In the early 1960's, a group of Princeton students formed the Orthodox Christan Fellowship of St. Photius on the University campus. This initial group would meet informally and would travel to nearby Orthodox parishes on Sunday mornings. An occasional service would be held on campus by visiting clergy.
September, 1964 marked the first Orthodox Liturgy held on a regular basis on the campus, with a room in Murray Dodge Hall serving as the Orthodox Chapel of the Transfiguration. Father Constantin Buketoff, recently retired from his parish in Brooklyn, served as the first pastor of the Chapel, but illness curtailed his service before the academic year ended. In August, 1965, Prof. John Turkevich (Eugene Higgins Professor of Chemistry at Princeton) was ordained and appointed Orthodox Chaplain. He served in that post for 24 years, until 1989, and passed away in March, 1998.
During our history, the Orthodox Chapel and the OCF have welcomed a host of Orthodox prelates, dignitaries and faithful from all parts of the globe. On several occasions the OCF sponsored services which filled the University Chapel to its capacity of 2,000+ . For more than a decade Father Georges Florovsky, the eminent Orthodox theologian, participated regularly in the liturgical life of the Transfiguration Chapel. Biblical scholar Georges Barrois also considered our Chapel his spiritual home. OCF sponsored lecturers and guests have included Nicholas Zernov, Father Alexander Schmemann, Father John Meyendorff, Father Thomas Hopko. Two future bishops served regularly in our Chapel during their studies at the University and PTS: the future Bishop Irineu, Vicar Bishop of Cluj, Romania, and the future Bishop Ambrose of Zelon, presently Metropolitan of Korea. Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, world-renowned Orthodox theologian at Oxford, was among the founders of our original OCF during his post-doc years at Princeton. To honor Fr. Georges Florovsky for his years at Princeton, the Chapel/OCF sponsors the Florovsky Memorial Lecture; speakers have included Bishop Kallistos, Prof. Jaroslav Pelikan, Prof. Oleg Grabar, Prof. Peter Brown, and iconographer Vladislav Andrejev. (The 2010 Florovsky lecturer is scheduled to be Bishop Michael.)
Transfiguration Chapel serves not only the Princeton OCF undergraduates and graduate students, but also local Orthodox faculty and townsfolk, including members of Princeton Theological Seminary, the Institute for Advanced Study, Westminster Choir College, Rider University, and TCNJ. The congregation has included members from various Orthodox jurisdictions: Albanian, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Coptic, Georgian, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian and the Orthodox Church in America. The Sunday Divine Liturgy, celebrated each week at 10:00 a.m. during the academic year, is served almost entirely in English, with responses sung by a four-part choir. Aside from Sunday Liturgies, services are held at Christmas, the Eve of Epiphany (with the Great Blessing of Water), Wednesdays of Great Lent, Holy Week and Pascha.
The present Orthodox Chaplain, Father Daniel Skvir '66, one of the founders of the Princeton OCF and Chapel, has served in that capacity since January, 1989. He is assisted by Protodeacon Michael Sochka. In addition to Bishop Kallistos, two other founders have entered the priesthood: the Very Rev. Arthur Liolin (Chancellor of the Albanian Diocese of the OCA) and Rev. Anatole Lyovin, a ROCOR priest in Hawaii. Other ordained Princeton alumni include Fr. Gregory Winsky, Deacon Joseph Carter, Father Iosif Bena, and Father Kevin Kalish. Princeton OCF graduates Constance Charnas '84 (Sister TheodotI) and Maria Natsis '84 (Sister Antonina)are tonsured Orthodox nuns.
Orthodox Christian Fellowship meetings are held regularly on campus, the dates and times subject to students' academic schedules. Gatherings include services, Biblical and theological discussion groups, lectures, community service programs and social opportunities such as dinners and campus sporting events. Programs have included mini-retreats at various Orthodox monasteries and OCF retreats on and off campus. Our group has offered financial support for members participating in Real Breaks and summer programs of the OCMC. The Chapel/Fellowship also sponsors the Father John Turkevich Memorial Scholarship, awarded to students who have shown particular zeal in their work for the Orthodox community.