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While most of the traditional women's fraternities or sororities were founded decades before the start of the 20th century, the first ever specifically Christian-themed Greek Letter Organization formed was the Kappa Phi Club, founded in Kansas in 1916. Kappa Phi was a women's sisterhood that developed out of a bible study and remains one of the largest nationally present Christian women's collegiate clubs today. Later organizations added more defined social programming along with a Christian emphasis, bridging the gap between non-secular traditional sororities and church-sponsored bible study groups, campus ministries and sect-based clubs and study groups.

History

All collegiate fraternities and sororities, beginning with Phi Beta Kappa in 1776, had, at inception, either a tacit or overt spiritual component. This may have been as simple as an official opening or closing prayer, expanding to Biblical lessons contained within rituals, and rules regarding behavior that are modeled on various Christian, or Jewish strictures. Over time, traditional (~original) fraternities and sororities have relaxed some of the wording of their rituals and codes to allow a more pluralistic model and open membership to a broader group of collegians.[1][2]

Insularity, then integration

The rise of specifically Jewish, then Catholic, then Black, and then specifically Christian fraternities and sororities was a response (by the Jewish and Catholic groups first, then by students of non-white ethnicity) to the desire for fraternal membership where membership was barred. But it was important to note that America was far more insular in the pre-WWII era; in many cases Jewish and Catholic families, and their rabbis and priests wished to ensure that their children socialized primarily within their own religious traditions, thus establishing their own, competing Greek Letter organizations (GLOs) distinct from the "WASPy" traditional Greeks. After the integration of WWII GIs and the war's immediate aftermath, colleges and workplaces were abruptly far more integrated. Prior to WWII, relatively few Black or Hispanic students entered college. But this would change with the passage of the G.I. Bill. Soon, the separate Jewish nationals and scattered locals began to merge, responding as traditional Greek chapters became more open to religious integration, adding Jewish and Catholic members. Only a fraction of Jewish fraternities remain, after multiple mergers. Similarly, Catholic nationals and locals merged, began opening chapters on non-Catholic campuses and welcoming students of Protestant heritage. Yet Black, then Hispanic and Asian GLOs which likewise began to form have remained widely popular, some using the moniker "Multicultural", though all the national GLOs have removed "bias clauses" from their governing documents and policies, and all are racially integrated.[2][3]

The idea of separate, thematic-focused fraternities and sororities continued to interest Christian students, their families and spiritual leaders. Long-established Bible study groups took on Greek Letter names, the first being Kappa Phi, a Bible-study and service club on twenty-four campuses; Yet the Kappa Phi Club still does not self-identify as a social sorority. Some organizers, assuming that the traditional GLOs lacked sufficient moral guardrails in pursuit of social programming, emerged to create the first objectively Christian (Protestant, then Evangelical) fraternities and sororities.[4][5]

Traditionally, formation of the Christian sororities, later to become national organizations, has followed establishment of Christian fraternities, some as independent groups, and some in a "brother/sister" relationship, except in the case of Alpha Delta Chi, the first such Christian-emphasis organization on its campus. That sorority was founded in 1925 while Alpha Gamma Omega was founded in 1927, two years later, likewise at UCLA. Viewed broadly, these Christian Greek organizations enjoyed local success in their early years but they did not experience the national growth seen by more traditional Greek organizations.[citation needed]

1980s resurgence

A more novel situation occurred in 1987 when Chi Alpha Omega was founded as a co-educational Christian Greek organization. It wasn't until 1998 that Sigma Alpha Omega broke off from Chi Alpha Omega to form a women's-only ministry. Sigma Alpha Omega is now governed by a separate national president and board of trustees, and has grown to include 33 chapters throughout the country.[6] Chi Alpha Omega continues as a men's organization.

In 1988, the founding of Sigma Phi Lambda on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin sparked new growth among Christian sororities. "Phi Lamb" was founded by women who saw value in the brotherhood exemplified by Beta Upsilon Chi and wished to create a female counterpart, since ΒΥΧ was a male-only organization.[7] Sigma Phi Lambda today has an executive director, national board of directors, and regional directors, and is the largest Christian social sorority in the nation, with thirty-one chapters.[8]

Multicultural sorority expansion

There has been a surge in the multicultural segment of Christian sororities in recent years, with the establishment of sororities such as:

These are largely or exclusively organized as non-collegiate chapters.

