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Gazette >

Church Times goes to Russia

THE chaplain of Wandsworth School, the Revd Paul Hunt (second from left at table, right), took a group of 33 from the London diocese to Moscow as guests of the Russian Orthodox patriarchate’s department for external relations. The invitation had come through the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres.

The group stayed at the Danilov Monastery for the best part of a week (Mr Hunt describes it as the administrative centre of the patriarchate, akin to Lambeth Palace), and visited other religious sites, and also St Andrew’s Anglican Church, which has a healthy congregation, including a number of Orthodox Russians.

It was Mr Hunt’s first visit to Moscow for 15 years (he had taught there for a while in the 1980s), and he found a very wide gap between the new wealthy Russians and the poor. There is an undoubted renewal of religious life, he told me, but he was surprised that Fr Igor Vyshanov (centre), chairman of the external-relations department (which has 100 staff) had so little up-to-date knowledge of the Church of England. Fr Igor was under the impression we were in terminal decline, wracked by our arguments over homosexuality and women bishops.

Mr Hunt and the Revd Jonathan Trigg (second from right) decided to send the department regular copies of the Church Times to convince the staff there that the Church of England is in good health, growing in many places, and a force to be reckoned with.



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