Russian Orthodox Churches in Germany, which amaze us

Russian Orthodox Churches in Germany

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Traveling through Germany, our compatriots are often surprised when they see the familiar onion domes of Russian churches in front of them. When, how, and for what reasons did Russian Orthodox churches emerge on German soil?

The first reason was political and diplomatic.

The first Russian church in Germany was founded more than 300 years ago, in 1718 in Berlin, by the Russian diplomatic representation during the reign of Peter the Great. It was a Russian marching church. The Orthodox congregation consisted mainly of diplomats, merchants, and travelers. Later appeared such churches at diplomatic missions in Kiel, Hamburg, Regensburg and Frankfurt.

For Tsar Peter I in the war against Sweden for access to the Baltic Sea was important ally in the person of Prussia. A favorite pastime of Frederick William I, the “soldier king,” was the training of his personal guard, which consisted of tall soldiers, whom he affectionately called “my long lads. Aware of this weakness of the king, Peter I sent him in 1714. Knowing this weakness of the king, in 1714 Peter I sent him a “living gift” – a detachment of soldiers of 80 men, and two years later another 80 “big men”.

In 1716 in Hafelberg a declaration on mutual military aid was signed between Peter I and the King of Prussia. The successful signing was accompanied by gifts: Peter I received the Amber Room and a yacht, while Friedrich Wilhelm I received a barge with 10 sailors, 55 soldiers, armed with Tula rifles, 20 Prussian horses and two white bears. In total, Peter I sent to the Prussian king 248 Russian soldiers. Catherine I and Anna Ioannovna also replenished the Royal Regiment with Russian soldiers.

The Prussian king understood the importance of confession of faith for the soldiers of his diverse army and invited priests of different denominations. The first Russian soldiers were accompanied in Prussia by an Orthodox priest, and the church utensils for the first parish were donated by Tsar Peter I himself.

Different rooms were used for services, and it was not until 1734 that the first Russian church building was consecrated in Potsdam, and it was a simple two-story half-timbered house.

Frederick II, later called Great, who ascended the throne in 1740, disbanded his father’s legendary Grenadier Regiment. Only a few Russian soldiers managed to return to their homeland. In 1750 Frederick II gives the building of the Russian church to the theater.

Half a century passed, the Napoleonic wars quickly and often changed the political situation in Europe. Russia and Prussia became at this time allies and enemies, depending on Napoleon’s victories. In 1812. Prussia fights on the side of France. Russian soldiers, taken prisoner by the Prussian corps in Courland, were sent to Prussia. One day, while accidentally passing by the Russian captives, Friedrich Wilhelm III heard them singing and ordered that the best singers be selected and sent to Potsdam. The Russian military choir of 21 men was formed there.

On 1 January 1813 Russian troops crossed the Niemen and Napoleon’s army was defeated in the war with Russia. Already in February Russia and Prussia signed the Treaty of Kalish. Two weeks later Friedrich Wilhelm III officially declared war on France. On April 24 the Prussian king and the Russian tsar entered Dresden together.

Alexander I leaves the Russian singers in the Prussian service at the request of the Prussian monarch. As part of the Prussian First Guards Regiment they reached Paris. By this time, due to deaths and other reasons, the number of the choir had dwindled to twelve.

To ensure the choir’s continued existence, Alexander I sent seven grenadiers from the Russian regiment to Potsdam.

A model Russian village of 12 wooden houses surrounded by gardens was built for Russian soldier-singers on the outskirts of Potsdam in 1827 and named “Alexandrovka” after Alexander I. In 1829 the church of St. Alexander Nevsky was consecrated.

The project was developed by the Russian court architect Vasily Stasov, and the German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, a leading Prussian architect of the Classicism period, was responsible for its implementation on site. Alexander Nevsky Church is the oldest Russian Orthodox church in Western Europe. The first service was attended by Russian Emperor Nicholas I and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna, the eldest daughter of Friedrich Wilhelm III.

