OCF’s Purpose, Vision, and Mission

OCF’s Constitutional Purpose is to glorify God by uniting Christian officers for Biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.

OCF’s Vision is the military community positively impacted through Christ-like leaders. Our Mission is to engage military leaders in Biblical fellowship and growth to equip them for Christ-like service at the intersection of faith, family, and profession.

1851: Northwest Frontier of India

Cut off from friends, family, and fellowship, British Army Captain John Trotter experiences the loneliness of his isolated outpost as well as a hunger for sharing his Christian faith and praying with other like-minded officers and men. Upon returning to England, Trotter sent letters to a number of officers and other ranks, inviting them to join in organizing an “Army Prayer Union for Officers and Men,” with the hope of engaging in prayer and building strong fellowship in an informal, lay-led setting.

It wasn’t until the late 1930s that the seeds of Captain Trotter’s prayer union would make it to America. While aboard a ship bound for Palestine, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Hayes A. Kroner, who had been under deep conviction by the Holy Spirit during the voyage, met a British brigadier who was a member of the British Officers’ Christian Union. Over time, Kroner felt compelled to establish an Officers’ Christian Union in the United States, and in 1939, he returned to the U.S. with the encouragement of the British OCU to start an American OCU.

Kroner led a small Washington, D.C.-based Bible study for a few years, and in 1943 he and others formally established the American OCU. In 1972, under the direction of Executive Director Paul Pettijohn, the Officers’ Christian Union was renamed Officers’ Christian Fellowship. However, the purpose of OCF hasn’t changed—OCF exists to glorify God by uniting Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach, equipping and encouraging them to minister effectively in the military society.

Captain Trotter’s longing for fellowship more than 170 years ago continues to be satisfied through local OCF fellowship groups today.

The Need

OCF seeks to help Christians in the military society and their families grow together in their relationship with God and others, and to unite them in biblical fellowship and outreach, and encourage each other through prayer.

How OCF Fills The Need

OCF fills this need for biblical fellowship and prayer in five key ways: Prayer, Small Group Local Fellowship and Outreach, Leadership, Conference Center Ministry, and Publications.

Our Spiritual Pillars

These Spiritual Pillars express the distinctive characteristics of our Fellowship. They are the “thrust lines” we use to test the appropriateness of all of our programs and actions. They guide us as we seek to act in obedience to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in all our ministries. He is the cornerstone of OCF, and His Word is the source of these declarations.

We affirm the Bible as the very word of God, God’s revelation of Himself. The Bible is studied by OCF members and participants that all might know what to believe, obey, and embrace as true.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We gather in Biblical fellowship wherever men and women come together through their common faith in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. This union of believers results in good works benefiting the entire military community.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

We join in personal and corporate prayer, dependent on the Holy Spirit and obedient to God’s command to pray.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).

We are a body of Christian officers serving, or who have served, within the U.S. Armed Forces. OCF’s membership also includes non-officers, civilian and military, who are committed to OCF’s work. Our ministry is accomplished through volunteers who are supported by a limited number of staff.

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13-17).

We believe that Christian integrity requires professional excellence coupled with Christ-like attitudes, words, and actions.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him… Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:17, 23-24).

We are Biblically called to serve as one family, a Christian family made up of singles, couples, and children—all who have been adopted by our Father in heaven. We encourage, build up, and help develop family relationships that glorify God.

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:33-6:4).

We equip members to be those who spend, and are spent, for the good of the entire military society.

“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

We encourage OCF members to know their chaplain(s), serve as volunteers, be the hands and feet of spiritual resiliency within the military community, and champion the roles of the chaplaincy.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

What We Believe

  • We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe that the Old and New Testaments as originally written are the verbally inspired Word of God, and accept them as the supreme and all-sufficient authority in faith and life.
  • We believe that man was created in the image of God, but that he sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death, but also spiritual death which is eternal separation from God; and that each human being is born with a sinful nature and cannot by his own efforts please God.
  • We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary and is true God and true man.
  • We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins as our vicarious sacrifice in accordance with the Scripture, and that all who believe in Him are cleansed of their sins by His shed blood and are justified before God.
  • We believe that all who by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and so become the children of God, to live with Him through all eternity.
  • We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there as our High Priest and Advocate.
  • We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust; the eternal blessedness of the saved; and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost.
  • We believe in the personal, visible and glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth.

