Glad Tidings Mission
Christmas is a time of giving, and few can be more in need than those homeless and hungry in the harsh reality of a North Dakota winter. That is as true today as it was one hundred years ago on this date when the Glad Tiding Mission prepared to feed over 45 homeless men on Christmas Day in Fargo. The Glad Tidings Mission was founded on February 1, 1907 by the Rev. Orlando McCracken. He was a Methodist minister, but the mission served as a nondenominational shelter.
By 1914, a quickly expanding war in Europe had sent thousands of refugees to America, and many had sought work harvesting grain on the Northern Plains. At the same time, a stagnant economy had left jobs difficult to find, and many migrant workers and job seekers had ridden the rails westward, landing in Fargo. So great was the need for the shelter that in 1914, the Glad Tidings Mission expanded into a new building.
Relying solely on donations, the mission could only provide one meal a day, which consisted of soup, bread and coffee. For that first Christmas Day at the new building, a quantity of apples had been donated as a special treat.
The men helped prepare and serve the meal, and were then invited to attend the evening church service. A donated piano was available at the mission, and among the forty-five men, mostly immigrants, was a Scotchman who supplied some lively entertainment as they waited for the food. The Rev. McCraken realized that these unfortunate men needed more than just a meal in the brutal December weather, and shortly after Christmas he began partitioning off the basement to provide beds for a limited number.
The Glad Tidings Mission continued to serve the homeless in Fargo, becoming the Fargo Union Mission in 1928. In 1968 it once again expanded into a new facility and is known today as the New Life Center. Through much of its early history, it was guided by the Rev. McCracken, who, with few interruptions, including service in Europe in World War I, had faithfully served the people of Fargo from his first sermon in April of 1895 to his last breath on June 30th, 1955. The name and facilities have changed, but for over one hundred years the vision of Rev. McCracken perseveres – to provide a haven for the hungry and homeless.
Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis
The Fargo Forum June 30, 1955
The Fargo Forum & Daily Republican December 26, 1914