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Our church was falling apart. We were trying to fix it, but there was no money. We tried to do fundraising, but it wasn’t easy – especially when there’s hardly any work. Then Donlin came. And all of a sudden, we
had people willing to help.
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  The church is the strength and the bond for each and every one of us. We were always taught to respect the church, respect the people, respect our families that are buried here. Our grandfathers would tell us, “Sing.” Our grandmothers would say, “Sing.” And we’d open our voices. Because it’s not how you sound. It’s from the inside.
This church built strength in the village, too. When the bell rang, everybody was here. You dropped what you were doing and you were in the church. You worry about your cutting, your fishing, all that other stuff later – but when it comes to your evening service and Sunday service, you should be here, together, holding each up other in spiritual need.
That’s why I’m so grateful for Donlin, all their workers, and everybody else who pitched in to help with the restoration of St. Sergius – even the ones who did all the paperwork that we needed, like the grants that helped with the funding. You don’t always hear about all the work that people do in villages like ours; how we all come together when someone needs help. And even though there’s no words that can express our appreciation to everyone, I’m thankful. His Grace, our bishop, is thankful. The village is thankful.
Erick Morgan, Sr.
St. Sergius was built in 1835. It was almost like the first church in the Kuskokwim – even when there were no people living here. After the 1952 flood, it was moved back away from the river and rebuilt. Chuathbaluk was just a small village then; maybe only four houses.
A lot of the old ones were taking care of the church. My wife’s family moved up here so there would be somebody nearby to help, and that’s when the village started growing. People would come from all over for feast days and to celebrate the birth of Christ and the Easter services.
When I was a kid my grandfather would come and get us in the morning, and we’d bring wood to the church to make sure it was warm by the time the congregation got there. The churchwarden would tell us kids, “You, light the stove. You, light the candles. You, light the incense. And make sure the floor is clean.”
Me and my wife Lucy were married here, in the old way, by Father Phillip Alexis on June 3, 1979. That means we’re bound for life as one under the eyes of Christ; unity as one family for the rest of our lives. Once you’re joined in the church, you never let go of each other – and we haven’t, through all the ups and downs.
 Erick Morgan, Sr. was married in St. Sergius Orthodox Church in Chuathbaluk. Today he serves as sub-deacon at the newly restored church. Donlin Gold was the primary funder of the restoration – a multiyear commitment given the remote nature of the village and limited access to not only materials, but also laborers with the skills necessary to build the domes that are typical of Russian Orthodox architecture.

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