To the Editor:

I write regarding the recent controversy about Bowdoin Christian Fellowship to encourage the Bowdoin community to evaluate the Dean’s action. 

According to Ernst Helmreich’s “Religion at Bowdoin College” (1981), the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship (BCF) began meeting in Moulton Union in 1974. Led by a staff worker affiliated with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), a national organization, BCF has met from 1974 to the present day as an officially recognized chapter of IVCF. IVCF has provided chaplains to BCF at no charge to the College. This 40-year, mutually beneficial relationship should not be blithely tossed aside. 

I personally benefited greatly from IVCF’s work; I know numerous students, Christian and non-Christian alike, who received hours of counseling, support, and encouragement from IVCF staff. Bowdoin is a challenging school with limited spiritual resources. The College should not divest itself of the vital presence of IVCF.

Inter-Varsity has chapters at nearly every top college and university in America: four chapters at Yale, six at Duke, 11 at Harvard, three at Stanford, six at Columbia, and seven at Berkeley—to say nothing of the chapters at Middlebury, Amherst, and Swarthmore. All of these schools have strong commitments to tolerance and diversity, and each has made a place at the table for an IVCF chapter.  If Harvard has 11 flourishing IVCF chapters, can Bowdoin’s expressed commitment to pluralism not bear the weight of one?   

Bowdoin welcomes other student organizations affiliated with national organizations, including the Amnesty International Club and Bowdoin Hillel. There is nothing strange or nefarious about BCF’s status as a chapter.

Sincerely, Dr. Owen D. Strachan ’03 
Assistant Professor of Church History at Boyce College