Appeals Archive

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Spring 2015

Dear Friends!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Religious Books for Russia has always tried to respond to the changes in Russian society.  

In the Soviet era, RBR smuggled Bibles and prayer books into the officially atheist state. After the fall of communism, it became possible for us to distribute legally to priests, parishes and seminaries books by such leading Russian emigre theologians and educators as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, Fr. Thomas Hopko and Sophie Koulomzin.

Today, even as Russia faces political and economic crisis, it is a country that is increasingly plugged in to modern technology.  IPhones, iPads and electronic readers have spread even to the Russian provinces -- at least to younger audiences there -- and made literature that was once inaccessible readily available in electronic form.  

Some of the books that RBR distributes in hardcopies are now also online, but it can take some searching to find them, wading through a jumble of sites to find usable links that are often in violation of copyright laws.

Late last year, Sergei Chapnin, editor of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate and a champion of theological discourse, started Christian.ru, a site that is both a library of religious literature and a forum for discussion.  Chapnin's goal is to include many of RBR's titles on the site, and to do it completely legally, in accordance with copyright.

  Among the books that we plan to post on the site are the new edition of discussions with Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, "The Liturgy of Death and Contemporary Culture" and other books by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, and the books of Sophie Koulomzin, Chapnin told RBR.

But, like most everything in Russia, the project has been hit by bureaucratic obstacles and the collapse of the ruble.  

  We could digitize 300-400 new books in 2015, but the funds we have will permit us to digitize not more than 180 books, said Chapnin. On average, we estimate that one book will cost us 70-80 dollars, he continued, saying that in a few short months Christian.ru has drawn 2000 members.

Through your generous donations, the Christian.ru platform can greatly expand RBR's audience and create a library of digital editions of these books, and RBR can continue with our traditional means of distribution as well, which remains a powerful way of reaching readers.

For example, Nina Ivanovna Kashuba, director of the library in Krymgireevskoye, a village in the Stavropol region, wrote recently to Maria Dorman, one of RBR's representatives in Moscow, about the immediate impact of a delivery of RBR books:

  We organized an exhibition of your collection and held an introduction to the books that you have given us, wrote Kashuba.  The books included Fr. Meyendorff's "Paschal Mystery" and Sophie Koulomzin's "Zakon Bozhii"  Three books were immediately signed out for individual reading at home.  We are very grateful to you and thank you for your help.

A donation of just $80 can add a title to Christian.ru, or provide a village library or provincial seminary with a small collection of books.

Please be generous in this Paschal season!
 



Sincerely yours,


Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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December 2014

Dear Friends:


As of this autumn, Religious Books for Russia’s mission to bring the best of emigre religious thought to post-Soviet Russia is confronted by two dramatic challenges: the country’s deteriorating economic situation and its growing geopolitical isolation, which is also reflected in some troubling new hostility towards such leading lights of Orthodoxy as Metropolitan Anthony Bloom. The impact of his abiding faith in the light of Christ and the Gospel and the importance of love and compassion cannot be overestimated.

Yet, in November, Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department of Church and Society Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, in an interview with Radio Vera (Faith Radio), offered the following dismissive analysis of Metropolitan Anthony impact:

  “Bishop Anthony is not, in my point of view, illustrious either as a thinker, or as a church figure, but there is a certain image of him that was pleasant to people and that in itself is not bad.”

 
Metropolitan Anthony was from a Russian emigre family that had fled the Bolshevik Revolution. For decades he served as the Bishop of Sourozh, based at the Moscow Patriarchate’s cathedral in London. His simple, powerful sermons drew both English people to Orthodoxy, and Russians, who gathered by word of mouth to hear him during his visits to the Soviet Union.

His words were recorded by his large flock and resulted in books that became available in the 1990s at many church candlestands, in secular bookstores, and through the efforts of RBR, which has distributed them to cash-strapped regional seminaries, rural parishes and priests.

Now, after Fr. Vsevolod’s words, it is not clear if his sermons will be as widely available to a broad audience.

RBR is seeking to address such issues both by continuing to distribute books by Metropolitan Anthony, and by other leading figures such as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff and Sophie Koulomzin, and by embarking on a project to digitize them on a single readily accessible Web platform.

Metropolitan Anthony was not about grand gestures. He was about the daily duty of humility and love. With your love for those who will be suffering more and more from economic and spiritual privation in Russia, you can help bring light to such places rural hospitals, as described recently in a Facebook post by Fr. Ruslan Strizhak, a parish priest in the Moscow region, in which he thanked RBR’s Moscow representative for a much-needed donation of books:

  “Elena Dorman has given Orthodox literature to the hospital chapel in the village of Shemetovo,” he wrote. “Residents of the surrounding villages who are undergoing medical treatment now have greater opportunities to broaden their horizons, strengthen their faith, and touch upon the spiritual life of the most eminent pastors of the 20th century. We thank Elena and her friends for this wonderful gift.”
 

