Orthodox find a home for faith in Fargo church
When Evelina Shindieva moved to Fargo from Russia in 1996, she looked for a new church. "We had a need to go to church to hear gospel worship," she recalls. First she attended Olivet Lutheran with her friends.
When Evelina Shindieva moved to Fargo from Russia in 1996, she looked for a new church.
"We had a need to go to church to hear gospel worship," she recalls.
First she attended Olivet Lutheran with her friends. Then she tried the north-side Hope Lutheran, which was closer to her home.
But nothing matched her experiences growing up with the Orthodox Church of her native country.
That changed about six years ago when All Saints Orthodox Church took over the worship space at 2415 Broadway, Fargo.
Things are getting a lot more like home for Shindieva and others seeking a more authentic Orthodox service. About four years ago All Saints affiliated with the Chicago and Mid-America Diocese of the Orthodox Church.
"It's been our hope, goal and objective not only to preserve our spiritual heritage and purity of faith but to give it to others, to have a missionary ministry to all people who want to address orthodox faith," says Andre Papkov, dean for the northern part of the diocese.
Papkov, has been making periodic visits to Fargo (he's seen too many blizzards, he says with a laugh), bringing in items like candleholders and icon screens to make the space look more like an Orthodox Church and less like its former resident - a Seventh-day Adventist Church.
He says not only Russians, but Romanians, Serbians, Bulgarians and even some Greeks have been looking for something more traditional, more reminiscent of back home.
Shindieva says about 20 people regularly attend church but expects that number to rise as All Saints will soon have its own priest. One is in the process of relocating from Chicago but will be here tonight to lead the Easter service.
The service begins around 11:50 p.m. with a procession around the outside of the church.
The service itself starts at midnight and ends around 3 a.m.
Orthodox services can be considerably longer than some western Christian services and marked with the congregation standing for the duration. The pews have been pushed to the side and back walls, but worshippers can take a rest if needed, Papkov says.
Services are bilingual, in both English and Church Slavonic, which Papkov describes as "an antiquated form of Russian designed for liturgy."
"It's a very beautiful, poetic language," he says. "Compared to modern Russian, it sounds like Shakespearean English more than modern English."
Shindieva is particularly excited about traditional Easter services, saying the holiday is one of her favorites.
"It's a time of great spiritual joy, celebrating the central event of our faith," Papkov says, referring to the theme of "hope's eternal life."
Shindieva also embraces the idea that the church will help her 15-year-old son, born in America, better understand his heritage.
"It helps him not only learn his native language, but to keep it," she says. "We're not only keeping our language, but our culture."
"It's like back home," Shindieva says. She explains how she would make annual trips back to Russia and attend service. "Now I don't have to wait a year to go. I go back every weekend."
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533