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NY Times - A Russian Church Founded to Preserve a Religion Celebrates 75 Years

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  • paul_kulesha
    A Russian Church Founded to Preserve a Religion Celebrates 75 Years NY Times By MICHELLE YORK Published: September 5, 2005 JORDANVILLE, N.Y., Sept. 4 - Amid
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2005
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      A Russian Church Founded to Preserve a Religion Celebrates 75 Years

      NY Times
      Published: September 5, 2005

      JORDANVILLE, N.Y., Sept. 4 - Amid the rolling hills of cornfields and
      dairy farms in this sparsely populated hamlet, a cluster of gold
      domes atop buildings reach toward the sky.

      The domes are one of the few signs that Jordanville, a farming and
      recreational community in the Adirondack foothills near Utica, is as
      important to some Christians as Bethlehem or Vatican City may be to

      Thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church come here, some
      traveling from the far corners of the country, to attend services at
      Holy Trinity Church, study at its adjacent seminary or visit its
      museum and library.

      The church was in full glory yesterday as it celebrated its 75th

      "This is the spiritual center of the church outside of Russia, and it
      will always exist," said the Rev. Deacon Vladimir Tsurikov, assistant
      dean of the seminary.

      Two immigrants started Holy Trinity Monastery and the church amid 300
      acres of farmland - purposefully choosing one of the most rural
      settings they could find so that worshipers could practice their
      faith in peace and better ensure that the orthodox traditions that
      were being suppressed in the Soviet Union would be preserved.

      Since that time, hundreds of Russian Orthodox priests have been
      educated at the seminary and assigned to parishes all over the world.
      Until Communism fell, Holy Trinity's onsite printing facility was one
      of the few places where the faith's spiritual literature could be
      found. (Literature published here was often smuggled back to the
      Soviet Union.)

      "It's beyond just a church," said Nika Zaikoff, 25, a worshiper.

      After her grandfather fled the Soviet Union to seek religious
      freedom, he found his way to Holy Trinity Church. His family kept
      practicing their religion through the generations, even after one of
      his children settled in Michigan.

      While growing up, Mrs. Zaikoff traveled with her family from Michigan
      each year to attend Easter services at Jordanville. She met her
      husband through the church, and the young couple and their two
      children make up one of the dozen Russian Orthodox families who have
      settled in Jordanville.

      "The people you meet here form a bond," she said as she tucked a lock
      of hair back under her headscarf, part of the traditional dress for
      women when they are on the grounds of the church. "It's a place of
      home, even if you don't live here."

      For those who do live here, the larger community has maintained a
      distant but cordial relationship. "They're very good people," said
      Martha Vanderwey, who runs Aunt Martha's Bed and Breakfast, Richfield
      Fields, a neighboring town.

      She and her husband attended a church service once. "It was more of a
      curiosity thing," she said. "But everyone was very nice."

      To observe the 75th anniversary, hundreds of people stood throughout
      a four-hour service, with dozens of people spilling from the
      overfilled church, standing on steps and listening to the prayers at
      windows. The service, in Russian, began and ended with processions,
      in which worshipers walked around the church. Cars lined the road,
      with license plates from New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland,
      Michigan and Mississippi, among other places.

      Holy Trinity is still expanding. It has bought 95 additional acres of
      land over the last two decades, some of which it rents out to farmers
      or uses to house members of the congregation.

      While members of the Russian Orthodox Church now are free to practice
      their faith in Russia, the freedom and modernization there have
      created new complexities. Newer members here are less likely to speak
      Russian or keep up with old traditions, Father Tsurikov said.

      Still, he has no doubt that the Holy Trinity Church in Jordanville
      will ever lose its appeal. "Those who want to can return to Russia,"
      he said. "But this place will always draw the faithful."

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