With the crash of the Russian ruble, your generous donations towards the work of RBR will, in fact, have a much greater impact. The price of books and postage have yet to catch up to the devalued currency. It is possible that by early next year, your donation of $100 will provide books not to one parish or seminary, but to two, so deep is the economic slide. And as happens in such crises, for most people putting food on the table will become a daily struggle, and books will become a luxury. RBR is, once again, playing a vital role in supplying religious literature, as it did in the Soviet era, when books had to be smuggled in and passed furtively to believers.



Sincerely yours,


Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Spring 2014

 
Dear Friends!

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

As we send out this appeal to you, Russia and Ukraine are on the verge of war. Soon, Orthodox Christians may be shooting at each other.

  Perhaps never before has the need for Religious Books for Russia (RBR) been so great, for the invaluable work made possible by your generous donations of distributing literature by leading emigre Orthodox theologians, thinkers and educators such as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff and Sophie Koulomzin.   

RBR started in the Soviet era, when prayer books and Bibles had to be smuggled into the country. For now, books by Fr. Schmemann, for example, can still be purchased in Russia, but many parishes refuse to sell his works because nationalist forces in the Russian Orthodox Church believe his writings are dangerously influenced by Western ideas. His latest work to be published in Russia, “Liturgy of Death”, is not sold by many parishes because it was not granted an official seal of approval by the publishing department of the Moscow Patriarchate, which objected to the book’s title. Books in general are becoming a luxury as Russia’s economy falls into recession and is hit by sanctions.

Liturgy of Death”, a compilation of Fr. Alexander’s lectures on the Orthodox Christian perspective on death, a topic that remains both omnipresent and taboo in Russia, was edited by Elena Dorman, RBR’s Moscow representative, and despite the obstacles, it has become a huge success: a second print run had to be ordered after the first sold out.

Thanks to your generous and very much needed and appreciated donations, RBR has been able to distribute “Liturgy of Death” to a number of parishes, seminaries and libraries in Russia.

In a recent letter to RBR, Hegumen German of the Svyato-Alekseyevsky Ascension Theological School in Ivanovo, a city northeast of Moscow, sent “heartfelt thanks” for received copies of “Liturgy of Death”, which were allocated among the school and two parishes.

Fr. Lev Bolshakov, a priest in Karelia has labored ceaselessly for nearly two and a half decades to revive church life in Kondopoga, a hardscrabble industrial town in the impoverished region of Karelia in northwestern Russia where there had been no church for 60 years. He recorded a video appeal in which he spoke of the importance of religious literature to his efforts, and expressed his thanks for books received recently from RBR including “The Paschal Mystery” by Fr. John Meyendorff, published in 2013 by St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University in Moscow and Fr. Schmemann’sGreat Lent” and “Historical Path of Orthodoxy.”

  “Religious books are the best thing that can be given to Russia,” said Fr. Bolshakov in his message. “‘The Historical Path of Orthodoxy’ has a much needed sobering influence on those who are thinking seriously about the essence of the life of the church.”

 
He also spoke of how “greatly inspiring” and “clarifying to the soul” are the books of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, also sent by RBR.

  “We will always be happy to receive and grateful for such wonderful gifts and please rest assured that they end up in the hands and minds of people who are not indifferent, who thirst for this and who truly need them. My great thanks to you.”
 

At a moment when Russia risks falling into darkness, the light of God’s Love, of Christ’s Resurrection, conveyed so powerfully and accessibly in these books is needed more than ever.

  Please support the work of Religious Books for Russia and help Russia in this dangerous and difficult time.  



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Fall 2013


Dear Friends,

An article published in Rus Derzhavnaya a Russian nationalist newspaper on December 6, illustrates how rapidly, and negatively, things are changing in the Orthodox Church in Russia.

In this article, Father Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department on church and society relations, refers to the destructive influence of the Western perspective on “Russian” theology. He claims that:

  “Some people might not like what I have to say, but I’m convinced that the time has come to overcome the ‘Parisian captivity’ of Russian theology, and look with a fresh eye at the proportion of those tendencies in the Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian Orthodox intellectual and cultural sphere that were initiated by the theological diaspora of the 20th century, and that tradition that arose in Orthodox countries when they have been living in freedom, when they were not conforming to the dominant Western milieu, nor to totalitarian godless regimes.”  

Fr. Chaplin cites “Parisian captivity” without realizing that the Western theologians who migrated from Russia, to Paris and to the United States for political reasons, were considering the universal aspects of Orthodoxy, regardless of national boundaries. Their writings address the timeless truths of Orthodox theology, making them more than just relevant to present day Russia.

He goes on to speak of the importance of the new martyrs, those who died for their faith in the Soviet era, as a model for creating a new theological self-identity for Russians. That latter thought, of course, is noble, and hopefully it will be achieved.

