Russian Church In Texas Collecting Funds To Help Parishioners Recover From Winter Storm

Russian Church in Texas Collecting Funds to Help Parishioners Recover From Winter Storm

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 23rd February, 2021) The Russian church in the US state of Texas began collecting funds to help its parishioners repair plumbing after the recent wave of heavy winter storms, the rector of St. Nicholas Orthodox cathedral in the city of McKinney, Seraphim Holland, told Sputnik.

150 HOURS OF FREEZING TEMPERATURES

Deadly winter storms and record freezing temperatures swept across the United States last week, with Texas being the hardest hit state. The storm shut down power plants and cracked piping, leaving 4 million Texans without electricity and nearly 15 million suffering from a water crisis.

"We have a benevolent fund, it is modest, but it will be used to help people who asked for support - probably mostly on plumbing repairs," father Seraphim said.

The parish also collects money after every Divine Liturgy on Sundays and major Orthodox holidays, he added.

"It is a sort of our pillar, it is a big part of our culture, and now we will be collecting for people who need plumbing repairs and to solve other problems," the priest noted.

The priest said he was lucky because he had power all the time, but many of his parishioners lost electricity for a long period of time.

"We had about 150 hours of freezing temperature," father Seraphim said. "Because of losing power and extreme cold, many people have had frozen pipes... I know our church hall has a burst pipe. Fortunately, it is underneath the main area, and we have to have it fixed."

The rector noted that parishioners called each other to see if anything is okay with others.

"I think probably more the women [called] than the men, to be honest," he said. "But I will be frank with you - I think we could do much more individually."

Father Seraphim has recognized regretfully that he had to cancel services in the church because of weather for the first time in many years.

UNPREDICTABLE EVENTS LED TO RELYING MORE ON GOD

Such unpredictable weather in Texas, where snow is a very rare event in winter, tells people about the necessity to rely more on the Lord, the rector of St. Vladimir Church in Houston Lubomir Kupec told Sputnik.

"I believe unpredictable events lead us to rely more on God, rather than on companies that are assumed to provide support for our lives," he said. "After all, such an emergency should not have happened in Houston in principle. A lot of oil and natural gas are produced in Texas, and, I am sure, there were capabilities to generate enough electricity. I think there was a human factor that can always fail."

The priest and his family spent several days without power and had to sleep in warm clothes with temperatures below freezing.

"Consequently, I realized that impossible and unforeseen things can happen at any step of the way and it is prudent to be as prepared as much as possible with what we are able to control," he said.

"For instance, while living in Houston, I have learned that the local weather is unpredictable and as such I have learned to keep warm clothes in the car: while they usually are not needed, they are available just in case."

On the day of the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, father Lubomir was lucky to call to church watchman Augie Nagim who was able to turn off the water.

"We are certain that Augie's help saved the temple from flooding," the priest said. "We have a sink and faucet in the altar, and one can imagine what would have happened should a pipe have burst. We would have had to repair the entire altar and iconostasis."

During the days of power loss, the priest and his family was able to make brief calls to some relatives to inform them that they are okay.

"Naturally, day and night we were freezing in the house and to stay warm we had on three pairs of socks, three pairs of pants, three layers of sweaters with coats and hats during the day and wore all this at night bundled under blankets in the attempt to get some rest. Inside the house, our thermometer said the temperature was below 0 degrees Celsius," father Lubomir said. "Thank God, we had candles which we kept lit in the kitchen as our only source of light and heat. Our family of six consoled themselves with tea made on the propane stove which we kept outside. This little propane stove saved us, so while it could not keep us warm it did help to sustain us. It was just enough for those crucial days of survival in the extreme cold."

Being without a telephone connection, the priest was able to communicate with his flock.

"An opportunity to offer support only appeared on Thursday when our power returned and I immediately contacted Senior Sister Lyubov Stukalova, Church Warden Vladislav Sharrin and some other parishioners, and was relieved to learn that almost everyone I called was well."

The priest said he and others continue to call parishioners who say that their houses have suffered and will require urgent repairs due to burst pipes.

Speaking personally, father Lubomir has recognized that he is ready for extreme weather after living near the main Russian Holy Trinity monastery abroad in upstate New York.

"My matushka [wife] and I spent there four years from 1993 to 1997, and we learned about the dramatic nature of a winter storm," he said.

The Priest recalled that in the winter of 1996, freezing temperatures reached minus 30 degrees, and he had to get up at 3:00 a.m., turn on the car, and go to the monastery to prepare for the early Divine Liturgy.

"For me, that winter was a good tempering for all the winters that have followed," he said.