Cultural Diversity in an Orthodox Mission

One of the characteristics of the Red River Valley is its cultural homogeneity.  Most people are of Scandinavian-American descent.  My mom’s side is also of that line, and it is from that line (Norwegian) that I been blessed to enjoy a farm in Minnesota that’s been in the family since the late 1870s.  I am very thankful.  My dad’s side is basically German-Russian, but most of those folks are from the Western and southern portions of the state.  Most people in the Red River Valley are of Scandinavian descent.  Of course, there are exceptions, such as those who have French and/or Native American descent and the big exception is becoming Fargo.

Fargo has changed dramatically over the years and a recent influx of new residents (Hispanic, Bosnian, African, etc.) has changed things quite a bit.  As such, one might expect a parish to reflect that change and ours does.  Indeed, ours may be the most culturally diverse parish in Fargo (despite our small size).  We have people who have originated from Austria, Serbia, Ukraine, Romania, and Eritrea (the latter being the single largest group).  In addition to those, we have people of Greek-American and Chinese-American descent and several people who hail from the Upper Midwest and/or Red River Valley, such as my wife and I.

No one group makes up a majority and that is one of the key strengths of our parish.  On Holy Saturday, during the Vesperal-Liturgy, we read from the Gospel of Matthew.  It is in this same service that the liturgical cloths are changed from purple to white.  The Gospel reading includes Jesus’ Ascension and his final words to go into all the world, baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have only existed as a cohesive mission for four years (in August).  Prior to that the mission was served sporadically, as priests were available to visit.  We have grown in that time and that growth has included an influx of new people moving to the area (including refugees from Eritrea) and local people who have become Orthodox from various backgrounds.

The Gospel is meant for any person from any given culture and line of ancestry who is willing to embrace its precepts and follow Christ.  Not all will do this, of course, but that is the mission to which the Church is called and that is the mission to which Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church is dedicated.  May God grant that we remain ever faithful to Jesus’ calling to pick up our crosses and follow him.

Christ is risen!

Orthodox Christianity in North Dakota

Christ is risen!

Today is Bright Monday, the first day after Pascha (Easter).  I figured today was also an appropriate day on which to launch this blog, Red River Orthodox.  Red River Orthodox is a blog on behalf of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, an Orthodox Christian community in Fargo, ND (www.holyresurrectionfargo.org).  In addition to the parish website, you may also follow us on Facebook.

I hope this blog proves helpful and informational to residents in Fargo-Moorhead and the larger community of the Red River Valley.

Yours in Christ,

Dellas Oliver (Fr. Oliver) Herbel