Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church
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This is the church of New Martyr Grand Dutchess Elizabeth in St.-Petersburg. It was built in 1994-1996 in the new region of the city by Protopriest Alexander Zharkov. In 1997 Father Alexander with his parish left Moscow Patriarchate for ROCOR and was killed 3 months later, on September 14, 1997. The parish left ROCOR after the letter of ROCOR bishops to Serbian Hierarchy and was received to ROAC on September 14, 1999, the day of the Martyric death of Father Alexander.

This is Father Alexander Zharkov. He was a man of really holy life. He was very modest and devoted to Christ from his childhood. Almost everyone who met him - be they believing, weak in faith or completely unbelieving, learned or simple and uneducated - all were drawn to him by feelings of respect and trust, although he never deliberately tried to make anyone like him. He simply had a certain light in him, and people perceived that with their hearts.

The enemies hoped that the death of Father Alexander will stop the activity of True Orthodox Church in St.-Petersburg. But the blood of Martyrs only strengthens the Church. The parish saved the church from MP (although the services were held at the apartment for a couple of years) and at the end of 1999 the building was opened, and now the services are every day there.

This is our parish priest Father Gregory (Lourie). He is a Byzantinist and a very educated person. He knows more then 30 languages including many ancient ones. Besides he helps young people who are possessed with the idea of suicide. Father Gregory has recently opened a rehabilitation center for them. And now he is opening a specialized department in a psychiatric hospital for such people.

On the picture you can see also monk Dimitry. He received Orthodoxy and was tonsured in Suzdal although his father is a Lutheran priest in St.Petersburg. I hope his very kind and nice father will also convert to Orthodoxy one day.

This is another Dimitry, our choir precentor. He graduated from the MP seminary in the city of Saratov and entered the "Theological Academy" of MP in St.Petersburg. He was the best student there, but studying there he realized the falsehood of MP and left. They were all surprised in his "Academy" and decided he was going to study abroad. But now he studies in the Philosophical department of St.Petersbutg University and does it excellently, because he is very smart. He lives right in the church. MP got very mad when they learned he is with ROAC now.

This is the moment when priest is receiving Holy Communion in altar and the writtings of Holy Fathers are read. The lady in black jacket near the lectern runs parish Sunday school.

And the tall man in a gray jacket is Anatoly, a retired military man. He lives in the city of Sosnovi Bor that is 3 hours from St.Petersburg by train. They have a small community there, but they have not got a priest yet. So they do reader services there and come to St.Petersbutg for liturgies. When Anatoly first came to that community in Sosnovi Bor, they gave him some readings in Church Slavonic, that is very difficult for a newcomer. But Anatoly started to read very well. They asked him "Have you learned Church Slavonic?" and he answered "We, the militaries, have no time to learn. We should do everything well from the very beginning".

This is our Altar servicer Tarasius and his wife Irina. They look like hooligans here, but actually they are very pious people. Besides they are great travelers, they can live in a forest, climb the mountains and sail a kayak. I do not think it is prohibited for Christians.

Great Entrance. Altar boys Kirill and Stephan.

Victor Lebedev and two of his children: Paraskeva and Maxim. He also has a small daughter Eva. They are a very poor family, because Victor is seriously ill, but they teach their children music. Btw, under the icons you can see the texts of the prayers. People that come from the street like this idea. Otherwise, as they say "you are standing near the icon not knowing what to say":-)

Tatiana Senina, who wrote the life of St.Philaret of New York. She has the gift of writing services and she composed some good services to St.Kirill of Kazan and St.Joseph of Petrograd, to St.Ludmila of Czech, to St.Philaret of New York and some other. Now she changed the genre. She is writing a novel about St. Kassia, the author of the heirmio of the Canon of Great Saturday. Tatiana even studied the Greek to read Kassia's works in the original, and he studies also the Byzantine History. It will be a missionary book to show to the readers the beauty of True Orthodoxy. I hope the book will overshadow the "Quo vadis" :-)

Gregory Benevich, his wife Olga and their two sons near the church fence. Gregory is a lecturer in St.Petersburg Institute of Religion and Philosophy. His elder son plays the trumpet. They moved to ROAC from ROCOR.

This is Valerij, he is a truck-driver. His wife Elena (a school teacher) and their children Ann and Ivan are our parishioners too. Ann is a student in the mentioned Institute of Religion and Philosophy, and she converted her fiance to Orthodoxy.

My good friend and colleague Olga in the day of her first Communion. She is one of the most loved lecturers in our department of Applied Linguistics in the University.

Sophia (8 years old) at the choir loft.

Side door to the altar.

Another door. The view to the trees near the church. You can find mushrooms here in autumn.

This is Father Gregory again. As you can see, the altar wall is very modest. But we hope to make it beautiful one day... One of the four kerchiefs here is mine:-)

Most of the pictures on this page (c) Nune Barseghyan

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