Sunday, April 27, 2014

Russian Church builds first parish in New Delhi

New Delhi (Two Circles) - The construction of India's first Russian Orthodox Church will soon begin here, a top Russian diplomat said here.

"A decision will be taken soon to begin construction of the Russian Orthodox Church within our cultural centre. This was the most convenient way of reaching an understanding with the (local) authorities, because no major decision, apart from architectural, will be required," Sergey Karmalito, senior counsellor at the Russian embassy, told IANS.

One of the largest of the Eastern Orthodox congregations, the Russian Orthodox Church had launched a parish here in 2011 but has so far operated out of the Russian embassy premises.

"It will be constructed quite soon, and what is required now are the financial inputs for the project from Moscow", Karmalito said.

Pointing out that the decision to construct the church within the cultural centre meant that the necessary approvals required were only architectural in nature, for which the Russian embassy was in touch with concerned civic authorities, Karmalito said: "The architectural draft will be adopted."

The Russian Centre of Science and Culture, located in the Ferozeshah Road area of central Delhi, has a few high rises in the vicinity and the church blueprint would have to conform to the zonal building regulations. The church will open onto the main road.

"During our previous ambassador's tenure here, the idea was to have it within the Russian embassy premises (in the capital's diplomatic enclave), but that would have created security issues. Now, with an entrance from the main road, the church will be accessible to all," Karmalito said.

Unlocking the key to the kingdom of heaven, so to speak, was necessitated by the increasing number of Russians living in India and the need to provide religious services in the country.

"The Russian community in Delhi, comprising many women who have married Indians, families of diplomats and other families that stay here for part of the year are the inspiration for this church," Karmalito

Some of these families, along with their children, took the confessional from a Russian priest at the midnight Easter mass held at the embassy's White Hall.

The first Russian Orthodox Parish in Delhi, named after the apostle Thomas, was registered in 2006 when Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (at that time serving as chairman of the Moscow
Patriarchate's department for external church relations), visited India.

The embassy has earlier also considered a proposal for establishing a permanent parish in Goa, where almost 10,000 Russians live for at least six months in a year.

The agenda of last year's Moscow summit talks between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reportedly involved discussions on permission to build a Russian Orthodox Church in Delhi as well as on saving Russia's only Hindu temple from demolition threatened by local Moscow authorities.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in Moscow had been under the threat of being demolished due to issues relating to land allocation.


  1. Has the Patriarchate of Antioch given its blessing, as India is unquestionably part of its canonical territory?

    1. True, somebody should put a stop to this insidious evangelism before it's too late.

    2. Dear, Evangelical Orthodoxy:

      I love your comment for the simple fact that I cannot tell if it's sincere or sarcastic. Either way, well said!

  2. The Oriental Orthodox are already there. What's the endgame here? Does the Russian Orthodox Church really intend to 'evangelize,' that is, to be the eventual Local Church in India and absorbing or displacing the non-Chalcedonians (the Catholics and Protestants are there also)? That would be actual evangelism. I suspect the reality is this a parish for Russian diaspora.

    1. There are very few Oriental Orthodox in Delhi. Most of them are in Kerala, which is at the opposite end of the country.

      You are probably right, though, about this parish being primarily for the Russian diaspora -- which is not a bad thing, but not the best thing either.

    2. Correct. I am not saying it's a bad thing--and it's actually a good thing--but it's not really evangelism either.

  3. Oh please! "...but it's not about evangelism either." What about caring for the pastoral needs of the Russian-speaking flock in New Delhi? Have some compassion. Orthodox Christians from various countries of the former communist block are forced to be part of the new global economy & are working in China, Japan, Korea, India and the Middle East. The Orthodox Church has a responsibility to look after their pastoral needs. And help the next generation that is being born while their parents are working overseas.
    Here is another example:
    "Orthodox Ukrainians living in Beijing for the first time this year were able to celebrate the feast of Pascha on its territory - at the Ukrainian Embassy in the PRC."

    1. I like precision in terminology. "Evangelism" would be establishing a missionary Indian Orthodox Church. This is pastoral care, as you note.

  4. This is an example of how Indians view non-Indian Christian missions:

    and anti-Christian violence in India:

    I am not sure what the current legislation in India is for foreign missions and if there are obtstacles to setting up new foreign missions in the country.