Our 8 Spiritual Pillars

These Spiritual Pillars express the distinctive characteristics of our Fellowship. They are the “thrust lines” we use to test the appropriateness of all of our programs and actions. They guide us as we seek to act in obedience to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in all our ministries. He is the cornerstone of OCF, and His Word is the source of these declarations.

1. Centering on Scripture. We believe the Bible is God’s Word written and stress the importance of studying and applying its teachings both individually and corporately. The Scriptures are the authority for our faith and conduct. Since 1943, thousands of individuals have committed their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ through the witness of OCF people, and tens of thousands more have been equipped and encouraged to integrate their faith into their personal, family, and professional relationships and duties.

2. Uniting for Fellowship. We consider authentic biblical fellowship essential for individual growth and the advancement of God’s Kingdom within the military. This fellowship occurs in many contexts: one-on-one, in small groups, as part of a local conference, or at OCF’s conference centers. As a relational ministry, we believe the inevitable outgrowth of such deep and meaningful fellowship with the Lord Jesus and with one another will be visible, dynamic works of service and witness that glorify Him.

3. Engaging in Prayer. We recognize our dependence on the Holy Spirit and are committed to pray. From its inception, OCF has emphasized the importance of praying members and of local fellowships that recognize their dependence upon prayer. OCF people must draw near to God day by day so that His Spirit will provide the qualities of heart, mind, and spirit they need to accomplish His work through them in the armed forces. The biblical principle of “Pray, Discover, and Obey” is central to this process.

4. Lay-led. We are a lay-led movement of Christian officers within the U.S. Armed Forces. The central thrust of OCF is to motivate, equip, and support active duty, reserve component, and retired officers of all branches, and their spouses, to lead dynamic, Christ-centered ministries of outreach and service throughout the armed forces. While we gladly embrace the participation of military chaplains and other ordained individuals, we seek to capitalize upon the unique opportunity God gives to all officers to witness to and spiritually encourage their comrades-in-arms in the military society. The staff is kept relatively small, with a primary focus on motivating, equipping, and supporting the members who are Christ’s ambassadors in military communities.

5. Integrating Faith and Profession. We call Christian officers to integrate biblical standards of excellence into their professional responsibilities. OCF recognizes and affirms the unique responsibilities, expertise, and ethical values of the officer corps. We affirm an officer’s adherence to his oath of commissioning. We believe that devotion to duty is both an appropriate biblical imperative and a means of establishing credibility to speak to other military members about spiritual matters.

6. Nurturing the Family. We are committed to encouraging, supporting, and assisting military families as they implement the biblical principles of marriage and parenthood. The Christian family is the basic worshiping unit of the Church. Military life places unique demands on families even in its routine duties. Field training, TDY, deployments, frequent moves, and the dangers inherent in training and operations amplify this stress. Thus OCF helps husbands and wives grow in their marital relationships, and it helps them as parents to build vibrant, healthy Christian families that glorify God, contribute to increased military readiness, and provide a powerful witness within the military.

7. Equipping to Serve. We are committed to the spiritual development of each person in our movement by helping him or her in ways that find expression in godly service and outreach to the military. OCF communicates about opportunities for personal ministry to its members, to their family members, and also to other believers in the military society. And OCF teaches, equips, encourages and supports members and their families in such ministries.

8. Supporting the Chaplaincy. We seek to support and encourage chaplains. Local or ship-based chapel activities offer prime venues for Christ-centered outreach and service to a military community. OCF acknowledges the chaplain’s responsibility for and authority in local Command Religious Programs. Thus we support chapel-sponsored and workplace ministry activities through prayer, encouragement, and participation. By cooperating with and assisting chaplains and lay leaders, we seek to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ throughout the entire military society.