Moscow, July 27, Interfax - Representatives of ten local Orthodox Churches from around the world will come to Moscow to attend celebrations marking the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus.
Delegations from the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Church of Antioch, the Church of Jerusalem, the Orthodox Church of Georgia, the Orthodox Church of Serbia, the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the Orthodox Church of Albania, the Orthodox Church of Poland, and the Orthodox Church of Czech Lands and Slovakia are coming to the Russian capital, the Moscow Patriarchate told Interfax-Religion.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia will meet Patriarch Theodore of Alexandria and All Africa and members of other church delegations on Friday.
"It is very significant that our brothers from all across the Orthodox world are now coming to Moscow and Kiev so that we together can express our unity on this date, which is so important for the Russian Orthodox Church," the spokesman of the Russian patriarch, priest Alexander Volkov, told Interfax-Religion.
In turn, the deputy head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov, described the Baptism of Rus as "an epoch-making event in Russian history."
"Everything that happened before is lost in the dark and is known to us only in fragments. A new people and a new civilization were born in the Dnieper baptistery, and this event was accompanied by such a strong creative surge that the newly born Orthodox Rus expanded later to new territories, and we received from God a 'sixth part of the Earth,' where different people now live, and new state borders are drawn, but with its own history, its own culture, and its global vision united for many centuries to come," the priest told Interfax-Religion.
"The Orthodox belief in Christ, the belief that St. Prince Vladimir chose, formed all of us, that is, the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Belarusians, the Moldovans, and all descendants of the Baptism of St. Vladimir, no matter what they call themselves now," the patriarch's spokesman said.
"The anniversary of our Baptism is an event of global significance," and it is not accidental that all of the Orthodox Churches in the world deemed it fitting to attend it, "share their joy with us, sending their hierarchs both to Kiev and to Moscow," the priest said.
The Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodore will be Russia's main guest, Father Nikolay said, noting that he "is our long-standing and faithful friend, who wholeheartedly fell in love with the Russians after spending ten years of study and service in Odessa."
"Let's pray together, let's share our joy and troubles, let's think about how to build up the unity of our global Orthodox family," the priest said.
The patriarchs of the Alexandrian and Russian Orthodox Churches, accompanied by members of other delegations, will lead a vigil service on Friday evening.
The Day of the Baptism of Rus was declared a state memorial date in Russia in 2010 at the Archbishop Council's request.