What is disturbing in this article, when the official image of the Russian Orthodox Church is associated with close ties to the state and condemnation of the West, is the attack on emigre Orthodox heritage. It is an implicit attack on the work of such priests as Father Alexander Schmemann and Father John Meyendorff, who carried on a tradition of Orthodox theology that in varying and important ways, is both thoughtful and accessible to you and me, to us, both in Russia and in the West, bringing many people to the knowledge of Orthodox faith.

Through the efforts of Religious books for Russia the works of Father Alexander and Father John reached Russia already in the Soviet era, smuggled in by visitors, and passed around as precious tamizdat, bringing the theology, the study of God, to a land that was still under Soviet atheist rule.

Today, when Russia’s rulers promote the Orthodox Church, and new churches are being built across the country, the Word of God, and the study of God, is needed as much as ever to counteract the new official view of Orthodoxy as a useful ideology and magical solution to public and private ills.

Through RBR, and with the help of your generous donations, books by Father Schmemann and Father Meyendorff are being sent to places that would most likely never have seen them otherwise. In Moscow, with its cafes, bookstores and smartphones, a theology book is just a click away, the cost of a cappuccino and a piece of cake. In poor villages, those several hundred rubles, $10 or less, are a fortune.

It is your help which just recently made it possible to send over 50 books to the Gavrilovsky Village Library in the village of Gavrilovka in the distant Tambov region. Those included books by Father Schmemann and Father Meyendorff, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom and Father Sergei Hakkel. It is again your help that made it possible for other villages in many other remote regions of Russia to receive similar gifts from RBR, over 2000 books in the recent months.

$100 is enough to provide a village library with years of spiritual sustenance.

Please consider a donation today!


Sincerely yours,


Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Spring 2013


 

 

 
 

Let us do our part to rebuild Russia...
into a country that will stop destroying itself.

 

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!


Dear Friends!

On the night of May 5 to May 6, right after Pascha, one of Russia’s most historic churches burned down. The Church of the Intercession and bell tower in Lyadiny in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, was struck by lightning, which some interpreted as a sign of divine retribution. After the fire, many spoke of the futile battle to save Russia’s architectural and spiritual monuments, which have been ravaged both by communist persecution and the uncertainty of the post-Soviet era.

At first glance, Russia today appears to be flooded with Russian Orthodox literature, sold not only in churches and bookstores, but in subway stations and supermarkets. But it quickly becomes apparent, that many of the books are more about superficial fundamentalism and superstition than spirituality.

It is easy to despair, but let us, in the light and hope of Christ’s Resurrection, focus on the many good things that are happening in Russia, and on our ability, with God’s help, to support Russians in their continuing struggle to overcome decades of oppression and the current confusion about the role of Orthodoxy in Russian society. The church in Lyadiny might be lost, but let us do our part to rebuild Russia on a firmer foundation, into a country that will stop destroying itself.

In the Soviet era, RBR provided prayer books and Bibles to Soviet believers through the efforts of courageous visitors to Russia. Now it sends out to churches, libraries and prisons across the country, works by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. Thomas Hopko, Sophie Koulomzin, and other leading emigre theologians, classics of twentieth century theological thought.

Fr. Schmemann’s books have become very popular and much discussed in Russia in recent years, but they can be hard to find outside of Moscow.

Thanks to your generous contributions, RBR is able to send books to forlorn places like the city of Kambarka in the Republic of Udmurtiya, the village of Aban in the Krasnoyarsk region, the village Bagan in the Novosibirsk region, places far away from cosmopolitan areas.

Lena Dorman and Dmitri Petrov, RBR’s representatives in Moscow, work with several organizations to help distribute books to as broad an audience as possible, including regular mailings to seminaries and libraries, and prisons. A special effort is made to reach out to some of the most deprived people in Russia.

  On Great and Holy Thursday, during the Twelve Gospels, we sing of the Wise Thief who did not turn away from Christ on the Cross. Let us not turn away from those in Russia who so need our help!    


Sincerely yours,


Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary


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November 2010

Dear Friends,

September marked the 10th anniversary of Sophie Koulomzin s death in 2000 at the age of 96, but her life and spirit as an Orthodox Christian educator lives on in the vital work of Religious Books for Russia, which you so generously support.

As RBR s president for over 20 years, from 1979 until her death in 2000, she made it possible for countless believers in Russia to receive Bibles and prayer books smuggled into the Soviet Union when it was an officially atheist state.

In her memoir  Many Worlds: A Russian Life, Sophie Koulomzin recalls her first journey back to Russia  then the Soviet Union -- in 1970.

''Now I had again come briefly in touch with life there and suddenly I realized that there was no absolute break, no complete separation,'' she wrote. ''My life, my own life, such as it was, came easily in touch with the flow of life that went on in Russia. I was together with Russia in the life of the Church, I was together with Russia in the search for spiritual values that is going on there.''

Now her books for the religious instruction of children, such as  Zakon Bozhii (God s Word) ,  Nasha Tserkov i Nashy Deti , (Our Church and our Children), as well as the works of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff and Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, whose families also fled the Bolshevik Revolution, are published in Russia and distributed throughout the country by RBR.