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The iconostasis, which survives to this day, was made in Prussia according to sketches by Russian craftsmen, with additions made by Schinkel.The icons were brought from Russia. One of them was a gift from Empress Alexandra Feodorovna.

Since 1999, the church and Alexandrovka are part of the World Cultural Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO.

The second reason is dynastic marriages.

German princesses marrying grand dukes of the Romanov family had to adopt the Orthodox Faith, while Russian princesses marrying foreign ruling houses remained Orthodox. At first, specially for them and the Russian courtiers who came with them were arranged house Orthodox churches in separate rooms at the palaces. The first house church was in the palace of Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter I, who married the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp.

Later house Orthodox churches arose in Stuttgart, Weimar, Ludwigslust, Karlsruhe, Coburg, and Schwerin. Orthodox communities were formed around them.

After the death of Russian grand duchesses, they tried to bury them in specially built for this purpose Orthodox shrines.

A striking example of such a temple is the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wiesbaden. There is a romantic and at the same time tragic story connected with this temple.

Grand Duchess Elisabeth (14 May 1826 – 28 January 1845) was the second daughter of Grand Duke Mikhail Pavlovich, brother of Tsar Nicholas I. The daughters of the tsar and Prince Michael were very friendly. At about the same time in the house of the Romanovs there were six brides to be given away. Eligible parties were princes from various German kingdoms, principalities, or duchies. The Tsar’s wife and Prince Michael’s wife (German princesses themselves) conducted extensive correspondence with representatives of the various German ruling houses in order to find suitable suitors. They also went with their daughters to “waters” abroad.

The first meeting between Princess Elisabeth and Duke Adolf of Nassau took place in Bad Ems. The 14-year-old princess so liked the 23-year-old Duke that he soon asked her mother for her hand. But in the house of the Romanovs in such matters the permission of the Tsar played a major role. In time permission was obtained. Czar Nicholas I wanted to celebrate two weddings at the same time: his daughter Alexandra with the prince of Hesse-Cassel and Elisabeth with Adolf of Nassau, but because the crown, studded with diamonds, was one, so two weddings were played – the daughter of the tsar on 16 January 1844, and Elisabeth – January 19.

But the princesses were not born under a lucky star. Both did not live to be 20 and died after childbirth, Alexandra in St. Petersburg and Elazabeth in Wiesbaden. The children did not survive either.

Duke Adolphus was inconsolable and decided to build for his beloved an Orthodox sepulcher church, a tomb church in the name of Saint Righteous Elisabeth.

The duke wanted the church to be visible from his castle at Bibrich on the banks of the Rhine, where he and Duchess Elisabeth had spent the happy year of their marriage. The site of the church is a wonderful one – the densely forested Neroberg, one of the escarpments of the Taunus Mountains. The Neroberg towers over the whole town, and from here there is a wonderful panorama of the Hessian plains, the hills, and the city.

The church was built of light beige sandstone to make it stand out clearly against the dark forest, and for a greater contrast, spruces were planted behind the church. As if from an emerald pedestal, the white Russian temple shines far and wide. It stands on land that had been brought from Russia and consecrated according to the Orthodox rite.

The construction of the temple was entrusted to the German architect Philip Hoffmann. To make the temple look truly Russian, Hoffmann went to Moscow and St. Petersburg to study the styles of churches. At this time, the Russian-Byzantine style was flourishing in the capitals. In building the church in Wiesbaden, Hoffmann was not limited in means. At the request of the parents of the princess her dowry of one million silver rubles was not returned to Russia, as specified in the marriage contract, but went to the construction of the temple.

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The best specialists were invited, and for decoration were used selected varieties of marble: brown – German, gray – Swedish, light yellow – Rhodesian, white – Carrara, black and white – Egyptian. In a semi-circular niche is a sarcophagus of snow-white Carrara marble. The Duchess Elisabeth is represented asleep, with a wreath of roses on her head, her left hand resting on her heart and her right hand lowered. The sculptor Hopfgarten took as his model the tomb of Queen Louise of Prussia.

