Fr. Peter Gillquist and Fargo, ND

Earlier, I had mentioned that I would post again on Fr. Peter Gillquist and his connection to the Orthodox mission in Fargo.  Fargo is allegedly the first mission Fr. Peter enacted upon becoming Orthodox.  According to Fr. Andrew Harmon (Orthodox priest in Ohio), he and Fr. Peter decided upon Fargo as a good location for a mission.  Fr. Andrew has family within the region, east of Fargo-Moorhead.  So, they grabbed a phone book Fr. Andrew had and called every Eastern European name in the phonebook, asking whether the person would be interested in having an Orthodox mission in Fargo.  Most said no, of course, and were Roman Catholic, but enough said “yes,” that they decided to establish the mission.  That was back in about 1987.  Our mission had a priest for a few months back then, but he had difficulties with alcoholism.  Sometime thereafter he returned to the Protestant Episcopal Church.  Fargo would spend the next 20 + years being sporadically serviced, though the priests who came here came in good faith and with plates already full due to work in other parishes.  Fr. Peter never forgot about Fargo and when I came here, he and I would discuss Fargo periodically.  Although he was sad to see the mission move from the Antiochian Archdiocese to the OCA a few years ago, he conceded to me that such was probably best for the mission itself and the mission remained in his thoughts and prayers.  I realize that Fr. Peter’s influence on the larger religious scene in America may be minuscule, and few who are not connected to Orthodoxy or 1980s evangelicalism will know of him, but that is the case with nearly every significant Orthodox Christian leader, for various factors that may be worth exploring in future posts.  Within Orthodox Christianity, however, his influence is quite important.  Indeed, I’d argue it is very important.  His energy will be sorely missed by many.  May his memory be eternal!

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