But while a small part of Russian society appears to bask in immeasurable material wealth, for others yearning for spiritual sustenance, a book is a luxury.

The writings of Sophie Koulomzin, Fr. Schmemann, Fr. Meyendorff , and Metropolitan Anthony bear witness to the importance of the decades of witness to Christ by Russian emigrés who did not forget or reject their native land even as they put down deep roots in the West -- and they reaffirm the importance of your contributions to RBR s mission today.

Through the devoted efforts of RBR s Moscow representative Elena Dorman and the assistance of Dmitry Petrov their books are sent to seminaries, parishes, clergy and lay people who request them, and RBR is continuing its efforts to directly provide all of Russia s seminary libraries with their books as well as secular state libraries in regions across the country.  Many libraries now have departments devoted to religion and to emigré literatures, as Russia seeks to recover what was lost over 70 years of official efforts to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church.

The journey comes full circle in a letter Elena Dorman received recently from a teacher at the Interdiocesan Orthodox Theological School in Smolenskwho had come across the two-volume edition of Fr. Alexander Schmemann stalks on Radio Liberty.

 I read these two volumes and don t want to let it out of my hands! she writes.   But I must return it to the library& I don t know if  I have the right to ask you to send it to me as well  for I am a private individual, but& I dare to ask you& I didn t know that there is such an organization called  Religious Books for Russia.  May God help you!  Thank you again and again!

Thanks to your generous help, RBR has been able to send books to the theological school in Smolenskand to believers across Russiawho would not have had been able to read them otherwise.  We ask for your help in continuing RBR s work and this spiritual journey that has helped so many people find a deeper understanding of Christ and Orthodoxy as Russiacontinues its long journey to true freedom.

 

RBR is currently preparing to mail a set of six books by Metropolitan Anthony, who represented the Moscow Patriarchate in Great Britain and was revered in Russiaand abroad, to the multitude of Seminaries across Russia.

A contribution of $100 can provide one seminary with a full set of these important books.

Vera Bouteneff
President
Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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November 2009

Dear Friends,

One of the most miraculous things about the mission of Religious Books for Russia is how so little can stretch so far.

In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, Christ fed a crowd of 5,000 people with five loaves and two fishes. A donation of $25 or $100 to RBR can turn into something miraculous, something much greater and more precious, as we see in recent letters of thanks from libraries, diocese, seminaries, and clergy from across Russia who have received the Word of Christ's Good News through works by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, Sophie Koulomzin, Fr. John Meyendorff, Fr. Thomas Hopko and other important theologians and educators of the Russian emigration.

In many ways these letters of thanks and stories of how these books have reached the distant edges of Russia and even spread far beyond are like Gospel stories. They are stories of the struggle for redemption and the promise of the Resurrection in Russia, where for so many decades religion was persecuted, where complicated conditions and very divergent standards of living across the country mean that ready access to spiritual sustenance in the form of high-quality religious literature is still far from a given.

$100 will supply a seminary or diocesan library with a set of eight books. RBR is now also donating to seminary libraries the 895 page "Collection of Articles of Fr. Alexander Schmemann," which was published in Russia last year.

In August, Igumen Innokenty, the secretary of the Birobidzhan diocesan administration, wrote to RBR's Moscow representative, Helen Dorman, to let her know about the religious education outreach efforts of Bishop Iosif, leader of the diocese, and how valuable RBR's contribution is

"Vladyka devotes great attention to equipping the library and filling its collection, since it has become popular among the poor people of our diocese. Truth be told, such poor people make up the majority. The Jewish Autonomous Region lives on subsidies from the federal budget since there aren't any major factories or enterprises on the territory of the region and we survive as best we can."

Fr. Igor Terentiev, RBR's grateful recipient in the Magadan region, wrote to Lena again recently to tell about the difficulties of life there and the great need that is filled by the books that she sends on behalf of RBR:

"Probably one of the biggest problems is religious literature," he writes. "If in Magadan it is accessible and there is more or less of a choice, it reaches villages in smaller amounts and there is not possibility of acquiring it for parishes due to its high cost."

Fr. Igor, who serves five villages spread over 300 kilometers, tries to order some books through the Internet, but due to the delivery distances, it becomes prohibitively expensive.

Thanks to RBR, he writes:

"we have received the opportunity to supply the Sunday Schools for children in two villages with [Sophia Koulomzin's] "Zakon Bozhii" and children's prayer books, and in the town of Susman we have supplied Fr. Thomas Hopko's "Osnovy Pravoslavie" for the adults who are studying."

One of our board members was recently in Cyprus and visited a Russian parish in Limassol famous for helping unfortunate women from the former Soviet Union trapped in the cruel sex trade. Among the books on display in the church are works by Sophie Koulomzin, brought from Moscow to Cyprus by Fr. Viktor, the parish's Russian priest.

"We love these books," said Fr. Viktor, breaking into a smile. "Whenever we go to Moscow we try to get her books."