Emperor Nicholas II, accompanied by his wife Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, visited the Church of St. Elizabeth on October 18, 1896 in Wiesbaden. This event is commemorated by a gold plaque on the wall of the church.

Wishing to save this pearl of Orthodox architecture, Nicholas II not only bought the temple on his own money, but also a large tract of forest adjoining it, including the Russian Orthodox cemetery (consecrated in August 1856). This property now belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad.

(Ending follows)

Lyubov Fomicheva (Frankfurt am Main)

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The Germans (Deutschland ), officially the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland ), German Democratic Republic, is a state in Western Europe. According to the 2011 census, its population is more than 80 million people and the territory is 357,021 km², it is the largest country in Western Europe in terms of population. The country is the sixteenth largest country in the world in terms of population and sixty-second largest in terms of territory. The capital is Berlin. The official language is German. About 64% of the population is Christian.


Major cities [ edit ]

Summary table of temples and monasteries in Germany [ edit ]

Lands of Germany Temple Monastery
1 Baden-Württemberg Church of St. Nicholas (Stuttgart), Parish of Elijah the Prophet (Stuttgart), Shrine of St. Catherine on the Wurttemberg Hill (Stuttgart), Church of the Transfiguration (Baden-Baden), Parish of the Presentation of the Lord (Allen), Parish of St. Nektarios of Aegina and Blessed Procopius of Ustyug (Bischofsheim am Röhne), Parish of Righteous Joachim and Anna (Heidelberg), Parish of the Archangel Michael and all the Heavenly Hosts (Singen), Parish of Blessed Prokopy of Ustyug (Konstanz), Parish of the Epiphany (Pforzheim), Parish of Venerable Mary of Egypt (Tubingen), Parish of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker (Freiburg v-Breisgau), Church of the Mother of God “The Sign” Kursk-Korena icon (Ulm), Chapel of Martyrs Valentine and Pasikrat (Ulm), Church of Saint Alexander Nevsky (Mannheim)
2 Free State of Bavaria The Church of St. Michael (Munich), the Parish of the Resurrection (Munich), the Cathedral of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia and St. Nicholas (Munich), the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh (Bad Kissingen), the Church of St. Nicholas (Ingolstadt), Church of the Intercession of the Theotokos (Regensburg), Church-Chapel of the Resurrection in Dachau, Parish of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God (Altötting), Parish of the Holy Apostles (Bayreuth), Parish of St. Nina of the Apostles (Hof), Parish of St. Sebastian of Karaganda (Bamberg), Parish of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Würzburg), Parish of St. Seraphim of Sarov (Coburg), Parish of Blessed Xenia of Petersburg (Nuremberg), Parish of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Schweinfurt), the Church of the Icon of the Theotokos “Joy of All Who Sorrow” (Augsburg), the Church of the Martyrs Vera, Hope, Love and their Mother Sophia (Ettringen), the Church of St. Nicholas (Landshut), the Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (Straubing) Monastery of St. Job Pochaevsky (Munich), St. Elizabeth Monastery (Buchendorf)
3 Berlin Cathedral of the Resurrection (Berlin), St. Isidor of Rostov Parish (Berlin), Holy Ascension Church (Berlin), Holy Protection Church (Berlin), Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel (Berlin), the Church of St. Konstantin and Elena (Berlin), the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh (Berlin), the Church of Prince Vladimir Equal to the Apostles (Berlin), the Church of St. Sava (Berlin), the Church of St. Boris the Baptist (Berlin)
4 Brandenburg Church of St. Alexander Nevsky (Potsdam) St. George’s Monastery (Götschendorf)
