July 15, 2008, 10:56
The decision to unite the two branches of Russia’s Orthodox Church last year has changed the pattern of worshipping for many believers. More churches are now available and bilingual services are held in some places.
"We now are able to welcome guests from the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, so it enables unity among all orthodox Christians, not only the Russian branch of orthodox Christianity," says Father Zacchaeus, the dean of St. Catherine’s parish Church in central Moscow.
Father Zacchaeus grew up in the heaving metropolis of New York City, moving up through the ranks of the Orthodox Church of America before becoming its Representative to the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.
Father Zacchaeus has told RT a 16th century orthodox church at the heart of old Moscow is a "sort of church equivalent of an embassy". In 1994, it was transferred to the U.S. Orthodox Church.
Bilingual services - in Church Slavonic and English - have been a tradition from the very start.
Despite the traditional Russian exterior the church fulfils a unique purpose. For English speaking orthodox Christians in Moscow it provides a taste of home. And for Russians, who now make up the majority of the congregation, it provides a window onto a more international brand of orthodoxy.
Though St. Catherine’s church is opened for orthodox Christians and religious services are being celebrated, the building is still being reconstructed to rebuild its past glory after 70 years of neglect during Soviet times.
The old rectory is now occupied by Russia’s federal security service, church wardens say.