Your generous contributions have made possible the remarkable journey of these books, from Magadan to Cyprus and underscored the reach, far beyond physical borders of Russia, as it works with your invaluable help, to spread the Word of Christ.

Please be generous!

Vera Bouteneff
President
Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!                                    May 2009

Dear Friends!

Orthodox Christian Holy Week coincided this year with a milestone in the world s popular culture: Susan Boyle, a previously unknown woman from a small village in Wales performed on a British talent search television show.  Her performance became one of the most-watched videos ever on YouTube.  In spite of the cruelly superficial expectations because of her appearance, through globalization and technology, the unexpected beauty of her voice became the triumph of a dream over doubts!

Similarly, through the same globalization and technology, the beauty of God s grace and of simple human contact, is bringing unexpected light to the darkest corners of the vast Russian land.  Recently, Lena Dorman, RBR s representative in Moscow, sent a shipment of books to Corrective Colony No. 7, a high security prison outside the city of Novgorod.  The prison has over 1100 inmates, nearly half of them incarcerated for murder.  It could be a hopeless place.   But thanks to the prison s energetic director, Vladimir Karagodin, and Archbishop Lev of Novgorod, the prison has a wooden church, built by the prisoners themselves, and the church has a small library.  Now their library has books by Fr. Schmemann and Fr. Hopko, and there is a small corner of light in Corrective Colony No. 7!

Your vital support for RBR s work has also made it possible for us to enter into an exciting new program of cooperation with the Sts. Cyril and Methodious Charitable Library Fund, a division of the Department of Religious Education and Catechization of the Moscow Patriarchate, which sends books everywhere from Sunday schools to village libraries. The Fund has requested RBR s books for distribution, underscoring their importance to Russia:

 Many years are needed for theological thought, and likewise the catechetical mission of the Church, which was not able to develop in Soviet times to attain a worthy arsenal, including books, in which our spiritually afflicted fellow countrymen would learn of the Church and its Sacraments,

 writes Svetlana Rudneva of the Fund in her letter to RBR.

A donation of $100 will send out 75 books

Mrs. Dorman was also instrumental in organizing a conference devoted to Fr. Schmemann s legacy at the Yuriev Monastery, one of the landmarks of medieval Novgorod.  It would have been impossible to imagine, just several years ago, a conference devoted to Fr. Schmemann, who was regarded by some in the Russian Orthodox Church as a subversive liberal.  Now, his works, and those of other émigré theologians are regarded as a living heritage vital both to the Russian church and to Russian society.

RBR has already been able to supply all of the seminaries and theological academies of the Russian Orthodox Church with copies of the Diaries, and we have started distributing a new, very comprehensive and expensive volume of Fr. Schmemann s works, a collection of all of his articles.

A donation of $150 will send the new book to 12 seminaries

RBR continues its cooperation with the Russian State Library of Foreign Literature in sending books to regional and municipal libraries across Russia.

A donation of $200 will supply 15 libraries

With your help RBR is bringing the light of Christ into both bright and dark corners of a country that is still struggling to overcome the long-term effects of 70 years of atheism and is now dealing with the impact of a financial crisis.  This financial crisis has stricken Russia harder than most other countries, particularly in the distant Russian provinces.  Life there is more difficult than ever, making the light of RBR s books all the more important.


Sincerely yours,


Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary


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November 2008

Dear Friends!


We are living in interesting times, of tense relations between Russian and the United States and financial hardship around the world. It is in times like this that many people turn to their faith in God to carry them through trials and tribulations.

It is also in times like this that we should remember how little it takes to do a world of good, as your donations to Religious Books for Russia's mission of delivering Orthodox books by such great theologians as Fr. Alexander Schmemann and Fr. John Meyendorff have shown time and again.

One of the places to which RBR is now sending books is Kolyma, in the depths of the northeastern Siberian region of Magadan, near the Arctic. In Russian, the name is a synonym for hell, immortalized in the works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Yevgenia Ginzburg and Varlaam Shalamov as the most brutal place in the Soviet Gulag.

We must thank God that the days of the Gulag are over and people can live there in peace, but life there is still extremely difficult, as Father Igor Terentiev, one of three priests each serving several parishes on a territory spread over hundreds of square miles, writes in a letter to Lena Dorman, RBR's Moscow representative, who has been supplying him with books for which he is endlessly grateful:


"Thank you for the books! Here on the edge of the country it is indeed difficult to find the books one needs," he writes, and says that people in Magadan feel so cut off they refer to the rest of Russia as "the mainland."

"Of course there are no [concentration] camps here now," he continues, but the government's promises to improve life have not materialized. "Unless there is some kind of stabilization, the prospects are not rosy."


Your donations were able to bring him, and his flock, much-needed joy and spiritual sustenance. We have also sent him something of which he was dreaming as he traveled the rough roads of Kolyma to serve his far-flung parishes: a complete DVD set of the sermons of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom.

