Freshman mechanical engineering major Elias Anderson felt there was a need to create a space for Orthodox Christians on Valpo’s campus. The Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization with chapters at colleges nationwide, has officially kicked off their start of their club.
“It’s a club about giving people a place to learn about Orthodoxy, [and] for students who are Orthodox to practice their faith and to learn more about it,” Anderson said. Although the group has had meetings throughout the semester, they were officially approved by the student senate a few weeks ago. There are currently about ten members, with five of them on the executive board. But Anderson is aware of many more students who want to be involved.
The OCF emphasizes four pillars that the group should embody: education, fellowship, faith, and service. These align with Orthodox values.
Anderson acknowledged that many people don’t know what Orthodoxy is, and offered a description.
“Orthodoxy is the oldest Christian church, so the faith’s been around since the apostles...so the services have been pretty much the same for the past thousand or so years. They’re a lot different [from campus services],” Anderson said.
The difference between a contemporary protestant service and the Orthodox services is distinct. Anderson wants to give the Valpo community the chance to experience and celebrate this difference.
“We want to have an orthodox church service on campus, because the Chapel’s active every day, but there’s not a chance for an orthodox [experience] so we wanted people to be able to see what that’s like.”
Local parishes and priests have expressed interest in helping out.
“It fills a gap that isn’t here on campus. I want a place where I can continue to learn about my faith and share it with everyone else. I know that a lot of kids, one of my friends who’s in it now, but he just wanted to join it to be with other Orthodox people,” Anderson said.
Anderson has plenty of goals to expand the OCF, starting by taking the group to a new level.
“It’s been on campus before, it just wasn’t recognized, I don’t think anybody knew about it, except for a few people. I’m definitely going to change that,” Anderson said. “For the future, I would want biweekly meetings that range from a discussion...a fellowship event to have fun with other people, and a service project.”
Other ideas include sponsoring a Christmas dinner for a local family, or doing liturgy on the street, which involves having conversations and food with homeless individuals. Next semester, the OCF is working to have a Q&A session on what exactly Orthodoxy is.
“My faith is strong. I’ve grown up in the church my whole life. That’s where I made some of my closest friends because we have that in common; cause we want to try and live our lives the same way. And I want to try to continue that in college and help others see what it’s like.”
On December 8th at 7 pm, the OCF will be holding a worship service in the Chapel. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.