5 Free Hanseatic City Bremen Church of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers (Bremen)
6 Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg The Church of St. John of Kronstadt (Hamburg), the Church of the Holy Myrrh-bearers (Hamburg), the Parish of St. Cyril and Methodius (Hamburg), the Church of Blessed Prokopius of Ustyug (Hamburg)
7 Hesse Church of St. Elizabeth (Wiesbaden), Church of All Saints (Bad Homburg), Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Darmstadt), Parish of Saints Cyprian and Justina (Frankfurt am Main), Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (Frankfurt am Main), Parish of the Icon of Our Lady “Zhirovitskaya” (Giessen), Parish of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (Kassel), Parish of the Meeting of the Lord (Fulda), Church of St. Innokenty and St. Seraphim of Sarov (Bad Nauheim)
8 Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Great Martyr Demetrius of Thessaloniki (Schwerin), Holy Ksenia of Saint Petersburg Parish (Rostock)
9 Lower Saxony Church of St. Nicholas (Gifhorn), Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Hannover), Parish of the Archangel Michael (Goettingen), Community of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sulingen), Church of the Holy Martyr Hilarion of Verea (Leer), Holy Resurrection Community (Lüneburg), Iveron Parish (Celle), St. Seraphim of Sarov Church (Kloppenburg), Nativity of Christ Church (Hanover), Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God (Hanover)
10 North Rhine-Westphalia Church of the Shroud of the Holy Virgin (Dusseldorf), Church of St. Sava (Dusseldorf), Church of Saints Constantine and Helen (Cologne), Church of the Holy Great Martyr Panteleimon (Cologne), Church of the Holy Great Martyr Barbara (Krefeld), Parish of Queen Tamara of Georgia (Aachen), the Parish of the Holy Apostle James (Bielefeld), the Parish of the Shroud of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Bonn), the Church of the Holy Martyrs Grand Duchess Elisabeth and nun Barbara (Wuppertal), Parish of the Holy Life-Giving Trinity (Dortmund), Parish of the Icon of Our Lady “Joy and Comfort” (Duisburg), Parish of the Saints Cosmas and Damian (Essen), Community of Princess Olga (Kleve), Parish of St. Anthony the Great (Mönchengladbach), Parish of the Holy Archangels (Neuss), Holy Transfiguration Church (Bielefeld), Church of Prince Vladimir Equal to the Apostles (Minden), Parish of the Kazan Icon of the Blessed Virgin (Muenster)
11 Rhineland-Palatinate Holy Queen Alexandra Church (Bad Ems), Holy Cross Parish (Bad Kreuznach), St. Vladimir Icon Community (Kaiserslautern), Holy Princes Boris and Gleb Parish (Koblenz), Martyr Christopher Parish (Mainz), Forty Martyrs of Sebastia Parish (Trier), St. Athanasius the Great Parish (Trier) Hermitage of St. Spiridon (Heilnau)
12 Saarland The parish of St. Panteleimon, the Great Martyr and Healer (Saarbrücken), The Parish of St. Eugenie (Saarbrücken)
13 Free State of Saxony The Church of St. Simeon Divnogorets (Dresden), Memorial Church of Russian Glory (Leipzig)
14 Saxony-Anhalt All Saints Parish (Magdeburg)
15 Schleswig-Holstein
16 Free State of Thuringia Shrine of Mary Magdalene (Weimar)
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Orthodoxy in Germany [ edit ]

Germany is not one of the traditionally Orthodox regions of Europe, for after 1054 the Christians of Germany remained within the zone of Catholic influence.

In the 16th century Protestantism began to spread in German lands, although a number of territories (Bavaria, Austria, etc.) remained faithful to Catholicism. The number of Orthodox Christians in the country has only begun to grow since the early 1960s when Germany attracted an influx of migrant workers from Eastern Europe. Russians and Russian-speakers now predominate among them, as well as Bulgarians, Romanians, Ukrainians, Moldavians, Serbs, Macedonians and others.

