“advise… the young as brothers” (1 Timothy 5:1)
OCF Sunday - September 21, 2003
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Venerable Monastics and The Devout Faithful of our Holy Orthodox Churches
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
From the days of the Apostles until now, the followers of Christ have experienced the life of faith in the context of community. By its very definition, the Church is a community; and not at all a mere collection of individuals who share a common set of beliefs. It is also a community beyond geographical or time limitations.
Today, as we gather in the nearly 2,000 parishes of our SCOBA jurisdictions to celebrate the Lord’s Day, we pause to offer support and encouragement to the approximately 40,000 Orthodox college students currently studying on North American campuses, who are members of our communities although they may live miles away from them. Our college students are blessed with unprecedented educational opportunities, but, at the same time, they face many difficult challenges in the extremely secular environment of the college campus. They are barraged with the contradictory views of a variety of religious, philosophical, and atheistic teachings, and with a pervasive relativism that challenges their faith. To add to the confusion offered in the class-room, the self-indulgent culture of most of our campuses is guided blindly by an appalling absence of morals. For many years, unfortunately, we have not paid attention to the fact that thousands of our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren left our loving homes and parishes to go off to receive their education in this environment.
We, the hierarchs of the Standing Conference, invite you to join us in a rededicated effort to min-ister to our college students, and to advise them as brothers as St. Paul says. It has been over 30 years since a viable national ministry to our college students was maintained. This year, we have commissioned a full time staff to establish an Orthodox presence on our college campuses. The mission of Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) is to ensure that every Orthodox Christian college student stays connected with the Church during these crucial, challenging college years.
We call upon our priests to dedicate themselves to the all-important work of outreach on campus. We call upon our parishes to support the work of OCF, and we encourage all dedicated parents, godparents and grandparents of college students to make their young people aware of the oppor-tunities offered by OCF and its programs. We stand firmly alongside our college students, and encourage them to maintain their faith, in the face of any challenge that comes their way.
We hereby request that this day, the Sunday following the Elevation of the Holy Cross, be observed annually in all our parishes as Orthodox Christian College Student Sunday. As the new ecclesiastical year gets underway, may we all begin a new effort, working together as a commu-nity to support the ministry of OCF and all college students who are members of our Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
May the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior be with all of you.
+Archbishop DEMETRIOS, Chairman
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Orthodox Church in America
+Metropolitan PHILIP, Vice Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America and Canada
+Metropolitan CHRISTOPHER, Secretary
Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada
Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church
+Metropolitan NICHOLAS OF Amissos
American Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA
Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA
Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America