Father Igor's story is one of countless heartwarming stories that are the results of RBR's work, made possible by your generous donations. In times like this, we need to make an even greater effort to help those in Kolyma and across Russia have access to the religious books we sometimes take for granted because they are so easy for us to acquire.

Only the major cities have enjoyed the full fruits of Russia's economic boom of recent years. Life remained hard in the provinces, and it will only get harder.

Your gracious donations have enabled us to complete the distribution of books to 585 State Regional Libraries. We now plan to continue this distribution to all the far flung local libraries.


Your donations are essential at this time.


$200 will supply 15 libraries in towns that otherwise would have little or no access at all to books by Father Schmemann, Father Meyendorff, Father Thomas Hopko, Father John Breck and Sophie Koulomzin.

$100 will provide a parish with 30 books. There that we could help with your generous donation. There are so many incredible people and believers like Fr. Terentiev that we could help with your generous donation.

$35 will send 10 books to a seminary.


Please be as generous as you can so we can help them all!


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Spring 2008


Dear Friends,

Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!

Try to imagine what Pascha was like in a Soviet hospital as little as twenty years ago. It was still illegal for the Church to conduct any charity work and priests could not carry out one of the most vital parts of their vocation: they could not minister to the sick and dying, to those thirsting for both physical and spiritual healing.

We've all heard horrible tales of medical care in russia, but we don't hear enough about changes for the better. The russian Orthodox Church is now playing an active role in the medical system, even running some hospitals and training syostry miloserdie or "sisters of mercy," a term that was banned in Soviet times and replaced by the utilitarian medsestra, or "medical sister."

Doctors across russia are now able to work together to apply Orthodox Christian principles to medical care in a changing world. Associations of Orthodox Doctors have been created in all 67 dioceses of the russian Orthodox Church.

And now, thanks to your generous donations, religious Books for russia is part of this exciting transformation in the russian medical system. Your contributions have made it possible for our devoted Moscow representatives, Elena Dorman and Dmitry Petrov, to supply all 67 of the country's local Associations of Orthodox Doctors with copies of Fr. John Breck's "The Sacred Gift of Life."

As a letter received by Elena from Archbishop Mark of Khabarovsk and Priamurye in the russian Far East testifies, there is a great need for additional copies of Fr. Breck's book.

In Khabarovsk, there is a medical university, a medical school and an Orthodox sisterhood. Most importantly, three years ago the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary was opened, at which the future pastors of the Far East, the Transbaikal region and Yakutia are trained. The seminary has a capacity of 150 students, with 30 people in each year. We think this book is of interest in educating and establishing future pastors.

We ask you, if possible, to send as many copies of "
The Sacred Gift of Life" for the use of the Khabarovsk diocese and of the Khabarovsk Theological Seminary as you see fit.

Unfortunately, we have no copies of the book left! We can purchase them, but we need your help to do so. We need your help to grant his request. Your donation of $100 can supply an entire diocese with enough copies of Fr. Breck's "Sacred Gift of Life," to immeasurably enrich the vocation of doctors and pastors. remember, there are 67 dioceses in russia, and we have started to help all of them, but all of them have medical school, hospitals and seminaries in need of more copies of "Sacred Gift of Life." With your generous donations we can continue to help all of them!

In fact, our Moscow Representative has asked to purchase 2200 of various titles, to meet her requests. Please help us to make this possible!

Your contributions are already making it possible to continue one of our most ambitious on going projects, supplying every library in russia with books by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, Sophie Koulomzin and Fr. Thomas Hopko.

So far we have supplied 585 libraries from Belgorod near the Ukrainian border, to Novosibirsk, in the heart of Siberia. We are heartened and humbled by the letters of thanks that Elena Dorman has received and by your generous contributions, which will bring these books to all 3000 libraries in russia. N.P. Fomina, director of acquisitions of the Altai regional Universal Library writes:

The Aquisitions department of the library expresses profound thanks forthe religious literature you have sent to supplement our collection& We wish you success in your work on spreading the spiritual heritage of russia and we hope to continue our cooperation with you.

With your generous financial contribution you can make this happen!

Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Fall 2007

Dear Friends

Lake Baikal is one of the most beautiful places in the world, where the beauty and purity of nature speak of the mystery of God's Creation. It is also one of the most recent points across Russia's huge expanse to which your donations have enabled Religious Books for Russia to deliver much-needed books.

Thanks to you, the church and library in the village of Khuzir, on a small island in Lake Baikal, now have copies of Fr. Alexander Schmemann's "The Eucharist," Sophie Koulomzin's "Stories About Saints," and Fr. John Meyendorff's "Living Tradition," to name just a few. Our mailing also included Fr. Schmemann's "Diaries," which continues to be a bestseller in Moscow but is impossible to buy in such a distant village as Khuzir.