Until the 1990s, the Orthodox diaspora in Germany was mainly composed of Greeks (mainly economic migrants from post-war Greece). The number of Orthodox Christians in the country, according to various estimates, ranged from 1 to 2 million people, or 2% of the country’s total population.

On October 15, 2013, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch established the Metropolis of Germany and Metropolitan Isaac (Barakat) was elected its ruler.

The Diocese of Berlin and Germany [ edit ]

The Berlin and German Eparchy (German: Berliner Diözese der Russischen Orthodoxen Kirche) is a diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate that unites parishes in Germany. It was founded in 1921.

As of 2014 the diocese had 88 parishes, 60 priests, and 10 deacons. The diocese is divided into Northern, Bavarian-Hesse, Southern, Western, and Eastern parishes. Holy Resurrection Cathedral is the main (cathedral) cathedral of the diocese. The ruling bishop is Archbishop Theophanes of Berlin and Germany (from 1991; elevated to archbishop on February 25, 1996).

History [ edit ]

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Orthodox parishes and churches on German territory mainly arose under Russian diplomatic institutions and in places of most mass residence of Russian subjects (as a rule, in resort towns). The emergence of new parishes was facilitated by close family ties between the ruling dynasties and the aristocracy.

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After 1917, the Russian Orthodox population in Germany began to increase sharply due to the emigrants who had left Russia.

On April 8, 1921, Patriarch Tikhon, invoking the resolution of the All-Russian Central Electoral Commission Abroad of November 19, 1920, authorized by decree the management of parishes in Western Europe to Archbishop Evlogy (Georgievsky) of Volyn, who was among the other ROC hierarchs in exile. Archbishop Evlogy’s residence was the building of the Alexander Orphanage in Berlin, where he arrived with Archimandrite Tikhon (Lyashchenko).

The tensions and subsequent breakdown in relations between the ROCA head, Anthony (Khrapovitsky), and Metropolitan Evlogy, who had been living in Paris since 1922, led to the division of the Orthodox communities in Germany. At the Council of Bishops of ROCOR in Sremski Karlovtsy in June 1926, Germany was separated into a separate diocese headed by Tikhon (Lyashchenko). Almost all parishes in Germany were under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.

After Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, the state began to exert pressure on the parishes of Metropolitan Evlogii, who was dismissed by Sergey (Stragorodsky) on June 10, 1931 and transferred to the jurisdiction of the Constantinople Patriarchate, and insisted that they be under the jurisdiction of Bishop Tikhon (Lyashchenko) of Berlin.

After the war ended and Germany signed the surrender act, the Russian Orthodox Church began the process of moving its parishes into ROC jurisdiction.

In October 1946, the Orthodox parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate in Germany were included in the newly established Central European Exarchate of the ROC, headed by Archbishop Sergius of Vienna (Korolev).

On November 11, 1954 by the definition of the Holy Synod Blagochinie of Russian Orthodox churches in Germany was included in the Western European Exarchate.

On August 15, 1957 the Berlin diocese was restored. Since 1960 it has been the diocesan center of the Central European Exarchate.

In 1952-1954 the diocese published the magazine “The Voice of Orthodoxy” in Russian. This was relaunched in May 1961, already in German, under the title “Stimme der Orthodoxie” as the organ of the Central European Exarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church, with the aim “to acquaint readers with certain moments from the life of the ROC, and first of all with church life for Orthodox parishes in Germany, as well as with the life and work of the … Exarchate. The magazine published articles in German, notes, and reviews on inter-confessional dialogue, as well as works by foreign theologians about the Orthodox Church.

On February 24, 1971 the decision of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church from the Berlin diocese consisted of the Diocese of Baden and Bavaria in the federal lands of Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg and the Diocese of Dusseldorf in the lands of Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein. As part of the Berlin diocese remained seven parishes in Berlin, Weimar, Dresden, Leipzig and Potsdam.

