Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! It's snowing pretty hard as I'm writing this.

From the OCF Student Newsletter:

Dear OCFers,

Greetings in the Feast!

On behalf of OCF I wanted to wish you all a blessed Nativity and a peaceful holiday season. I know that many of you have just completed very difficult semesters or have left a stressful work environment. I pray that together we may all truly be at peace during this season, existing in the simplicity and joy the Incarnate Christ!

We have a few things to share with you this time around, but we mostly wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

See you next 2008!

in Christ,
Mike Tishel, Editor
OCF Headliner

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Have a great break!

Tomorrow is the last day of finals at UNC. I managed to get done today, and I know a bunch of people are already done.

Hopefully exams and final projects weren't too stressful for everyone. Have a safe and enjoyable break.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy St. Nicholas Day

Today is St. Nicholas day. From OrthodoxWiki:

Our father among the saints Nicholas of Myra, Wonder-worker, was the archbishop of Myra in southern Asia Minor in the fourth century. While widely honored and venerated, not only in the Orthodox Church, but throughout most Christian groups, little is known historically of the life of Nicholas. He is known to have been archbishop of Myra and he may have participated in the Council of Nicaea in 325. In addition to being honored as the patron saint of many countries, notably Greece and Russia, and of cities, he is the patron of many occupational groups, most notably of sea-farers. St Nicholas is commemorated by the Church on December 6, and also on May 9 (The transfer of his relics) and on July 29 (his nativity).

My church back home is named St. Nicholas, and they always have a celebration. Pictures coming soon.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Fun church activities

I have enjoyed many of the activities that my church back home has done. Back in high school, we'd go on beach trips, Airsoft/paintball, and other general mayhem. The girls tried to talk us into salsa dancing. We had this one thing on Good Friday where after the service, we'd set up sleeping bags in the community building's dining area and rotate turns in a vigil, reading passages into the morning where people coming for the Holy Saturday services would then take over. It was a good bonding experience and one of my favorite memories from my youth group days.

Over last summer, some of us that were still in town before everyone started heading back to college or work went on a mountain hiking trip in the Mt. Hood wilderness area.

Gearing up

Chilling out by this one lake we found

Climbing up

Group picture at the summit

These squirrels are seriously not afraid of anything. If you put your gear down, they will try to look for food in it

But the thing that I liked best is an annual ski trip up to Mt. Hood in the winter. One family at our parish is part of a co-op lodge on the mountain, and we crash there for three days during ski season.

What are some of the activities that you have enjoyed at your churches? Leave comments; this should be interesting since everyone has their own background.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving Weekend.

As I write this I am in an apartment in Harlem with one of my friends from my church back home who lives in NYC now. It's good times.

Thanksgiving service: http://www.antiochian.org/awe/services/Thanksgiving


Friday, November 9, 2007

OCF Newsletter

If you're interested on what OCF is doing at the national level, sign up for their newsletter at www.ocf.net. Michelle Torski told me about it, and it's legit.

They also linked to one of our own articles about the Diakonia retreat. Check it out.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Feature Story: An interview with John Stonestreet

You’ve all seen him at the meetings around campus. He’s the face of OCF and the OCF-NC Blog had an interview with UNC Class of 2000 alumnus John Stonestreet.

John is the first official, full-time OCF chaplain—ever. As so, there was no instruction manual for his job.

“It’s like being Davy Crockett,” John said. “It’s kind of uncharted territory.”

OCF is a full time job for John. His salary, his health benefits, and the money for the free pizza at meetings come entirely from sponsors and fundraisers organized by him. Outside of meetings, John organizes and promotes OCF events. He meets with students for lunch or coffee.

And, he plans the future of OCF.

“Every day is a new and exciting adventure and a new challenge. Challenges are fundraising, developing relations with universities, developing relations with other campus ministries and religious groups, professors, students, parents, and clergy across the state. There are a lot of relationships to really foster.”

He said that a long-term goal of his is for having a dedicated Orthodox worship and fellowship facility on each campus in the Triangle region—similar to the Newman Center (Catholic)—with a chaplain for each campus and a regional training center.

“The North Carolina Triangle will be a model for the rest of the country for the fact that it can be done.”

For John, college ministry has personal meaning.

“I lost my faith in college at UNC. I grew up as an Evangelical Protestant and became disillusioned with my faith in college.”

He said that he rediscovered his faith in the Orthodox Church, but not until after college when he first learned about Orthodoxy.

“I was sad that I spent time in college looking for faith but didn’t find Orthodoxy.”

John wants students to have an Orthodox presence on campus.

“I felt called to campus ministry, so I enrolled in St. Vladimir’s seminary. The summer before going to St. Vlads, I flew up to Boston to and met with the leaders of the OCF national office and said I feel called to full-time on-campus ministry.”

But back then, such a thing didn’t exist.

That was why he went to seminary. After he graduated, he got back in touch with the OCF national office, and it turned out that some other people were interested in full-time college ministry—and they were from North Carolina.

Rosanne Niforos started UNC’s chapter in the 2005-06 school year as a freshman. John came on the year later. Alex Andreev started Duke’s chapter. NC State had an operational chapter for a while.

“I think that students from diverse backgrounds have gotten to know each other and come to appreciate each other, and to realize that there are so many beautiful cultures in Orthodoxy.”

“What a lot of Orthodox students have in common is they have a culture that is different from students on campus. It helps people to see what they have in common.”

“I think it’s easy in college to forget that you’re Orthodox because nobody knows what it is.”

John said that he cannot predict what exactly the state of OCF will be in 5 years since there is a great deal of unknowns, but he is working for his long-term goal of a dedicated OCF facility on each campus.

When John was in college, Facebook and digital audio players didn’t exist, and cell phones were a luxury item.

“People walked around and talked to each other.” Strange but true.

The UNC men’s basketball team went to the Final Four three out of four years when John was in school. He won a contest from HoopsTV.com that paid him to go to the Final Four in Indianapolis.

John was a rhetoric major and part of the UNC public policy debate team.

“It was great to be at UNC.”

John had a “big fat Greek wedding” and is married to Anastasia Stonestreet.

John made it onto a sound bite of the Paul Harvey radio show when he was born on February 27 at 3:55 AM, because his older sister was born at the exact same time and date in a different year.