Non-conventional Christian sororities

These might be categorized as mission-oriented, serve African-American or nominally Multicultural populations, and are typically non-collegiate. Often tightly controlled by a founding pastor:

List of sororities

Listed in order of national founding. Where collegiate, several are noted in the Baird's Manual Archive online. Where there is no current information on the number of chapters, a question mark appears; these groups may be dormant.[9]

Letters Sorority name Year founded Emphasis Type Undergraduate
chapters
References
ΚΦ Kappa Phi 1916 Christian Collegiate 33 active [10]
ΑΔΧ Alpha Delta Chi 1925 Christian, Social Collegiate 14 active [11][12]
ΦΒΧ Phi Beta Chi 1978 Christian, Social Collegiate 5 active [13]
ΕΑ Elogeme Adolphi 1987 Christian, Multicultural Collegiate (primarily) 16 active [14]
ΣΑ Sigma Alpha[15] 1988 Christian Collegiate, Social 2 active
ΣΦΛ Sigma Phi Lambda 1988 Christian, Social Collegiate 27 active [16]
ΑΝΩ Alpha Nu Omega 1988 Christian, Multicultural Collegiate 17 active [17]
ΑΛΩ Alpha Lambda Omega 1990 Christian, Multicultural Collegiate (primarily) 14 active [18]
ΑΣΔ Alpha Sigma Delta (Oakwood) 1990 Christian, African-American Collegiate 0 active [19]
ΨΔΧ Psi Delta Chi 1994 Christian, African-American Non-collegiate 2 active ? [20][21]
ΗΙΣ Eta Iota Sigma 1992 Christian, Social Collegiate 3 active
ΣΑΩ Sigma Alpha Omega 1998 Christian, Social Collegiate 36 active [22][23]
ΔΨΕ Delta Psi Epsilon 1999 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate (primarily) 3 active [24]
ΖΦΖ Zeta Alpha Omicron (part of Zeta Phi Zeta) 2001 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate (primarily) 17 active ?
ΠΙΧ Pi Iota Chi 2001 Christian, Multicultural 3 active
ΑΘΩ Alpha Theta Omega 2002 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 6 active
ΛΟΧ Lambda Omicron Chi 2002 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 3 active
ΓΑΛ Gamma Alpha Lambda 2003 Christian, Social Collegiate 4 active [25]
ΖΙΧ Zeta Iota Chi 2003 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 1 active ?
ΗΓΖ Eta Gamma Zeta (local, St. Xavier) 2004 Christian, Social Collegiate 0 active [26]
ΛΟΓ Lambda Omicron Gamma[27] 2005 Christian 0 active [28]
ΑΩ Alpha Omega 2005 Christian, Multicultural Collegiate 7 active
ΘΑ Theta Alpha 2006 Christian, Social Collegiate 4 active [29]
ΔΑΧ Delta Alpha Chi 2006 Christian, Social Collegiate 1 active [30]
ίχκ Iota Chi Kappa 2007 Christian, African-American Non-collegiate 8 active
ΑΨΓ Alpha Psi Gamma 2007 Christian, Multicultural Collegiate 0 active [31]
ΘΧΓ Theta Chi Gamma 2008 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 4 active
ΔΛΓ Delta Lambda Gamma 2008 Christian, Multicultural Collegiate 0 active [32]
ΔΦΨ Delta Phi Psi 2008 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 2 active
ΘΣΛ Theta Sigma Lambda 2008 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 0 active ?
ΔΑΩ Delta Alpha Omega 2009 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 8 active
ΘΦΣ Theta Phi Sigma 2009 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 4 active [33]
ΣΩΜ Sigma Omega Mu 2010 Christian 0 active [34]
ΤΡΟ Tau Rho Omicron 2011 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 1 active ?
ΖΝΔ Zeta Nu Delta 2013 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 3 active [35]
ΜΑΜ Mu Alpha Mu 2016 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 25 active [36]
ΑΩΧ Alpha Omega Chi 2019 Christian, African-American Non-collegiate 1 active [37]
ΨΛΘ Psi Lambda Theta 2019 Christian Collegiate 0 active ?
ΔΙΔ Delta Iota Delta 2019 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 7 active [38]
ΛΧΩ Lambda Chi Omega 2020 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 4 active [39]
ΛΑΧ Lambda Alpha Chi 2021 Christian, Multicultural Non-collegiate 2 active