By a January 30-31, 1990 decision of the Council of Bishops, the Central European Exarchate, among other ROC foreign exarchates, was abolished, and its dioceses were subordinated to the Patriarch and the Synod, that is, directly to the Department of External Church Relations.

After the abolition of the Central European Exarchate, the diocese became known as the Berlin and Leipzig diocese.

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On December 23, 1992 the Synod of the ROC decided to unite the 3 dioceses (Berlin and Leipzig, Baden and Bavaria, Dusseldorf) in a single diocese of Berlin and Germany.

On March 21, 1996 the Hungarian parish of the Moscow Patriarchate, which until then was directly subordinate to the OECS, became part of the Berlin diocese.

From the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, more than 300,000 people from Russia and the former Soviet Union arrived in Germany, many of whom are Orthodox Christians. Between 1992 and 2007, the number of parishes increased from twelve to sixty-one. In 2008, the monastery of St. George the Victorious in Gotschendorf was opened.

The Diocese of Berlin and Germany (ROCOR) [ edit ]

The Berlin and German Eparchy (German: Diözese der Russischen Orthodoxen Auslandskirche ) is the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, headed by Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin and Germany and Great Britain.

The Vicariate of Stuttgart, headed by Bishop Agapit (Horacek), is active.

History [ edit ]

In 1924 the Berlin Vicariate was established under Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky), administrator of parishes in Western Europe.

In June 1926, following the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia in Sremski Karlovci, the Berlin Patriarchate was reorganized into an independent diocese under Bishop Tikhon (Lyashchenko). Almost all Russian Orthodox parishes in Germany became under the jurisdiction of the ROCOR.

During the Nazi period, the German state showed ostensible concern for the German diocese of the Church Abroad, while putting pressure on it to use it for propaganda purposes. Thus, the authorities pressured the remaining Eugoslavian parishes in Germany to join the Diocese of the Church Abroad. In February 1938, the German leadership demanded that the Council of Bishops appoint an ethnic German named Seraphim (Lade) to replace Bishop Tikhon of Berlin and Germany, and this was done.

On May 26, 1942, the Berlin and German diocese was transformed by the Synod of the ROCOR into the Central European Metropolitan District with the consent of the authorities, and Archbishop Seraphim (Lyade) became metropolitan.

Immediately after the end of World War II, a wave of church transfers took place in the territories occupied by the Soviet Army (including the Soviet zone of occupation of Germany) from the jurisdiction of the Church Abroad to the Moscow Patriarchate.

In 1986, the parishes of the abolished Vienna and Austrian diocese joined the diocese.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a flood of emigrants from the former socialist camp came to Germany. In the 15 years between the early 1990s and the second half of the 2000s, more than 300,000 people arrived from the former Soviet Union. This strengthened the position of the diocese.

In the 1990s, the diocese received a former U.S. military church in central Munich, which after its restructuring was converted into the Cathedral of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.

After the restoration of communion between the Russian Church in the Fatherland and Abroad, Germany was distinguished by the lively and fruitful interaction between the local diocese of the Church Abroad and the dioceses directly subordinate to the Patriarchate.

In 2008, a complex of buildings was purchased in Berlin, which after reconstruction became the second administrative center of the diocese.

In 2014 a new charter was adopted to replace the outdated 1936 charter. The charter went into effect on January 1, 2015.

Current status [ edit ]

The Berlin and German diocese of the ROCOR is headed by Archbishop Mark (Arndt) of Berlin-Germany and Great Britain, has over fifty parishes and two monasteries: the monastery of St. Job of Pochaev in Munich and the convent in honor of St. Elisabeth in Buchendorf. In addition, the stavropigial Benedictine monastery is subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church, which is subordinate directly to the First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The diocese has been actively translating Orthodox literature into German, and since 1981 it has published the diocesan magazine Der Bote (Herald of the German Diocese of the ROCOR) in both Russian and German. It is also involved in building and renovating many church facilities.

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