New Church

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There are some old subjects to catch up on, and I intend to hit at least a couple of them.

In Chicago we had been going to All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church.  That is where Elizabeth and I were chrismated and where Basil was baptized (not long ago).

We asked for some advice when we moved to Minnesota, but we didn’t get very much.  Lizzy knew of a Greek church in Minneapolis where her elders were still attending, but we thought it would probably be too big and likely too Greek (I still haven’t been yet).

When I thought I would be working at a Montessori school in southwest Minneapolis, we started looking up information about St. Herman’s OCA.  We visited here before I found out where I would be working.  It was a nice, small church of mostly converts to the Orthodox faith.  We enjoyed it and found some similarities with All Saints.  There were other differences – some we liked and others we didn’t.  But it was definitely a place we thought we could stay.

The following week we decided to visit an Orthodox church in St. Paul I’d heard about called Holy Trinity (also OCA).  This church is also small but with more of a mixture of “converts” and “cradles.”  One of the first things noticeable about the church was that it was in a poorer part of the city – lots of boarded up windows and official postings on front doors seen.  The service itself was a beautiful liturgy that was reminiscent of things we appreciated at All Saints.  The choir was at the side in the midst of the congregation, even though there was a balcony that was clearly adequate to house them above the congregants.  Most of the people were singing along with the choir and we felt at home immediately.

Outside the church there are a couple of empty lots next to the building, in which a community organization has developed a wonderful community garden with the church’s permission.

We later read that the land was formerly the site of a crack house which was deeded to the church in exchange for promised bull-dozing and paying of back taxes.

We met Fr. Jonathan at our first visit for vespers, and he gave us the advice to keep visiting all of the Orthodox churches in the city before landing at one.  Someone at coffee hour the next day told us he gave them the same advice which was not followed.

We felt like perhaps we should follow the advice (at least a bit) and visited St. Mary’s, the OCA cathedral in Minneapolis.  I think by this point we knew I had a job in St. Paul and decided to visit this church anyway.  This church had a rich history with connections to multiple saints, but it was also full of pews with a distant choir and a very distant feeling inside.  We are in no place to judge, but our feeling there was as spectators versus the feeling at Holy Trinity – it was simply a place where we wanted to return and worship.

The following Sunday we visited John and Lila in Chicago and have since been attending Holy Trinity in St. Paul.

Fr. Jonathan came over for a pleasant evening so that he could get to know our family better, and we’ve slowly begun meeting people there, though we haven’t established any real friendships yet.  In the future we anticipate moving to St. Paul so that I have a shorter commute and so that it’s easier for us to go to church on a frequent basis.  Holy Trinity has services five days each week, and, of course, we would love to have easier access during busy times like Lent and Holy Week.  Unfortunately, a closer move may not help much in getting to know people as it seems nearly all Orthodox churches these days serve as commuter churches – especially if they’ve remained in a neighborhood after the demographics have changed.

Holy Trinity is likely where we’ll remain.  Come and join us there when you visit.  They recently had some wonderful iconography work done on the inside that’s worth a look even if you don’t like church.

~Eric

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One Response to “New Church”

  1. dorfer Says:

    Glad you guys have ended up at Holy Trinity! I think I might have been the one who told you Fr. Jonathan gave me the same advice, and though I did make it to a few other Orthodox churches in the cities I kept wanting to come back to Holy Trinity because it just felt like home.

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