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Welcoming Ukrainians to North Dakota: Fresh Expression of church

Mission Bismarck is a community-based church plant that allows people to interact and impact the community positively. One group of people that Mission Bismarck is reaching are Ukrainians living in the community. The job market has brought people from Ukraine to North Dakota. This year, the Bismarck area has seen 200 refugees from Ukraine under the Uniting for Ukraine program. The ministry outreach is Fresh Expression of church bridging Mission Bismarck, Legacy UMC and their new neighbors.


This fresh expression I'm working with is reaching out to the immigrant and refugee community within Bismarck. I had this idea of starting meals within the community where different immigrant groups would present their meal and community would be invited in. They would learn about the culture of the group sharing the meal,  they would ask questions, taste the cuisine, and then we would introduce Mission Bismarck in partnership with these refugees and immigrants.

I made contact with all of the leaders in Bismarck to start this, and only the Ukrainian community contacted me. So I set up a coffee date with her. I was there, in the coffee shop, and she comes in, this little Ukrainian woman with sunglasses on, looking like the boss, sits down and she asks me, "What is it that you want?"

I presented to her the idea, this is what I'm thinking, what should we do? And she said, "Well, who are you?" I said, "Well, I'm actually a pastor–Pastor Cory." And she said, "You're a pastor?" I said, "Yes." She goes, "Oh, well, this is what we need."

She began to tell me all the things the Ukrainian community needs. I realized that either I went with my idea and tried to force that, or I would just go with her idea. I chucked my idea out and I went with what she needed. So the Fresh Expression was formed through what the Ukrainian community needed. They needed people to help them to learn how to drive. They needed people to make contacts and be friends with them.

They needed a church where they could hear the service in their own language. We started a community, where volunteers from different churches in the community could come in and help Ukrainians learn how to drive.

This has been  a great success. In most of the homes, both partners work. Maybe one of them can and the other cannot drive.  The driver does not have time to teach the other how to drive, or they only have one vehicle.  We provide a vehicle and we teach them how to drive for up to the point where they take their test, graduate, and we celebrate with them. We have  many people who come in and take turns teaching.

We have also started, bringing  in an interpreter for worship service at Legacy. We have a live Ukrainian interpreter who interprets the service as it's happening.

The Fresh Expression culminated just a few weeks ago in the baptism of one of the Ukrainian babies. I was privileged to do the baptism. The church is used to not hearing Ukrainian. We have the interpreter in back and the people who come who need it in Ukrainian have headsets and they listen to it. But for this baptism, we invited the interpreter was up on the platform.  I did the baptism, I would pause, and she would interpret out for everyone to hear so the people in the community could hear and get a sample of what that's like. We got to celebrate the baptism of Victor, this little boy, with the community.

Our Fresh Expression into the immigrant and refugee community has been a huge success, and it continues to grow.

Attend Fresh Expressions Activate Day on April 20 with a team. Did you miss the Fresh Expressions Activate Day on Dec. 2 and are you seeking to take a deeper dive into creating a Fresh Expression? Join us to continue the momentum at Activate Day on April 20, 9 a.m. to noon. Read more Fresh Expression stories


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000