Orthodox Christians Now Have a Dedicated Place of Worship in Columbus
COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch
Jason and Kelsey Bigelow are among a small, but growing number of Orthodox Christians in the area who have long been seeking a permanent place of worship, rather than driving as far as Tupelo irregularly in order to have access to the services they want. They recently found that their numbers had grown large enough to found a local mission, and that a former Christian Science worship center was available for purchase – so they and their congregation did so. They now meet at the church on 4th Avenue North, which they have been extensively renovating. They are considered a Mission for now, as they are still working on the funding required to maintain a full-time priest, rather than having one come in once every 3-4 weeks, and having congregants preach in the meantime. They intend to begin holding formal worship services in July; they expect to begin with about thirty congregants.
“It’s a small world of Orthodox Christians in Mississippi,” said Columbus physician William Rosenblatt who bought the building along with Jason earlier this month. “Everyone kind of knows everyone. (When we) moved here, we knew … the Bigelows were in town. (We) put our heads together and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to do something. We can’t keep driving an hour and 45 minutes to church every Sunday.’ They had been looking at area buildings, just kind of thinking into the future, and we found this one, started getting the ball rolling.”
William Rosenblatt of Columbus does yard work outside the new Orthodox Church on Fourth Avenue North – credit – Isabelle Altman.jpg
“The first time you walk into an Orthodox Church that’s all set up, not like this,” Kelsey said, gesturing to the construction around her, “(but) with the candles and iconography and the singing, it’s overwhelming. If you have studied art and history, even if you don’t know anything about the Orthodox Church firsthand when you come in, you instantly see the beauty of the worship.”
“The building is sort of in the classic church configuration, a Latin cross plan,” Jason said. “So that’s what we would have built if we had built this from scratch.”
“Most people aren’t as fortunate,” Rosenblatt said. “They’re in a store front for a long time or something much less formal.”
“When you drive your kids an hour every other Sunday to go to church, and you can’t stay late for coffee hour because you’ve got to get back and do stuff or you can’t be there on Wednesday night and you can’t fully raise them in the church — to have a church that I can walk to is absolutely a miracle to me,” she said. “It’s like having your grandma next door,” she added. “That’s the only thing I can liken it to. It’s like having your community, the things that matter to you (and are) close to you, within reach.”
“Everybody’s welcome,” Jason said. “It’s not just Orthodox — which we think there’s other area Orthodox. But this church is for everybody. … Everybody’s welcome that wants to learn about Jesus.”
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