See a sample of RBR books being distributed

Catherine Lvoff, who started RBR after visiting family in the Soviet Union in 1979 traveled to the USSR as everyone did in those days bringing useful gifts. Her relatives, however, told her that what they needed more than food or clothing was spiritual food—prayer books and Orthodox spiritual reading material which were impossible for them to obtain. Inspired, “Katia” started RBR, becoming a “smuggler,” as she often described herself.  She recruited other “smugglers” to risk carrying a few Bibles and prayer books in their luggage when they went to Russia as tourists or students.

As the years went on, RBR translated, published and distributed books by Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Fr. John Meyendorff and Fr. Thomas Hopko, thanks to donors who supported RBR from its earliest days. With Perestroika, books could be sent to Russia more easily—but at considerable expense. The end of the Soviet Union in August 1991 presented RBR with the possibility of printing books in Russia so that money could be spent on more books rather than on shipping costs. In 1991, Catherine Lvoff fell asleep in the Lord. Sophie Koulomzin, an expert in the area of children's religious education, took on the leading role. She devoted enormous creative energy to RBR during her final decade of life, writing new books: Lives of Saints, a church history for young people and a children’s catechism and prayer book.

RBR’s Moscow office became a reality when Helen Dorman was recruited as Representative in Russia. Helen knows the people and their needs and has the contacts to arrange publication of our books on site. She rented space to serve as a warehouse and distribution center for the books which, as always, are provided free of charge. Helen receives requests for books from individuals living in distant villages, from people responsible for religious education programs in orphanages, prisons and schools, and from priests in parishes all over Russia. Gifts by patrons of RBR during the ’90s were instrumental in publishing several of Mrs. Koulomzin’s new books as well as more writings of Frs. Schmemann, Meyendorff and Hopko, and in purchasing books by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom and other Western Orthodox thinkers. These books certainly contributed to the spiritual liberation of the Russian people during that decade of political change.

After the repose of Sophie Koulomzin in September 2000, Vera Bouteneff assumed the leadership of RBR. The board membership has remained fairly constant over the years. The volunteer board helps maintain continuity and focus on RBR’s original purpose of contributing, through an extensive network, to the spiritual support of Orthodoxy in Russia by providing essential religious and theological books and writings. RBR continues to distribute these
books without charge—catechisms, prayer books and serious theological reading—to as many needy people and organizations as we can. And entering the digitial age, RBR now also supports online organizations like Christian.ru that distribute books digitally, greatly expanding the number of people gaining access to such works.

 Most of the physical barriers we faced in our early days are gone. Our greatest limitation today is a financial one. The hard work and creativity of RBR’s authors, leaders, board members and Moscow representative have brought spiritual enlightenment to many thousands of people only with the gracious support of our long-time friends and patrons.

We ask again for your generous contribution as we look forward to our continued work for Russia’s spiritual renewal.