arab Community” to “The Body as His Temple.” Each day participants gathered to worship at matins, vespers, and compline. Divine Liturgy was celebrated on Sunday. Fun activities included football in the snow, a creative scavenger hunt called “Orthodox Olympics,” a “Christmas Coffee House,” an Orthodox version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” singing at bonfires, and the “New Year’s Eve” dances on the last night.
“It was one of the best organized and most spiritually uplifting thing I have ever gone to,” remarked a speaker from the east coast conference. “I can’t tell you how incredible it is to be with so many people my own age who share my faith,” remarked a west coast attendee. “I can’t believe I have to go home where, as far as I know, there are only two Orthodox young adults in the entire state!” “The church services were overwhelming,” recalls another participant at the east coast conference. “It was incredible that every church service was packed with everyone participating.”
According to Fr Michael Anderson, Secretary of the Campus Commission and speaker at the west coast conference, “Expanding the conferences was one of our first priorities when SCOBA reactivated the Campus Commission and officially adopted the OCF movement. It’s wonderful to know that the national OCF movement is growing and gathering more students on more college campuses every year. It is also a challenge to the Commission and the entire Church in North America to take the spiritual needs of our young adults seriously.”
Harkening back to his days at the beginning of Syndesmos and responding to the number of participants from all the Orthodox jurisdictions that participated in the conferences, His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios strongly urged participants to make OCF a truly pan-Orthodox movement of young adults and not just another “nice gathering.”
At present there are now close to 200 OCFs on College and University Campuses throughout North America. For more pictures from the Conferences, go to http://yya.oca.org. If you are interested in more information on the national OCF movement, check out www.ocf.net.