01 January 2008

Seek First the Kingdom

Yesterday I returned from the OCF College Conference in Dunlap, CA. The theme was "Seek First the Kingdom..." and focused on what it means to fulfill or live out your vocation as a Christian in the world. Often, we think of vocation as being specifically linked to priestly ordination or monastic living, but each of us has a vocation as a Christian to be light and salt - to preach the Gospel with our words and actions. We fulfill that vocation each in different ways, but we all have the same calling.

The keynote speaker for the weekend was Fr. Chad Hatfield, the Chancellor of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary missional. He used three American saints - St. Herman, St. Innoc. On the last day, his topic was the Orthodox Church asent, and St. Tikhon - as examples of how the American continent has been evangelized. There is a fourth paradigm of evangelization, of which my generation is the figurehead. The spread of the Gospel in America and the growth of the Orthodox Church in America is a responsibility of each of us, and my generation, with God's aid, can bring America to the Orthodox Faith. Our generation is unique, in that there are a whole lot of young adults who are 'cradle' Orthodox Christians in convert families--they are red-blooded Americans who have been Orthodox Christians their whole lives, with no familial ties to Orthodox 'old countries.' There are also many people my age converting to the Orthodox faith from other Christian confessions, especially students at evangelical universities. OCF as a national organization has done well in keeping ethnically Orthodox students within the fold of the Church. When I see people my age who are ethnically Orthodox and also serious about being Christians, I am encouraged because the Gospel is for everyone, regardless of what kind of ethnic or religious background our family has, and they see that I can be an Orthodox Christian even though I am American.

Another awesome part of the conference was the close proximity to the Monastery of the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring, which was literally just a short walk up the road. The abbess, Mother Markella, is a beautiful soul who has some real spiritual insight. The monastery is beautiful (for the most part) and provided an atmosphere conducive to spiritual growth and rejuvenation.

There is so much to say, but not enough time or space to say it, so I will leave it at that. Here are some pictures that I took of the conference.

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