Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
The position of Executive Director of Orthodox Christian Fellowship (OCF), an Assembly of Bishops Agency that focuses on the needs of Orthodox Christian College students, has been eliminated which terminates the work of the present director. Why? A copy of the director’s letter to the Board dated June 13 indicates a disagreement with the accounting principles employed by the Board of Directors. OCF has issued a statement regarding the departure of the Executive Director. The Agency does not have the funds to do its job. It could not meet payroll. The Board wanted to use funds donated for a specific program, Real Break, and transfer them to meet payroll. The Executive Director objected, because the funds were donated and designated for the specific purpose of Real Break and not for operating expenses.
During the last fifteen years, OCF has had four different locations. It has had at least four different executive directors. The dedicated staff has helped it stay together. Finally, a trained and competent individual with a vision, with management skills, with fundraising skills, who had specific training in nonprofit management, was hired but then let go, because that individual was trying to make the program work.
Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) has been involved with campus ministry for some 15 years. Father Peter Gillquist of blessed memory, who served on the OCL Advisory Board, brought this ministry to our attention. The OCL Board has funded scholarships to the Real Break program, provided a $15,000 grant to OCF St John College, Maryland to coordinate OCF at Annapolis, St John’s and the University of Maryland. It hosted two workshops to help establish OCF on college campuses. One such program was held at Drexel University which included students from the area. The good practices of Real Break at Rutgers University were highlighted. The then chairman of the OCF board wrote an e mail to students in the area not to attend, because he said OCL is not an authorized agency.
The most successful OCF program is in the Cleveland area. Two OCL board members were the driving force in establishing and funding this program which coordinates programs on four campuses with a hired staff. Now area churches provide funding for the program. It is a model of good practices for the national OCF Program.
The present difficulties are an opportunity for all of us who are concerned about the future of the Orthodox Church and the retention of our children to raise some questions. Who has accounting oversight responsibilities with the work of the Assembly Agencies? Why are not the various youth committees within the different Orthodox jurisdictions consolidated to avoid duplication and to more economically utilize the stewardship resources donated by the laity? What do the various jurisdictions contribute to the work of the youth ministries? Should there be a more open process in selecting board members who serve on the agency boards? What can we as parents of college students, OCF alumni, concerned Orthodox Christians, do to assist OCF be a more transparent and accountable agency? How does the work of the Assembly of Bishops overcome ethnic concerns to make the agencies truly Pan-Orthodox, meeting the spiritual needs of the faithful they are organized to serve?
OCL Executive Director