Orthodox Christian Fellowship strives to build presence, provide community

Baylor Orthodox Christian Fellowship strives to be a welcoming community. Photo courtesy of Baylor Orthodox Christian Fellowship

By Rachel Chiang | Reporter

Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF) at Baylor is one of two Orthodox student organizations on campus. According to Sacramento, Ca., junior Josefine Green, OCF is a place for Orthodox Christian students to get together and talk about the Bible, providing a safe space for the small community of those students on campus.

“Since it is such a small religion, we are all very connected,” Green said. “We provide them with a place to get to know people like them, because again, since we’re so small, it’s hard to find students who believe the same things you do, who share the same practices and everything like that.”

McGregor junior and OCF president Samuel Dutschmann said OCF has helped improve his experiences as an Orthodox Christian.

“A lot of Baylor’s campus at times can actually be unfriendly,” Dutschmann said. “I’ve had some unfriendly things said to me from both faculty and students. So, you know, it’s good to have a safe space where you can actually be Orthodox without any sense of ridicule and feel like you actually belong.”

Dutschmann said misconceptions about Orthodoxy exist because of the small size of the Orthodox community in the United States, although it is one of the largest Christian communities in the world.

“There hasn’t been a big opportunity for us to come to the United States in a way that other Christian groups have,” Dutschmann said. “So that’s why we have a small presence. Ignorance can stew hatred or ways of viewing someone as just a complete other. And it’s even beyond that — some people just don’t care to learn.”

Green said her experiences haven’t been difficult.

“It’s just a lot of curiosity from other people, like a lot of Jewish mistakes, a lot of stuff like that,” Green said. “It’s less animosity and more just knowing what we’re about.”

Dutschmann said OCF tables at every major organization and church fair on campus to welcome others and answer questions.

“I hope to expose Christians, or I suppose really anyone, to Orthodoxy,” Dutschmann said. “We’re very inviting. We just want to share the truth of the Gospel and the church Christ founded. And so any way we can get people plugged into that — whether that’s, ‘I just want to visit this one Sunday, and that’s it’; ‘OK, come on.’ ‘I just want to get a coffee with you, Sam, and talk about Orthodoxy’; ‘OK, sure.’ ‘Sam, I’m writing a paper for Christian Heritage, do you want to talk about Orthodoxy?’; ‘Yeah, of course.”

Dutschmann said he encourages anyone who’s curious to come to their church services or contact him to ask questions.

“Getting a presence for Orthodoxy on campus is the goal,” Dutschmann said. “And however people receive that, that’s between them and God. Come and see. Come see what our service is like. Come see what we’re like. We’re not crazy people; we’re just living the good Christian life. You’ll be shocked by what you will find.”