These books truly ended up there by God's Providence. One of the residents of Khuzir, Sergei Yermeyev, is a graduate of St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. Elizabeth Lopukhin, the daughter of Sophie Koulomzin visiting Baikal this past July with her family, learned not only that Baikal is a very big lake, but also that the world truly is very small. Completely by chance, they met Sergei and learned that he has returned to Russia and is helping the revival of Orthodoxy by building a church in Khuzir. Now you too have made a vital contribution with this donation of books!

Our next project is a targeted distribution of Fr. John Breck's "The Sacred Gift of Life" to Orthodox doctors. Associations of Orthodox Doctors now exist across Russia. They are vital in bringing mercy and compassion to a medical system more often known for its shortages and harshness. With your help we can reach out to these doctors who are doing God's work.

Your support is needed more than ever to get started on this new project.

We continue receiving letters from dioceses and seminaries. From Kemerovo, a hardscrabble mining center in Western Siberia, Bishop Aristarkh of Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk writes.

"They are a treasure of spiritual literature and will be sent to libraries and educational institutions of the Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk Dioceses ...We ask you to send an additional 10-20 copies of Metropolitan Antony's "Pastirstvo" for the Novokuznetsk Theological Seminary. "

From Buryatia, a republic of the Russian Federation located in the Lake Baikal region, with a large native Buddhist population and known for its datsans, or Buddhist monasteries, the acquisitions department director of the State University Research Library writes.

"We express our great thanks to you for your gift of books. At present, representatives of over 110 nationalities belonging to the major religions live on the territory of Buryatia... Studying and understanding the spiritual experience of our forefathers has become a pressing need in our time."

$200 is enough to supply 15 libraries.
$100 will send "The Sacred Gift of Life" to 30 doctors
$35 can supply a seminary with 10 books!

Please be generous!

Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Spring 2007

Dear Friends,

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

This year's early Easter was celebrated under swirling snow in Russia, but as always the joy of Christ's Resurrection brings news of a spiritual awakening.

Thanks to your generous donations, Religious Books for Russia continues its mission of bringing much-needed works of such leading theologians of the Orthodox Church in America as the late Father Alexander Schmemann and Father John Meyendorff to libraries and seminaries across the former Soviet Union.

Your donations have made it possible to expand RBR's distribution network through a growing partnership with Moscow's State Library for Foreign Literature. The library has embarked on a new round of mailings for RBR. Five hundred libraries across Russia will receive a set of four RBR books. Your donation of $100 provides for five libraries!

Yekaterina Genieva, the director of the Foreign Literature Library has also introduced us to an exciting new initiative. Thanks to the library's new partnership with the Kursk Oblast, a region of south central Russia near the Ukrainian border, RBR will be providing sets of books to hundreds of libraries across Kursk. This will be RBR's first effort to fully cover a single region, made possible by your generosity. It is very appropriate that this region is Kursk, which was the birthplace of St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of the most beloved of Russian saints, who greeted everyone in all seasons with the words "Christ is Risen!"

Even as RBR increases its outreach to secular libraries, the drive to supply spiritual libraries continues at full force. Letters continue to flow in from towns large and small, thanking RBR and its Moscow staff, Lena Dorman and Dimitry Petrov, for their distribution efforts and asking for more books.

A letter from the Smolensk Theological Seminary indicates that even in a city that is an important center of the Russian Orthodox Church, funds are short:

"Your help is especially important for our school since our limited means do not always allow us to supply our library collection with the necessary literature."

Even as we launch into such a big, new project, we would like you to know that RBR's mission of serving anyone who requests our literature continues. Books continue to be sent to parishes, lay organizations and individuals who find out about RBR or are found by RBR.

In one of the most touching requests, made just before this appeal was sent out, the charities department of the Moscow Patriarchate requested a donation of children's literature from RBR for the Children of Chernobyl. These are the children of people who were resettled from the zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, the 20th anniversary of which was marked on April 26, and the scientists and rescue workers who risked their lives to alleviate as much as possible its horrifying consequences. Many children born even years after the Chernobyl disaster are victims of the deadly radiation. Dmitry Petrov, RBR's devoted Moscow volunteer, delivered 150 books by Sophie Koulomzin for distribution to these innocent victims of one of the greatest disasters in history.

All of these projects, big and small, are an integral part of RBR's work in Russia, and none of them would be possible without your help.

Please be generous and send us your check today !

Sincerely yours,

Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Fall 2006

Dear Friends,

To us in America, obtaining books by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff, Fr. John Breck and Sophie Koulomzin, seems like the easiest thing in the world. They are in our parish library, or we click on the Saint Vladimir's Seminary or Amazon.com Web sites, punch in our credit cards and the books we want are in our hands within days.

Russia has transformed miraculously from Soviet atheism, when such books were illegal, to a point where books by these leading Orthodox religious thinkers are published in Russia.

"The Diaries of Fr. Alexander Schmemann" are the sensation of the literary season. Lena Dorman, Religious Books for Russia's Moscow representative, edited the Russian edition. The diaries' success has stoked demand for Fr. Alexander's books.

