For ten days in February OCMS was blessed by hosting 16 post-graduate students and their professor from the Orthodox Theology faculty of Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași, Romania. Professor Dan Sandu, a contact of Mark Oxbrow for the past 30 years, requested the visit because of his concern that his students, who, having grown up in a majority Orthodox and practicing Christian society, face future ministries in an increasingly secular and unbelieving Romania. After two days of induction at OCMS during which they joined the faculty in discussing contemporary mission issues, the students split into three groups to visit churches, community projects and academic institutions in Durham, Cambridge and Oxford.
In each city students engaged in discussions about mission in secular society and how the gospel can be presented in ways that connect with people who have no previous connection with the Church. The Oxford group returned to Romania wanting to explore how programmes such as “Open the Book” can enliven schools ministry and how “Messy Church” can provide a bridge towards faith for young families. They had more difficult questions about how a church might run a boxing club when theology teaches us that each human being reflects in their flesh the image of God!
As they complete their post-graduate studies these students will move on to serve their communities as Orthodox priests, monks (and potentially bishops), teachers, doctors and musicians. As they left they challenged OCMS to take more seriously the mission potential of music and the arts.