InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA, the national evangelical campus ministry that has been associated with the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin for over 40 years, announced that it is beginning the process of dismissing any staffers who disagree with its views about sexuality, which consider any sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage to be immoral. An email InterVarsity sent in July asked staff members who disagree with this position to identify themselves and conclude work with the ministry starting on Nov. 11, according to an October 6 article in Time. 

Rob Gregory and his wife Sim, the InterVarsity advisors to the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin—which has not been officially recognized by the College since 2014—received the email in July. Ben and Malina Pascut, who also work with Bowdoin students in the fellowship and serve as InterVarsity volunteers, did not receive the email. Ben Pascut is a research fellow at the Joseph and Alice McKeen Study Center, a nonprofit foundation created to house the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin after it moved off campus. Neither the Gregorys nor the Pascuts plan to leave InterVarsity in light of its announcement. 

InterVarsity has chapters on 667 college campuses, including each NESCAC school—though not all are officially recognized by the colleges—and employs over 1,300 staff members. Since the announcement in July, an InterVarsity Vice President and Director of Campus Engagement Greg Jao said that five or six people (from campus ministries and national offices) have opted to conclude work with the organization. 

“We expect our staff to affirm what our core beliefs are and to teach those safely,” said Jao in a phone call to the Orient. “If they disagree, we’re trusting that people will let that disagreement be known in part because we expect people who disagree wouldn’t want to be expected to teach something they disagree with and to self identify and conclude employment.”

Rob Gregory said InterVarsity’s decision will not affect how the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin operates off campus. 

“It has no bearing on the service we provide to the campus, which is opening the doors of our study center for students to come to read the scriptures, to ask questions about the order of God [and] the plan of salvation,” Rob Gregory said in a phone call to the Orient. “We’re open to all the students to come and investigate.”

Juniors Amanda Perkins and Sam Swain, two of the co-leaders of the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin, echoed this sentiment.

“I don’t think [InterVarsity’s decision] affects the way we do anything,” Perkins said. “It’s consistent with maybe our history, but it’s old news.”

The Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin has been connected with InterVarsity since the group first formed on campus in 1974. The group’s affiliation with InterVarsity and the beliefs it espouses has caused tension with the College in the past, most recently in 2014, when the Gregorys refused to sign the College’s Volunteer Agreement after stating that signing a non-discrimination policy would violate their scriptural interpretations of sexuality. The group then lost its official recognition by the College, moved off campus and founded the Joseph and Alice McKeen Study Center at 65 Harpswell Road. 

Despite this, Rob Gregory said that there has never been a point at which the group considered disassociating itself from InterVarsity or switching affiliations, mainly because InterVarsity is committed to scriptural study, unlike other campus ministries that emphasize discipleship or evangelism.

“We’ve tried very hard to maintain that relationship with InterVarsity and Bowdoin and plan to continue to do so,” he said.

“The reason we are committed to the biblical text is because it is there that we discover that the world is an ordered place, and God speaks through the prophetic word of the Old and New Testament about His order for life for us as creatures who owe our lives to the Creator,” Rob Gregory added in an email to the Orient. 

Perkins spoke to the importance of being connected to a national organization. 

“It’s really important to have contact with other Christians,” she said. “Christianity is not a local—it is a local thing in some ways, but it’s also a really big thing that you’re connected to lots of people.”

Perkins said that the most visible impact InterVarsity has on student members of the Christian Fellowship at Bowdoin is organizing retreats.

The group holds weekly bible study sessions on Wednesdays during which they read several pages of scripture and pray in accordance with the materials studied. Members gather for morning prayer during the week and on Saturdays and Ben Pascut also teaches a class on the Gospel of John.