See also

References

  1. ^ Anson, Jack L.; Marchenasi, Robert F., eds. (1991) [1879]. Baird's Manual of American Fraternities (20th ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Baird's Manual Foundation, Inc. p. I-3. ISBN 978-0963715906. Baird's Manual is also available online here: The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  2. ^ a b Sanua, Marianne Rachel (2003), Going Greek: Jewish College Fraternities in the United States, 1895–1945, Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0-8143-2857-1
  3. ^ The first "ethnic"-themed national fraternities included Alpha Phi Alpha for Black Americans, formed in 1905, Rho Psi, for Asians sojourning in America, formed in 1916, and Phi Eta Mu, serving Puerto Rican students, formed in 1923.
  4. ^ Tucker, Susan; Willinger, Beth (2012-05-07). Newcomb College, 1886-2006: Higher Education for Women in New Orleans. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-4338-4.
  5. ^ Boyett, Colleen; Tarver, H. Micheal; Gleason, Mildred Diane (2020-12-07). Daily Life of Women: An Encyclopedia from Ancient Times to the Present [3 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. p. 794. ISBN 978-1-4408-4693-9.
  6. ^ Explained more fully in the Who We Are section of its national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  7. ^ Noted among the member testimonies provided by the national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  8. ^ "Home - Sigma Phi Lambda". Archived from the original on 2011-02-02. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  9. ^ William Raimond Baird; Carroll Lurding (eds.). "Almanac of Fraternities and Sororities (Baird's Manual Online Archive)". Student Life and Culture Archives. University of Illinois: University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 5 April 2022. The main archive URL is The Baird's Manual Online Archive homepage.
  10. ^ Noted in the Baird's Archive, "K" listings, accessed 5 April 2022.
  11. ^ Noted in the Baird's Archive, "A" listings, accessed 5 April 2022.
  12. ^ Alpha Delta Chi national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  13. ^ Noted in the Baird's Archive, "P" listings, accessed 5 April 2022.
  14. ^ Elogeme Adolphi national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  15. ^ Not to be confused with the national Agricultural professional sorority of that name.
  16. ^ Sigma Phi Lambda national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  17. ^ Alpha Nu Omega national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  18. ^ Alpha Lambda Omega national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  19. ^ Appears dormant, after a 2019 hazing incident.
  20. ^ Psi Delta Chi national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  21. ^ Not to be confused with the Military Sorority of the same name.
  22. ^ Noted in the Baird's Archive, "S" listings, accessed 5 April 2022.
  23. ^ Sigma Alpha Omega national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  24. ^ Delta Psi Epsilon national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  25. ^ No known national website; several campus portals available.
  26. ^ Apparently no longer active at St. Xavier University, Chicago.
  27. ^ Not to be confused with the originally Jewish men's professional fraternity in Osteopathic Medicine.
  28. ^ Appears to have been a local Christian sorority in Illinois. No information readily available via Google search.
  29. ^ Theta Alpha national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  30. ^ Delta Alpha Chi' FSU campus portal, accessed 7 April 2022.
  31. ^ Former Alpha Psi Gamma national website, accessed 6 April 2022.
  32. ^ Appears to have been formed at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. No longer on campus, no information via Google search.
  33. ^ Theta Phi Sigma national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  34. ^ Sigma Omega Mu national website appears dormant, accessed 5 April 2022.
  35. ^ Zeta Nu Delta national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  36. ^ Mu Alpha Mu national website, accessed 29 August 2022.
  37. ^ Alpha Omega Chi national website, accessed 7 April 2022.
  38. ^ Delta Iota Delta national website, accessed 5 April 2022.
  39. ^ Lambda Chi Omega national website, accessed 5 March 2022.