The expiring year has caused serious difficulties in many spheres of life, it reduced the speed of economic growth and incomes of ordinary people. The administrator of the program on building Orthodox churches in Moscow, State Duma Deputy Vladimir Resin told Interfax-Religion how the difficulties of the pandemic year affected the project and what results have already been reached.
- Considering what a year it has been, we all need some good news. Please, tell us what results in Program-200 you managed to achieve?
- Looking back at the results of the program on building Orthodox churches in Moscow in 2020, I can say that we overcame all the trails with honor, toughened up and adapted to the situation. Even among hardships of the global coronavirus pandemic, we continued building and putting into operation major religious infrastructure objects. After all, the objects we built are not just churches, they are fully equipped complexes where Muscovites can not only pray in comfortable conditions, but also study the basics of Orthodox culture, arts and crafts, practice sports and even learn foreign languages. They can get involved in asceticism and charities. Each new church has a spiritual and educational center, a Sunday school, and sometimes even a regular school or a kindergarten. Each church organize numerous team projects and clubs where our children and grandchildren can study free of charge. Educational and creative processes are also available for adults. The church complexes we have built carry out functions of social objects in present-day Moscow.
I am glad that in spite of all the difficulties we put in operation nine new churches and 12 objects are prepared for commission. We managed to start building another 10 churches. 17 churches are being prepared for construction process.
I can honestly say it was a stress test for the program, a trial of our possibilities, technical solutions and ability to adapt to new conditions.
This time it has become evident that our program is important for keeping healthy optimism among Muscovites, raising their mental strength. Organization of online translations, aid to people in need provided by parishes helped to overcome the darkest period of the so-called lockdown, preserving the power of spirit. Mutual help, charities and spiritual support are cornerstones of morally rich Orthodox community.
- A new church under the program will be build at Moscow State University, but not all students are happy about it.
- I think not all of them are happy about the schedule and the price of education as well. After we announced our intention to build the church, I saw the news saying that students were collecting signatures for the construction of the church for the "spaghetti god". All sorts of -isms: maximalism, nihilism, are characteristic of students. I consider it a bad joke or trolling.
As far as a program church at Moscow State University is concerned, it is an initiative of the parish. Over 2,000 university employees asked its rector Viktor Sadovnichiy to build a church there in 2000. Today only thanks to Program-200 such construction has become possible. It will start in 2021.
We should remember that Moscow State University is one of the largest educational establishment in Russia, we celebrated its 265 anniversary this year. The number of its students, professors and lecturers exceeds 49,000 people. We understand that the church complex is in demand. It is constructed considering prospect changes of the major educational cluster.
New church of Equal-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius on Vernadsky Avenue will be 46 meters high, it will house up to 1,000 people. It will have several domes with a hip-roofed bell tower. The underground floors will house parochial premises and a spiritual center of Moscow State University. The ground floor and central staircases will be faced with granite, the walls will be lined with corpulent tapestry bricks and decorative elements made of fibrous concrete and the facade will be decorated with mosaic panels. Elements of domes, hipped roofs and crosses will be made of golden titanium nitrite sheets.
Our program revives a tradition of building churches at governmental institutions and higher educational establishments. For ten years of realizing Program 200 several university churches were erected and restored in Moscow.
- How has the pandemic affected financing of church construction?
- It may seem that economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, reduction of income and uncertain forecasts due to COVID-19 should have reduced the flow of donations on building new shrines. However, these factors have not affected the program. Our program has loyal major benefactors, such as Nornickel. The program also has other permanent, but not so big, benefactors, thanks to them the significant flow of donations does not dry up. What is the most important, 50 per cent of charitable help falls on ordinary citizens, not only Muscovites, but also residents of other regions of the country.
- As you said, this year Program-200 celebrates its tenth anniversary. What results have you achieved?
- As to mid-December we have got such results: 281 church complexes are in process of design and construction. It is an excellent result for the future, we have already overcome the originally set goals, breaking the figure of 200 churches announced ten years ago.
For ten years, up to the day 97 churches were erected, 80 church complexes were put in operation, another 12 are prepared for commission, other churches are in process of decoration. 37 churches are under construction, 17 land lots are ready for starting the works on them. The registration of permits for 46 churches has been completed, while documents for another 21 churches are being processed
Here are our results, if we summarize. There are many other figures and parameters in the actual documentation that are important to the builders, but the only thing is important for the parishioners: we have been working and we will work, no trouble will prevent us from realizing our plans.