ENID, Okla. — Enid's Russian Orthodox congregation took an important step in its development Sunday, with what is believed to be the first service of Divine Liturgy celebrated in the city.

St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles Orthodox Church celebrated Divine Liturgy — known commonly in Catholic and Protestant circles as Mass, Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion — on Sunday in the Turpin Room at Gaslight Theatre.

Father Matthew Floyd, mission priest to St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles Orthodox Church in Still­water and Enid, said the rented space at the Gaslight "worked well," as the parish looks for a more permanent place to have regular services in Enid.

Floyd said about 20 people attended the Divine Liturgy, and about half are inquirers or catachumens — those studying to enter the Orthodox Church.

"That was ideal," Floyd said, "because we want people who are seeking the Orthodox Church to be there, and not just folks who are already Orthodox."

St. Nino's growth in Enid goes back to August 2018, when Floyd celebrated a house blessing, which may have been the first Orthodox service in the city's history.

Soon after, Floyd began having monthly Friday evening Orthodox services in Enid, and in February those services moved from the basement of a local business to St. Julian's Chapel at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, which offered the space to St. Nino.

But, with Floyd split between Enid, Stillwater and his position as assistant priest at St. Benedict Orthodox Church in Oklahoma City, there wasn't room in the schedule to expand to Divine Liturgy services in Enid.

That left new members of the Orthodox Church traveling to Oklahoma City if they wanted to regularly receive Communion.

"One of the reasons it was critical we start serving the Divine Liturgy in Enid, is some of the folks in Enid were traveling up to two hours on Sunday morning," Floyd said, "so as soon as we could start serving Divine Liturgy in Enid on Sunday, I wanted to do that."

That became possible last month, when Floyd relinquished his position at St. Benedict and was named rector, or pastor, of the mission parish of St. Nino in Stillwater and Enid.

Now, Floyd said he's able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in Stillwater and Enid, on alternating Sundays — a schedule he expects to start in earnest after the next Divine Liturgy in Enid on Nov. 3.

In addition to the Sunday service, St. Nino will be hosting a Vespers service, an evening worship service traditionally celebrated the night before Divine Liturgy, at St. Matthew's, 6:30 p.m. each Saturday on the weekends Divine Liturgy is in Enid. The first Vespers service in Enid will be Nov. 16.

The Rev. John Toles, rector at St. Matthew's, said he and his congregation are glad to be able to continue sharing worship space with the growing Orthodox congregation.

"It's just great to have ecumenical relations with the Orthodox Church," Toles said, "and we are delighted to have the space where they can come and worship."

Floyd said St. Nino continues to search for a permanent location to host services in Enid, with enough standing room for 20-35 people in a worship space, and an area to have a fellowship meal afterward.

For more information on St. Nino Equal-to-the-Apostles Orthodox Church, including the calendar of services, visit http://stillwaterorthodox.org.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
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