In Russia today, however, it is often complicated to obtain them. Moscow is full of luxury items, such as $600 shoes, but in the provinces, in Siberia's far corners and even in towns such as Tver, just a few hours drive from Moscow, spiritual hunger is exacerbated by logistical problems. Credit cards are for now a prerogative of the rich and while the Internet is available across the country, Amazon.com as we know it is for now but a dream in Russia.

Think of Religious Books for Russia as a kind of Amazon.com in reverse.

This spring, your generous contributions to Religious Books for Russia funded a targeted mailing to libraries across Russia.

We worked with Moscow's State Library for Foreign Literature to mail sets of four books to the main regional libraries across Russia, from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, 11 time zones away!

Although these libraries are the best in their regions, they are often critically short of funds. Such books are a luxury to them, but we would like to change that. Your contributions funded an invaluable addition to their catalogue. Now readers can borrow from state libraries, books that were banned in the atheist Soviet state.

Lena Dorman received the following letter from the Tver Regional Library:

"The Tver Regional Library thanks you for your gift of books. We do not have these books in our collections," writes one of the chief librarians, Lyubov Ivanova. "and the books you have are valuable for research and will be located in the reading room. If you are able to send one more copy each of the books of Meyendorff, Schmemann and Breck, we will be able to make them available for readers to take home."

Of course we sent them the books. Thanks to Religious Books for Russia  thanks to you! these books can now be checked out of Russian libraries.

For over 25 years, your support has been essential to getting books to believers in Russia.

Your support is as essential as ever. The possibilities and need for expanding the target audience of Religious Books for Russia are greater than ever.

With your help, your contributions, we sent vital books to 89 libraries across Russia, to places that Amazon.com can only dream of.

Our goal is to send these books to all 3000 of these libraries! Your donation of $100 will supply 5 libraries, each with a set of four books.

Thank you for your contribution to Religious Books for Russia.

We look forward to your generous support now and in the future!

Sincerely yours,

Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary

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Spring 2006


Dear Friends!
 
We are thrilled to report to you that your response to RBR's fall appeal has enabled us to launch an exciting new project in Russia that conveys the hope and joy of the Paschal season.

Thanks to your generous donations we are beginning to distribute books to libraries across all of Russia's 11 time zones.
 
The distribution is being facilitated by Moscow's State Library of Foreign Literature, one of the most progressive cultural institutions in the country, which is dedicated to promoting education and tolerance. The library even has a division devoted to the religious literature of the Russian emigration.
 
A collection of four books --Fr. Alexander Schmemann's "Liturgy and Tradition," Fr. John Meyendorff's "Living Tradition," Fr. John Breck's "The Sacred Gift of Life," and Sophie Koulomzin's "Zakon Bozhii",("God's Word"), is being mailed to 89 regional libraries in Russia. That is, to the leading state library in each of the regions of the Russian Federation.
 
These are some of the titles that have had the greatest impact on readers in Russia who have received books from RBR.
 
Thanks to you, they will now be available in libraries from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok and places in Siberia and the Arctic that many of us have never heard and in many of which readers would have no hope of finding these books.
 
Each parcel of books is being sent with a letter about the history and work of ­Religious Books for Russia. Readers are provided contact information to request further books -- and encouraged to provide feedback on the books they have read. All of this is made possible by your generous donations!
 
This is truly an Easter miracle. State libraries that were once repositories of the collected works of Marx and Lenin, will now have books from RBR on their shelves!
 
We hope this is just the beginning of an amazing project. Helen Dorman, RBR's representative in Moscow, met recently with the director of the Library of Foreign Literature, Yekaterina Genieva, to discuss the distribution possibilities. For less than $1,500 total it will be possible to expand the geography of distribution to 200 towns and cities. $15,000 will enable us, with the help of the Library, to send the books to 2,000 towns and cities. That is to nearly every library in Russia.
 
This is something we couldn't even have dreamed of in those years when RBR books were smuggled into Russia.
 
Even as we launch into such a big, new project, we would like you to know that RBR's mission of serving anyone who requests our literature continues. Books continue to be sent to parishes, lay
organizations and individuals who find out about RBR -or are found by RBR.
 
In one of the most touching requests, made just before this appeal was sent out, the charities department of the Moscow Patriarchate requested a donation of children's literature from RBR for the Children of Chernobyl. These are the children of people who were resettled from the zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, the 20th anniversary of which was marked on April 26, and the scientists and rescue workers who risked their lives to alleviate as much as possible its horrifying consequences. Many children born even years after the Chernobyl disaster are victims of the deadly radiation. Dmitry Petrov, RBR's devoted Moscow volunteer, delivered 150 books by Sophie Koulomzin for distribution to these innocent victims of one of the greatest disasters in history.
 
All of these projects, big and small, are an integral part of RBR's work in Russia, and none of them would be possible without your help.
 

Please be generous and send us your check today!


Sincerely yours,


Vera Bouteneff
President

Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary


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