The Amazing Russian Revival of Wood Architecture Skills - Volunteers Restore Historic Churches in North

They clear rubble and remove debris from the churches, carry out emergency and conservation works, install icons, and invite clergymen to perform services. After the departure of the volunteers, local residents continue the restoration work. Many church communities are being rebuilt.

"Common Cause: Rescuing Wooden Churches of the North" is a project committed to preserving ancient Orthodox churches and monuments of wooden architecture in the northern parts of Russia, including the regions of Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Karelia, and Komi.

In the Russian North, one encounters amazing wooden churches and chapels, built several centuries ago. Sadly, during the years of Soviet power, a huge number of churches had been burned, converted into clubs and warehouses, or simply left in desolation and disrepair.

This group does the work necessary to identify these churches, and to do the work necessary to restore them, preserve them, and pass them on to the next generation. First of all, it is important to carry out emergency work: to repair the roof, close the windows, and replace wood that has rotten in certain key places. If this is not done quickly, many wooden churches will soon be destroyed by the weather. Already, hundreds of northern churches have disappeared forever.

The project began in 2006, thanks to the work of Alexander Porfirievich Slepinin, a 75-year-old grandfather. At his own expense, in the Pomor village of Vorzogory, he began to cover the roof of the bell tower. Finding out about this good deed, the parishioners of several Moscow churches began to help him. The project was supported by Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov. Today the project is carried out with the blessing of Bishop John of Domodedovo, and Metropolitan Daniel of Arkhangelsk and Kholmogory. Patriarch Kirill has highly praised the work performed by this project.

Within the framework of this project, hundreds of volunteers are sent to the North every year. These restoration projects are documented in numerous videos available on YouTube (Russian language).Traditionally, the expeditions are attended by teachers and students of the Sretensky and Nikolo-Ugreshsky seminaries, the youth of the Podpornya Optina desert and many other churches in Moscow. The project coordination center is located at the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov in Raev in Moscow.

Project volunteers clear rubble and remove debris from the churches, carry out emergency and conservation works, install icons, and invite clergymen to perform services. Local residents take an active part in this effort, and after the departure of the volunteers, they continue to take care of the restoration of their holy places. Many church communities are being rebuilt.

350 churches and chapels have been identified that need help in these regions. Over the past 11 years, there have been 270 volunteer expeditions, which have performed restoration work in 137 of these churches and chapels. This project continues to organize volunteer expeditions every year.

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