Community Leaders Host Fundraiser to Repair Historic Church, Spiritual Home to Sudanese Refugees

Since it was built in the late 1800s, the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine in Moorhead has been a place of worship for people from all walks of life.

In the last two decades, the majority of the church’s worshippers have been Sudanese refugees who resettled in the area through the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota.

Because Sudan was once part of the British Empire, refugees from Sudan and other African countries that have experienced British colonization found “a spiritual home” in the church, says Markus Krueger, the Programming Director of the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County.

Services and rituals from the Episcopal Church, also called the Church of England, are still largely unchanged and familiar for Sudanese refugees.

Now, after over one hundred years, the church is in need of repairs.

On August 6, there will be a “Raise the Roof” fundraiser at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine for community members to support the cause and learn more about the Sudanese people who are now a vital part of the church.

Maureen Kelly Jonason, the Executive Director of the Historical and Cultural Society, says the church is “a little-known treasure in Moorhead.”

“It’s a beautiful little gem that everyone should be aware of,” Jonason continues.

Jonason partnered with Rinita Dalan of MSUM; Barbara Glasrud, senior warden of the church; and Julie Rokke of YHR architects to write a grant to partially fund the repairs.  The “Raise the Roof” fundraiser will help with additional costs.

The fundraiser begins at 10:30 a.m. with a traditional Episcopalian service in Engish open to the public followed by a program with music from the Sudanese choir, American and Sudanese foods, and some historical background of the church. The basement of St. John the Divine is not wheelchair accessible, but refreshments can be brought up to the first level for anyone who has difficulty with stairs.

Jonason advises the community to “come to learn something new. Come if you are a fan of historic preservation. Come if you are a person of faith, if you love learning about different cultures of the world.”

If you are unable to make the event but would still like to contribute, send donations to PO Box 641 Moorhead MN 56561.

For more information, contact Maureen Kelley Jonason at maureen.jonason@hcsmuseum.org or Rinita Dalan at dalanrin@mnstate.edu.

If You Go
What: “Raise the Roof” Fundraiser
When: 10:30 a.m. Sunday, August 6
Where: Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine (120 8th St S, Moorhead)

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