Fall 2017

Dear Friends!

Thanks to your generous support, Religious Books for Russia (RBR) has embarked on an exciting new project. Your donations have made it possible to help fund the publication in Russia of much-needed Russian language translations of the Baptism and Wedding services by Henri Volokhonsky, a prominent emigre poet and translator who died in 2017. The translations are being published by Artos Creative Fellowship for Contemporary Christian Culture.

Church Slavonic can be incomprehensible to many Russians, making it very difficult to understand the meaning of services.  A transition to Russian in Liturgical life was being discussed in the early 20th century, but the turmoil of the Bolshevik Revolution put an end to such efforts. Although Patriarch Kirill I has endorsed the idea of expanding the use of Russian in services, little is being done on a practical level to bring this about.

Artos, founded by Sergei Chapnin, a former editor of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate, stepped in with the brilliant idea of republishing Volokhonsky’s translation.

Volokhonsky emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1973. The translation of the Baptism service was first published in the 1980s in “The Path,” (Путь) an Orthodox almanac published at Christ the Savior Church in Manhattan, when Fr. John Meyendorff was the rector.  As the number of emigres from the former Soviet Union grew, the need for the translation became ever greater. In 1986  it received the blessing of the late Bishop Peter (L’Huillier), a prominent French scholar who had converted to Orthodoxy as a young man and was then the Bishop of New York and New Jersey

“Without exaggeration it can be said that the translation of liturgical texts into modern Russian by Henri Volokhonsky is an important part of Orthodox liturgics of the 20th century and can justly be regarded as that part of church heritage that is carefully preserved by the Orthodox Church in America,” says Chapnin.

“The goal of the new edition is to make this translation maximally convenient for use in serving the Sacraments,” continues Chapnin, including such features as large print.

The Russian Orthodox Church is facing a difficult time on many levels. It is very important that the faithful understand more deeply what is at the essence of the church -- the Sacraments. Your support of this mission is essential!

RBR’s Moscow representative Elena Dorman, with the assistance of her daughter, Maria, continues with the original and unchanging mission of providing books by such great Orthodox emigre theologians and educators as Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff and Sophie Koulomzin to clergy and believers across Russia. This is vital at a time when Russia’s financial crisis continues to make life very difficult for very many, especially in the provinces.

Recently Maria received a letter of thanks from Fr. Igor Ilnitsky from the Kaliningrad region for books sent to him by RBR. Fr. Igor is the rector of the Church of the Transfiguration in the city of Zelenogradsk and director of the youth department of the Kaliningrad Diocese. Kaliningrad is an enclave the borders the European Union and to some extent benefits from that, but it too suffers from a shortage of serious Orthodox literature as Fr. Igor explains:

“Today every parish is called on to activate all of its efforts for the enlightenment of our people, for the education of the next generation in the Orthodox Faith. However we often encounter the predominance at church bookstands of reading materials of  extremely dubious quality. Without a doubt, the works of the leading theologians of the 20th century,  Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, Protopresbyter Nicholas Afanasiev, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, Protopresbyter John Meyendorff and many other authors are an invaluable contribution to the development of theological studies and likewise a breath of fresh air for contemporary Christians.”

Fr. Igor urges RBR to continue its work: “I hope that in the future you will continue to have the strength to translate works and Russian-speaking readers will become familiar with theological works that were previously unknown to them.”

Any donation, such as $100.00, can provide many books to churches, libraries, and individuals. In 2016 we distributed over 1400 books! By the grace of God we will continue our work, and expand it with this exciting new project! This work would be impossible without your support and generous donations!

Sincerely yours,

Vera Bouteneff
Olga Poloukhine
Executive Secretary